John Hume musical drama ‘Beyond Belief’ to premier in Derry on GFA anniversary

A new musical drama honouring John Hume will be performed in the Guildhall on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next year, writes Kevin Mullan.

By Kevin Mullan
Friday, 15th April 2022, 12:01 am

‘Beyond Belief - The Life & Mission of John Hume’ is the beginning of a partnership between the John & Pat Hume Foundation and The Playhouse.

It will form the second part of a peace trilogy following ‘The White Handkerchief’, the powerful dramatisation of the events of Bloody Sunday that premiered on the 50th anniversary of the atrocity. The life of the late statesman will be honoured by Damian Gorman (writer), Brian O’Doherty (composer) and Kieran Griffiths (director).

John’s daughter, Mo said: “Our family really admire the peace-building work that Pauline Ross [Playhouse founder] and The Playhouse team have created. Both my parents were hugely impressed by the creativity, openness and international reach of The Playhouse’s work over many decades. We are confident that The Playhouse will honour my father, and present his life and work with great integrity, but also joy. My father’s career had many triumphs, many hardships, but he was a warm, kind and funny family man, a man who loved to sing. He was a very proud Derry man and I know it will be emotional seeing his presence step on the stage of the Guildhall.”

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An original signed copy of the Good Friday Agreement and glasses belonging to the late John Hume at the launch of a new musical drama ‘Beyond Belief: The Life and Mission of John Hume’ at the Playhouse on Monday afternoon. Beyond Belief - The Life and Mission of JOHN HUME will premiere on Friday 31st March and close on 7th April 2023- the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2215GS – 015

Playhouse CEO, Kevin Murphy said: “The difference that The Playhouse and The John & Pat Hume Foundation both make is that we bring people together to make meaningful change creatively, peacefully and with hope. We each strive to support positive change-makers, nurturing their creativity and confidence. In addition, when we work together the possibilities only grow and through this partnership we can contribute to sustaining peace in societies worldwide as well as here in our home city.”

Director Kieran Griffiths, said: “While John Hume has been described as a ‘Titan’, a ‘Giant’ and a ‘Hero’ of peace-making and reconciliation, ‘Beyond Belief’, in its words and music, will reach for the man: the man who achieved all he did not glibly, without struggle or alone, but as a human being. In representing John Hume, his life and his mission – a mission never fettered by shibboleth, dogma or fossilised tenet – Beyond Belief will seek to inspire those generations through words, music and song.”

Truth, justice and equality campaigner Sara Canning, told the ‘Journal’ how John had loomed large in her life when she was growing up.

“He had always been a part of my life. He was constantly mentioned in my house. My parents knew him. He was always on the TV. He was Derry’s figurehead. It’s really nice to recognise him in this town. This will tell his story to a generation.”

Pictured at the launch of a new musical drama ‘Beyond Belief: The Life and Mission of John Hume’ at the Playhouse on Monday afternoon last, with an original signed copy of the Good Friday Agreement, are, from left, Tim Attwood, Secretary of The John Hume Foundation, Kevin Murphy, CEO of the Playhouse, Brid Rodgers, leader of the SDLP team during the Good Friday Agreement talks, Professor Dean Farren, Chairperson of The John Hume Foundation, Sara Canning, Truth, Justice and Equality campaigner, Kieran Griffiths, Director and Producer at the Playhouse, Mark Durkan, former SDLP leader, Deputy First Minister and MP, Professor Paul Arthur, Professor of Politics, UU and Monica McWilliams Emeritus Professor UU and co-founder of the NI Women’s Coalition. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2215GS – 013

Sara, whose partner Lyra McKee was shot dead by a republican gunman in Creggan in 2019, said John’s message is particularly relevant today.

“Peace has always been fragile but we are seeing just how fragile that is right now at this moment in time. People can’t forget all the hard work that went in to bringing us to the relative peace that we had during the 1990s and 2000s. To tell that story I think it will spur people on.”

Monica McWilliams, co-founder of the Women’s Coalition and co-signatory of the GFA, said: “I’m delighted to support this because John was the person more than anyone who led us to that table and said it was the only way we were going to see our way out of 30 years of conflict. His patience, persistence and courage paid off. I’m in awe of what he did and it’s the least I can do to give something back both in his and Pat’s memory, because Pat inspired me as well. In days when I felt very lonely and despondent I would run into Pat- it was almost like serendipity - and she would say, ‘Keep going girl. We’ve got to make this work. Keep going’. I treasured her for doing that given what she lived through herself.”

Mark Durkan, a close-confidante of John’s throughout his life, said: “We as a foundation are committed to ensuring that there is not only commemoration of John and Pat’s towering contribution but also that future generations are encouraged to emulate their commitment to peace-building, change-making and peace and solidarity.”

Kevin Murphy, CEO of the Playhouse, centre, pictured at the launch of a new musical drama ‘Beyond Belief: The Life and Mission of John Hume’ at the venue on Monday afternoon with an original signed copy of the Good Friday Agreement and signatories of the document Monica McWilliams Emeritus Professor UU and co-founder of the NI Women’s Coalition, Brid Rodgers, leader of the SDLP team during the Good Friday Agreement talks, Mark Durkan, former SDLP leader, Deputy First Minister and MP and Professor Sean Farren, Chairperson of The John Hume Foundation. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2215GS – 014

‘Beyond Belief - The Life and Mission of John Hume’ will run in the Guildhall from Friday, March 31 to April 7, 2023, the 25th Anniversary of the GFA.

Tickets at derryplayhouse.co.uk

The anniversary performance on April 7, 2023 will be broadcast live via derryplayhouse.co.uk and available to stream for 7 days afterwards.