The Playhouse in Derry ‘hope to honour Liam Campbell by continuing his work in 2022’

The Playhouse ends a difficult year with a tribute to colleague and friend Liam Campbell....

Sunday, 9th January 2022, 10:50 am
Liam Campbell with Jackie Duddy’s sister Kay and niece JulieAnn Campbell at the launch of the White Handkerchief at The Playhouse back in November.

Liam was inspired by the power of artistic creativity, peacebuilding and positive social change.

Liam Campbell’s latest and final work, The White Handkerchief, will premiere in The Guildhall and broadcast across the world on Bloody Sunday’s 50th Anniversary.

As another year of uncertainty comes to an end, The Playhouse has been thankful to continue work with all ages to inspire social change through art and story sharing.

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In doing so it honours its colleague and friend, Dr. Liam Campbell, who passed away on December 20.

With 10 years’ experience working as an arts coordinator within both the community and formal education, Liam was inspired by the power artistic creativity, peacebuilding and positive social change.

Liam spearheaded The Playhouse Leaders for Peace Programme, enhancing the capacities of 43 community peacemakers who can affect and influence positive change from grass roots to government levels domestically and internationally. He helped to create a new upskilling Methodology that will meaningfully contribute to enhancing capacities in the area of positive voices for change.

He designed a series of sessions designed to improve capacities and self-care strategies for individuals working in the peacebuilding arena.

The programme drew on work with beneficiaries of peacebuilding projects, including The Playhouse Theatre of Witness project, which delivered 40 national workshops and 12 international workshops in 2021, allowing 1,050 people to engage with real life stories from all sides of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, as facilitators share their true narratives through arts and peacebuilding.

Young people taking part in The Playhouse Street Talk project gave their own responses the ways in which art can address challenging community issues including youth justice, crime and the impact of crime, citizenship, identity and human rights and the rights of a child. 116 workshops were held in 2021, 26 by Zoom, and 90 face to face.

The project started the year off in Lockdown, delivering online art programmes with young people from Hillcrest Youth Club, Glens Development Initiative and Streetbeat, holding interactive online sprayday demos, celebratory pizza nights and a pizza art workshop. The young people worked with a team of artists and produced a series of graffiti art murals, art books and tote bags printed with their own designs. They focussed on youth justice issues, human rights and issues that arose throughout the pandemic.

The Playhouse begun its next chapter as a hybrid venue, reopening to audiences and more participants, while creating new online resources to challenge and inspire. Audiences and participants spent a staggering 1,045 hours watching Playhouse work online in 2021. February saw the appointment of Kevin Murphy as The Playhouse’s new CEO, a cultural leader and creative citizen whose career has been about enabling people and encouraging positive change.

In March original comedy storytelling act MakeyUppers and children’s theatre company Play Make-Believe collaborated with The Playhouse to create online learning resources for the Little Playhouse Early Years programme. 80 children engaged with the 11 short educational films for the programme. Young people taking part in

The Playhouse Street Talk Project then created a billboard campaign highlighting mental health issues and cyber bullying across the North West in March and April. Street Talk also ran a series of diversionary graffiti art spray days with young people at the Belfast interfaces throughout the riots in April and May.

Twelve new members The Playhouse Music Theatre Company were announced in May, followed by performances in two musicals, Edges and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and the creation a series of original cabarets in July. With only twelve places available The Playhouse offered conservatory level training and industry standard professional practice for free.

Street Talk then launch a new film exploring controversial Stop and Search policing powers in Northern Ireland. Written by Laurence McKeown, the film was created in consultation with young people different backgrounds, community workers, academics and police officers. Section 24, Schedule 3 was launched by the Justice Minister Naomi Long at a virtual event in August.

The first live audiences in 15 months returned to The Playhouse that night for the world premiere of a new play by best-selling novelist Colin Bateman. Directed by BAFTA award winning director Kenny Glenaan, Nutcase was a blackly comic but unstinting journey through mental illness.

Street Talk delivered on street workshops in the first weekend of September as part of the new pedestrianisation initiatives of streets around the Cathedral Quarter.

November saw tickets go on sale for Liam Campbell’s latest and final work, The White Handkerchief, which will premiere in The Guildhall and broadcast across the world on Bloody Sunday’s 50th Anniversary. In this landmark piece of theatre, Liam has created a beautiful elegy, a message of love and hope to and for our to be performed in the original intended destination of the protest march against internment without trial on 30 January 1972.

“Last month The Playhouse lost a dear colleague and friend. Through kindness and integrity, paired with a great intellect and talent Liam drove The Playhouse to keep fostering greater community wellbeing, keep creating educational and developmental pathways for people, and keep growing peace and social justice” Playhouse CEO Kevin Murphy said.

“We hope that we can honour him by continuing his work in 2022, as we work towards a cultural democracy in a peaceful civic society, and continue to grow our work empowering young people, building cultural commons, and supporting communities and collectives of creative practitioners.”