‘Tillies’ at Millennium Forum

The cast of Tillies pictured with director Nicky Harley (centre) ahead of their production this weekend at the Forum. (190413JC2)
The cast of Tillies pictured with director Nicky Harley (centre) ahead of their production this weekend at the Forum. (190413JC2)

For 147 years the first purpose built shirt factory in Derry stood tall in the skyline of the city.

And now the moving tale of the women and men who worked in the factory that revolutionized shirt production in the city, ‘Tillie and Henderson’ come to stage once more at the Millennium Forum tonight and tomorrow night.

A first rate local cast, including a local teacher and two of her former pupils will bring Patsy Durnin’s brilliant tribute to the city’s most famous shirt factory to the stage.

Presented by the Playhouse, ‘Tillies’ tells the tale of the first factory to introduce the sewing machine that revolutionized shirt production in the city, and explores the story of the people who worked in it.

Director Nicky Harley says of the play: “We’ve been working a lot with the writer Patsy Durnin, who wrote the book of Tillies, and he has been great.

“A lot of the script came from interviews he did at the time with factory workers.

“The Forum stage is the biggest stage I’ve ever worked towards and this is probably the largest cast I’ve worked with too - I’m really looking forward to seeing it all coming together.”

The workers themselves fostered strong relationships, which is reflected in the play. “They lived and breathed every day together - you’d never see that nowadays,” Nicky says.

“Our cast make it easy, they just jump in and there has been so much fun and laughter.

“A lot of the cast have become very close in recent weeks, and it’s great to see that chemistry between them.”

Local actors, Maureen Wilkinson, Kathy Deehan, Andy Doherty, Seamus Ball, Paul O’Doherty, and Louise Conaghan will star in the much anticipated production.

Maeve Connelly, a teacher at Thornhill College will be reunited with two past pupils Rachel Melaugh and Dearbhaile McKinney under the direction of director Nicky Harley, another former Thornhill girl for the performances tonight and tomorrow night.

The show will project live images connected to the famous factory which dominated the skyline of the city for so many years.

“This play is a beautiful tribute, which documents and sprovides a ‘keyhole peep’ into aspects of working life in ‘Tillies’” Áine McCarron at The Playhouse said. “The play reflects testimonials of former workers at the factory and from Patsy’s own experience working there for over twenty two years from 1950-1972.

The cast is pictured with director Nicky Harley, centre.

“The result is a vivid and emotional portrait of the famous factory and its times.”

nTickets for ‘Tillies’ at The Millennium Forum tonight and tomorrow night at 8pm are £9.50/ £12.50/ £15. To book contact The Millennium Forum Box Office (028)71264455 or www.millenniumforum.co.uk.