Free writing classes launched at Playhouse

The poet and playwright Damian Gorman has come to Derry.
The poet and playwright Damian Gorman has come to Derry.

“Many people have a wee notion of writing. Not so many get round to it, and its often because of lack of confidence. Many of us seem to have developed an inner voice which can stop us in our own tracks. “who do you think you are?”, it says, “Do you think you are somebody- somebody special?” Damian Gorman

The poet and playwright Damian Gorman has come to Derry to work with the Theatre and Peacebuilding Academy at The Playhouse between now and the end of April.

While in the city he is offering a series of free writing workshops, beginning on Thursday, October 3 from 6- 8pm.

During his time at The Playhouse, Damian will be working around the theme of 1972 – as a reflection of The Troubles, using theatre to explore the pathway to peace and engage with real life stories and experiences.

His work has garnered awards as diverse as a Better Ireland Award and an MBE, a Golden Harp and a BAFTA. For more than 30 years he has also worked with other people on their stories, including work for almost 10 years with young Israelis and Palestinians on the ground-breaking Olive Tree project, using writing and story-telling as tools of dialogue and understanding.

Damian has recently been appointed a fellow of the Oxford Initiative for Global Ethics and Human Rights.

The Co. Down writer’s residency will finish with a performance in The Playhouse in April 2020.

“Yes, my reason to be here is to work with people on their stories of the Troubles- especially the worst year of that time, but these workshops will also stand as a thing on their own” Damian said.

“Certainly, the first ones won’t go near 1972. I know in my own life how writing depends on a wee bit of morale, but sometimes we have little or none. Life can take the good out of us, and we’ve nothing left over for telling stories, even our own stories. This series of workshops will be about putting a bit of that morale, that good, back. It’ll set out to provide a wee writing boost.

“If you think, or even half think, this might be for you, please feel free to come to the first one to see for yourself. No one will be lashed to the whole idea of having to sign up for the whole string of them, or to the fuller Playhouse project- though the invitation is, of course, there.

“Here is where I’ll be starting… when I was a wee fella in St Mary’s Boys Primary School in Newcastle, Co. Down, we were stood up one day by a teacher to sing ‘The Mountains of Mourne’. He was thinking of putting a choir together. After a belt or two of lusty singing I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard the words “Gorman, away you and mime in the corner”. I can hear them still. Many people seem to have been told in their lives that they should be “miming in the corner”. These workshops I’m talking about will be opposed to that.”

Damian is the latest artist to be announced for the two-and-a-half-year EU PEACE funded Theatre and Peacebuilding Academy project, which will work with a range of internationally based artists with significant experience of utilising arts activity in conflict and areas of social breakdown throughout the world.

Delivered in partnership with Holywell Trust, Thomas D’Arcy McGee Foundation and Queens University Belfast, the project aims to use theatre as a tool to promote healing and reconciliation in a healing and transformative way.

The PEACE IV Programme is an EU funded Programme designed to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border region. It is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Executive Office and the Department for Rural and Community Development.

To attend to free writing workshops or to get more information contact elaine on elaine@derryplayhouse.co.uk.