People share their tragic experiences of Troubles

From left: Aidan Shields, Lee Lavis, Peter O'Connor, Desmond Trainor, Tracey Mulholland and Monica Duffy Campbell. Photo credit Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
From left: Aidan Shields, Lee Lavis, Peter O'Connor, Desmond Trainor, Tracey Mulholland and Monica Duffy Campbell. Photo credit Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

People with lived experience of The Troubles in South Armagh, Border counties and Dublin will perform their stories on stage this week in a contemporary piece of verbatim theatre by The Playhouse.

‘Blood Red Lines’ has been created by victims and survivors of the conflict, including those worst affected by the Dundalk and Dublin bombings, in collaboration with BAFTA winning film and theatre maker Robert Rae.

Arthur Mulholland's granddaughter, Aidan Shields and Robert Rae. Photo credit Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Arthur Mulholland's granddaughter, Aidan Shields and Robert Rae. Photo credit Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Rae has undertaken a six month residency in Newry as part of an ambitious EU PEACE IV funded arts programme, The Playhouse Theatre and Peacebuilding Academy.

The production will open this weekend in Newry, before touring to Dundalk and Belfast in March.

In the play, victims and survivors wrestle with the complexity of how and what to tell the next generation, their individual rights set against the refusal of those responsible and government bodies to share the truth, growing anxiety about the effect Brexit will have on peace… and the impact upon their own lives of the events they endured.

The play is part of a wider ‘Border Stories’ programme, delivered by the Theatre and Peacebuilding Academy in Spring 2019, to foreground stories related to The Troubles in the South Armagh and Border Counties region.

Robert Rae, Director of Blood Red Lines. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Robert Rae, Director of Blood Red Lines. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

The Playhouse Theatre and Peacebuilding Academy creates theatre and art that allows reflection, active dialogue on consequences of conflict, and builds techniques to engage with painful memories. Artists will draw upon the skills of internationally-renowned artists with extensive experience in the use of drama and art to help heal divided communities emerging out of conflict.

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).

The Playhouse will work in partnership with Holywell Trust, Thomas D’Arcy McGee Foundation and Queens University Belfast to deliver the two and a half year project, which will work with representatives from interface and highly segregated areas, historical atrocities, victims and survivors and public sector.

Rae said: “It’s a great privilege as well as a daunting responsibility to be invited to come and work with people here in Newry and Dundalk, surrounded by the beautiful countryside that holds the memory of so many terrible events. By listening and responding to what people choose to tell me, together we will make a contribution to the courageous efforts of those who already tell their stories in the hope that we will never again return to the tragedy of armed conflict. People have been generous and welcoming – I am struck by their quiet dignity and steely determination to find the truth. The legendary Tommy Sands said to me recently “I’ve never seen a green or an orange tear – only tears”. So whatever we create it will be as honest as we can make it – from the stories shared so far and the integrity of the people who have already agreed to take part, it will undoubtedly be a night to remember.”

Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland. The production has attracted international attention, featuring in the latest issue of ‘YOUR EU!’, an update on the European Union’s PEACE and INTERREG Programmes.

‘Blood Red Lines will come to Newry Town Hall this Saturday (February 23) and Sunday (February 24), 7pm (Box Office 02830 313180), Brian Friel Theatre, Belfast on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 March, 7.30pm (Box Office (028)71268027 or www.derryplayhouse.co.uk) and An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk on Saturday 9 March, 8pm (Box Office 042 9332332 or www.antain.ie).