Arts

Derry's Playhouse theatre going live again in September

Proud to Be was created in lockdown by the poet and performer Mel Bradley and director Kieran Smyth

THE Playhouse in Derry has announced its plans to resume staging productions to live audiences in September.

The Playhouse will present new work to a safely socially-distanced audience of 20, while simultaneously broadcasting each performance live online. These new live productions will tell untold stories of victims and survivors of the Troubles and the experiences of LGTBQ+ people living in Northern Ireland, performed by the people themselves.

When the house lights go down, the 20 audience members allowed into the 150 seat theatre will not be surrounded by empty chairs: instead, the remaining theatre seats will be filled with a series of extremely significant items donated by members of the public who have lost people in the Troubles, due to Covid-19, or other circumstances.

Their first show of the new season, Proud to Be, was created in lockdown by the poet and performer Mel Bradley and director Kieran Smyth. It will explore the diverse experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. It will not be performed to a live audience but will be broadcast live from

The Playhouse stage online on August 28.

Anything Can Happen 1972: Voices from the heart of the Troubles by Damian Gorman, will be performed to live and digital audiences from September 16 to 19. It will tell previously-unheard stories about experiences of Northern Ireland in 1972.

Kieran Griffiths, producer/director of The Playhouse comments: "Like a low-laying fog, grief has sat amongst us all this year. It's grey, feels impossible to lift and kicking it sees it rise around us. Our plan is to honour that grief and to fight through with resilience and creativity to simply try and make something move.

"Fear of inertia was the catalyst and our mission to bring art to all will continue. Anything Can Happen 1972 is an act of love, of courage and its 'sunlit absence' is our way of spotlighting our missing audiences but also our theatre community in mourning."

Damian Gorman, author of Anything Can Happen, says: "The empty chair is a very powerful symbol of loss and grief. Somebody defined grief to me as 'love which has nowhere to go'. Rather than having all these empty chairs that would be housing absence, we would be housing something of significance. If all of that makes sense to you, please get in touch with us here at The Playhouse."

The Playhouse's online programme will include a wealth of behind the scenes films, artist interviews, access to rehearsal and broadcasts of past Playhouse productions, including Playcraft Live, the production that originally took the theatre across the world.

The initial run of new productions will be screened free of charge to all viewers, with donations encouraged online, before inviting audiences to financially support their new online programme with an accessible new e-ticketing model.

Kieran Griffiths says: "We’re asking audiences watching from around the world, and those locally who wish to safeguard the future of their local arts, to consider donating, and help us to deliver creative, innovative and accessible arts, theatre and education to the community."

:: See Derryplayhouse.co.uk for further details

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