Belfast writer plays part in tackling climate change – by kidnapping Donald Trump

Mothers Out Front by US-born Belfast writer Edie Shillue is at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast tomorrow, then touring
Gail Bell

THEIR bobble-topped balaclavas are brightly coloured, making them slightly less sinister than bog-standard black, but don't let that fool you – these women mean business.

They are defenders of the planet and they will go to any lengths to secure the future of its people, its animals, its insects...

Mothers Out Front is the new play from the pen of US-born Belfast writer, academic and social campaigner Edie Shillue, and although the plot may require a certain suspension of disbelief – President Donald Trump is kidnapped by an opportunistic Northern Ireland woman – a serious message on climate change lies at its Earthly core.

The well-meaning kidnapper is one of three female protestors who, after years of ‘thinking globally and acting locally’, set out to make their voices heard at a global economic summit in Dublin.

It was created out of “a sense of despair” felt by the writer, whose previous play The House was also produced by award-winning Sole Purpose Productions in 2015 and tackled the issue of human trafficking.

Shillue – originally from Boston – is well known for her work with immigrant and refugee communities in Northern Ireland and first became aware of climate change as “an issue of justice” after witnessing flooding patterns in south east Asia and Vietnam during the 1990s.

“Tens of millions of people across the world are displaced because of climate emergency and the two are definitely interlinked,” she says. “Helping people and loving the plant were an important part of my motivation for this play.”

It has to be said, a fondness for the northern Irish sense of humour also helped.

“Mothers Out Front fell into place because, in addition to everything that was happening in 2016 – the Paris Agreement, Brexit and the US election – I have been living here since 1997 and I see how Irish people take constructive action, but have a sense of humour with it,” she adds.

“This play uses more of an absurd than black sense of humour, but I hope it shows how certain people need to laugh at themselves while, at the same time, talking about some very serious issues.”

:: Directed by Patricia Byrne, Mothers Out Front is at the Crescent Arts Centre Belfast, tomorrow and also An Coire, Maghera, May 19; Derry Playhouse, May 21 and 22; Strule Arts Centre, Omagh, May 29 and The Alley Theatre, Strabane, May 30. Free workshops on climate change are available for groups to book.

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