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Free Thinking is BBC Radio 3's hugely popular festival of ideas and provocative debate and this summer we are taking events across the UK.
Radio 3's Matthew Sweet will be exploring Derry-Londonderry's cultural past and celebrating the city's status as City of Culture 2013 with a series of debates and interviews with major cultural figures recorded at The Playhouse. And in 'If Walls Could Talk', five leading writers will also be reflecting on the city in specially commissioned talks.
Admission is free but ticketed. For updates on guests and events, and to be part of the audience, Click here
Friday 27th September
7.30pm: If Walls Could Talk
(2 essays, 15 minutes each)
This special series of The Essay, introduced by BBC Northern Ireland Arts presenter Marie-Louise Muir, invites five leading cultural commentators, writers and musicians to explore the city's cultural fabric and its role as the inaugural UK City of Culture. Join us as our contributors record their essay, and ask them a question afterwards.
Susan McKay, author, journalist and broadcaster, native of the city, will examine the notion of a City of Culture, and the recent rebranding of the city as ‘Derry~Londonderry.' Can the City of Culture title help with city's on-going search for identity?
Novelist Glenn Patterson examines the notion that Derry~Londonderry may be a cultural ‘island' - located as it is in the far north west of Northern Ireland, some would argue it is not quite north, not quite south, so where is it? Is its very isolation the reason for its unique cultural tale? A favourite son of Belfast, Glenn will also explore the long-standing cultural rivalry between Northern Ireland's two major cities.
Saturday 28th September
12pm: If Walls Could Talk
(2 essays, 15 minutes each)
If Walls Could Talk continues with essays from crime novelist Brian McGilloway and actor and broadcaster Nuala Hayes. There'll be a chance to ask each of them questions after they speak.
Brian McGilloway - best-selling crime novelist, native of the city, now living in Donegal, Brian will examine how it shaped him creatively, from the river that divides the city to the strange hinterland of the Donegal border, and the city's tangled, dark streets and alleyway; they all fed his imagination and found life in his writing.
Nuala Hayes, actor, broadcaster and storyteller. Dublin born Nuala came to Derry to act in Brian Friel's early Field Day productions, including the first production of Translations. Recently she has worked with the women of Derry's shirt factories, collecting their stories, songs of memories.
2pm: A Tribute to Michael Grigsby
English documentary film director Michael Grigsby, who died earlier this year, made a trilogy of films in Northern Ireland. In the first two, Too Long A Sacrifice and The Silent War, he invited people to talk about how The Troubles had impacted on their lives. Grigsby famously banned voiceover from his films, giving his subjects the space and time to tell their story in their own words. In 2005 he made Rehearsals, an impressionistic snapshot of Belfast. Michael Grigsby's three films bear witness to two decades (and several centuries) of Ulster history. Matthew Sweet is joined by two film-makers who worked closely with Michael Grigsby, Rebekah Tolley and John Furse, to pay tribute to his work.
**Were you involved in the making of Too Long A Sacrifice, The Silent War or Rehearsals? If so, we'd love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
4pm: If Walls Could Talk
(1 essay, 15 minutes)
In our final essay, pianist Neil Cowley recalls arriving in the UK City of Culture 2013 as its official musician in residence. Composer, jazz pianist and session musician with best-selling artists like Adele, Neil came to a city he did not know, unsure of what his role would involve, or what he could bring to the city. Neil will explore the role of music in the city's cultural story, especially looking to the future with the young people of the city; can music make a difference in their lives?
7pm: Derry-Londonderry: A User's Guide
From its world-famous walls to its history of ‘no surrender', it is a city in which history and politics exert real power. But what is the city like for its citizens, as a place to live and work? Radio 3's Matthew Sweet invites writer Owen Hatherley, local architect Mary Kerrigan and local crime writer Brian McGilloway to discuss the architecture and landscape of the city, its multiple identities, from Derry~Londonderry to Stroke City to LegenDerry, and on how its political and religious history has shaped not only its buildings, but also the lives of its citizens.
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