Playhouse Theatre Productions

The following constitutes a breakdown of inhouse productions based at The Playhouse Theatre. For furtherinformation on any of the productions listed below, please do not hesitate to contact us.

1999

ENERGY by Gary Mitchell
Directed by Joe Devlin
Produced by Jonathan Burgess

Set in the early eighties against the backdrop of the hunger strikes, Energy follows the fortunes of a wannabe punk band as they rehearse, bicker and try to get their act together for that all-important first gig.

2003

SPIKE DREAMS by Dave Duggan
Directed by Dave Duggan
Produced by Jonathan Burgess

A comedy-drama of a family in crisis. The local textile factory has closed. Tony, the father, Paula, the mother, Johnny and Lauren, the older children, are all redundant. Insecurity and panic set in, but also excitement and opportunity. Everybody has plans, but no one is sure how they'll work out. Only Spike, the youngest, is sure. He is sure an asteroid is about to hit the planet!

2005

FLIGHT by Seamas Keenan
Directed by Lisa May
Produced by Jonathan Burgess

Imagine that Amelia Earhart and her co-pilot Fred Noonan did not, contrary to the popular story, disappear in 1937, but are living in anonymity in present day Derry, to escape from the perils of fame and notoriety. This plays charts an imaginary encounter between Amelia and three republican dissidents in the present day.

2006

THE WORTHLESS SOLDIER by Sam Starrett
Directed by James Lecky
Produced by Jonathan Burgess

Based upon the true story of Bernard McGeehan, an Irish soldier executed for desertion during the Great War, The Worthless Soldier charts the trial and the final hours before his execution. A harrowing and uncompromising story of military injustice and indifference - when soldiers were executed to enforce front line discipline and as stark examples to their comrades.

2007

HEROES WITH THEIR HANDS IN THE AIR by Fintan Brady.
Adapted from the book The Bloody Sunday Inquiry: The Families Speak Out edited by Eamonn McCann.

A powerful and honest portrait of loss and the search for justice, Heroes With Their Hands In The Air, tells the story of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, the longest legal proceedings in British or Irish history. Based on interviews with relatives and survivors of Bloody Sunday the play charts the highs & lows of the family's years of campaigning, their pain, frustration, and persistency, & their experiences of the media spotlight.

‘An intimate and searingly honest account of families torn apart.' Belfast Telegraph

‘A remarkable example of modern Irish political theatre.' Derry Journal

‘Powerful play...the stories it tells are important and moving.' Irish Times

2009

WE CARRIED YOUR SECRETS by Teya Sepinuck
Directed by Teya Sepinuck
Produced by Nicky Harley

An emotional, groundbreaking, multi media performance piece, performed by ex combatants who were on the front lines during The Troubles, & family members of the next generation. All the performers told personal stories of The Troubles and portrayed their own journeys of reconciliation, reconnection and healing, thereby creating performances of raw depth, honesty and truth.


"Brilliant performance, hits deep, found it very emotional. As a victim of the troubles myself it was great to hear other stories and to hear people talk of their lives and feelings. I was in the Greysteel shooting in 93 and understood some of what was said and interested in the stories of those who I felt were part of it."

"Oh my God, how very, very powerful. Is this truth not already forgiveness in its most beautiful form. I wish you were in schools, youth groups and 100 other places! I am on a personal and professional journey and your truth has just reminded me of why I am on it. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

"It's hard to explain for me in English. It's a really strong story and you tell it in a really good way. I will never forget this. Keep up and be yourself. I'm speechless and that's not happened often. Sire Antonsen, 19 years, Norway"

"That was the most powerful, moving theatre experience of my life. It is the only time that have ever cried in the theatre. I don't know what else to say."

2009

HOME BOY HOME by Scott Marshall

The perfect deconstruction of the Irish family, this play explores themes of friendship, loyalty and secrets using a mixture of flashbacks and present day scenes to reveal how the past has impacted lives and unravels comedy and tragedy in equal measure.
The father, a university professor, has died and his family of two daughters and one son return home for the funeral, where they meet the son of their former next door neighbour- a young man they have not seen for almost twenty years.
Scott Marshall has spent his life in theatre as a director, performer, writer, critic, tutor, lecturer and adjudicator.

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2010

STILL, THE BLACKBIRD SINGS - INCIDENTS IN EBRINGTON BARRACKS by Dave Duggan
Directed by Caitriona McLaughlin
Produced by Jonathan Burgess

"Why would an Irishman join the British Army?...Can there be poetry in the midst of war?"

Still, the Blackbird Sings - Incidents At Ebrington Barracks by Dave Duggan re-invents, in a contemporary style, dramatic events in the life of the poet-soldier Francis Ledwidge.

It finds him and his squad members in Ebrington Barracks asking the questions: "Why return to the front when we have already survived three campaigns?...Can we trick death again?...Should we desert?"

Often referred to as the "poet of the blackbirds", Ledwidge was an Irish patriot and Nationalist, killed in action on the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres during World War I.

In this exhilarating, entertaining and engaging dramatisation, Ledwidge faces questions relevant to soldiers of this day.

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2010

I ONCE KNEW A GIRL by Teya Sepinuck
Directed by Teya Sepinuck

This original multi-media Theatre of Witness production will be performed and created with women whose lives were affected by the Troubles. Based on their true stories, the production explores the lives and roles of women who were; active participants, witnesses, survivors, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, wives and partners. What are these untold stories?
Theatre of Witness is a form of performance developed by founder and artistic director Teya Sepinuck that gives voice to those who have been marginalized, forgotten or are invisible in society. Their true, life stories, performed by the people themselves, are shared onstage so that audiences can collectively bear witness to issues of suffering, redemption and social justice. ‘I once knew a girl...' is the second production created by The Playhouse Theatre of Witness Programme and follows last year's successful tour of ‘We Carried Your Secrets'.

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2010

THE MUSIC MAKERS by Eamon Friel

A group of actors are being rehearsed by a director who is a martinet and are about to stage a crazy musical. It makes no sense to them and they know it will probably turn out to be a disaster on opening night. So there is always the possibility of a cast mutiny.
Using an experienced, talented and enthusiastic cast and talented musical director Eddie O'Donnell, much loved BBC radio presenter Eamon Friel begins a new chapter in his creative career with this new musical comedy.
Including some of Friel's very best songs for Thran records as well as several new bright, funny, sad, droll and beautiful songs.

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2011

STAR MEN by Seamas Keenan

"Life is full of surprises. Old friends never let you down. First love never dies. We carry our secrets to the grave. Believe all that, and you'll believe anything!"

Thomas, a middle-aged man down on his luck, disillusioned, is content to while away his wasted life in death's waiting-room, listening to music, talking to the radio, and fighting with gangs of teenagers that disrupt his nights.

Who does Billy think he is, turning up at his front door after all this time, begging favours, anxious to rewrite his life story? And that the Hell's he doing, bringing Emma back into Thomas' life?

All soldiers share secrets. That's the nature of violence. What's the big deal about one long forgotten accident in a bloody catalogue of tragedy? You can't be responsible for everything. And sometimes, death can be least of your worries.

In ‘Star Men', the eagerly awaited new play from award-winning writer Seamas Keenan, directed by Tom Doherty, the three old friends confront their shared pasts in a welter of alcohol, vicious recrimination, deceit, powerlessness, ill-concealed desire, and claustrophobic, brutal humour.

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2011

KIND HEARTS AND GENTLE PEOPLE by Peter McDonald

"Anyone who wants to be a songwriter should listen to as much folk music as they can, study the form and structure of stuff that has been around for 100 years. I go back to Stephen Foster" Bob Dylan

Based on the life of the 'father of American popular song', Kind Hearts and Gentle People is a fascinating look at a songwriter who has become the stuff of legend in America, but whose roots begin in Ulster.

Regarded as America's first professional song-writer, Stephen Collins Foster penned some of its earliest and most famous songs, including ‘Oh! Susanna', ‘Hard Times Come Again No More', ‘Old Folks at Home' (‘Swanee River'), ‘My Old Kentucky Home' and ‘Beautiful Dreamer'.

These songs, which all feature in the production, remain popular over 150 years after their composition. His songs have influenced many iconic music legends such as Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Bob Dylan, John Prine, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Mary Black, all of whom have covered his songs.

He is also one of the North West's forgotten famous sons; his ancestors emigrated from the port of Londonderry in the 18th century.

Written by playwright Peter McDonald [The Green Room, Five Years Time] and directed by Anne McMaster [Sad Silence of Snow, Noir], Kind Hearts and Gentle People is a tale of the triumphs and tragedies that encompass the life and times of a songwriter who, despite passing away over a decade before the invention of sound recording, a long career in music that is still cherished today

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2011

THE WOOD OF THE CROWS by Stan McGowan

A new play from the pen of Stan McGowan, which tells the moving story of the death of the young and beautiful Prehen House estate heiress, Miss Mary Ann Knox, who died by the hand of her much older lover, Mr John McNaughten.

Was the fatal shot that killed her and accident, or an act of deliberate intent in order to seek revenge from her overprotective father, whose opposition to their marriage would lead to this most tragic drama?

The story has engrained itself, down through the centuries, into the consciousness of the North West, has finally been brought to the stage. McGowan brings his usual sense of intrigue and mysterious foreboding to the plot.

Set against the background of Ascendency Londonderry two hundred years ago, this stunning production is a perceptive portrayal of Georgian manners... and ill manners!

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'The Wood of the Crows' was restaged by The Playhouse in May 2012 in The Millennium Forum.

2012

RELEASE by Teya Sepinuck
Directed by Teya Sepinuck

This sold out Theatre of Witness production opened to an audience who described the ground breaking performances as "a vital contribution to healing and reconciliation in Northern Ireland".

Described as a production that "leveled the hierarchy of victimhood and crossed the barriers between ‘them and us'", the new production ‘Release' opened at the Playhouse on Thursday 25th October 2012.

The project was performed and created with six men who have each played a different role in Northern Ireland's troubled past. Each one shares the true story about their lives during the Troubles and beyond, discovering extraordinary connections of their shared history.

Audiences heard the evocative stories of a former RUC detective, a former Prison Governor, a former British soldier, two ex-prisoners and a man who had been blown up in a car bomb as a child. In the production each shared his own journey of reconciliation, redemption and healing. The production toured throughout October and November 2012 and may tour internationally during 2013.

To view production shots click here

 

2013

OVER THE WIRE by Seamas Keenan
Directed by Kenny Glenaan

It's 1974, rioting prisoners have set fire to Long Kesh jail in Belfast and much of the prison is destroyed.

This new play by multi award winning writer Seamas Keenan, directed by BAFTA award winning Scottish Film & TV Director Kenny Glenaan (Spooks, Wired), follows five prisoners now pitched into a world of violence, paranoia and hunger as they struggle against British soldiers, each other and their own personal demons.

The first of many productions produced by The Playhouse for Derry Londonderry's 2013 UK City of Culture programme, this powerful and captivating play was met with critical acclaim.

"A GRIPPING, brutal, at times bleakly funny exploration of institutionalism and paranoia" THE SCOTSMAN

"short, sharp and sometimes shocking, with Keenan's script illustrating the pains of confinement with a gimlet-eyed lack of sentimentality devastatingly portrayed by a fine ensemble cast" **** THE HERALD

‘...the production was exceptional... powerful yet provocative... the audience was hooked from the moment they stepped into the unique theatre setting...' **** BELFAST TELEGRAPH

"Keenan's fine line in black comedy shines through the grimness, in what is a powerful and gripping production." Scottish Television (STV.com)

"‘Over The Wire' is perhaps the most captivating theatre commissions Derry has hosted in recent years" Derry Journal

"a play that looks beyond questions of justification and the rights and wrongs of the Northern Irish conflict, to explore instead the loneliness and despair of the individual, caught in a particular moment of history". Irish Theatre Magazine

"Shook the audience off their seats...Such was the calibre of the acting, writing, directing and production....Over The Wire is a must see for anyone interested in modern Irish History" Irish News

Click to view production shots or promotional video.

To view show programme click here


Click here to read The Scotsman review of 'Over the Wire' at The Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Click here to read Scottish Television (STV.com) review of 'Over the Wire' at The Tron Theatre

Click here to read The Herald review of 'Over the Wire' at The Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Following its sell out world premiere at the Playhouse, 'Over the Wire' then toured to the Tron Theatre in Glasgow in May 2013. The only piece commissioned for the City of Culture programme announced to tour outside of Northern Ireland, the production was met with critical acclaim.

 

2013

ON THE SUBJECT OF LOVE by Ken McCormack
Directed by Catriona McLaughlin

Viewed as the first modern ‘European' and one of the 18th Century's great eccentrics, Bishop of Derry Frederick Augustus Hervey, was a phenomenal Builder, art collector and a notorious womaniser.

Writer and broadcaster Ken McCormack joined forces with esteemed Donegal director Caitríona McLaughlin, best known for her work on the stages of New York and London, for this new commission about 'The Earl Bishop's' life and loves in February 2013.

"Spellbinding... The beguiling tale of the learned lover had each and every member of the Playhouse audience spellbound" **** Belfast Telegraph

Click to view production shots or promotional video.

To view show programme click here

Click here to read Culture NI review

Click here to read Irish Theatre Magazine review

2013

TILLIES by Patsy Durnin
Directed by Nicky Harley

Presented by The Playhouse at The Millennium Forum, 'Tillies' is an affectionate epitaph to the women and men who sewed, sweated, laughed and cried in Derry's shirt factories through the decades, a vivid and emotional portrait of the famous factory and its times.

Opened in 1856, Tillies and Henderson's factory stood for one hundred and forty seven years as a testament to the industrialist William Tillie and to the sewing skills of the factory girls of the city until its eventual demolition in 2003

"Touching... filled with moments of sheer humour" Belfast Telegraph

"an affectionate epitaph... [a] highly personal and authentic account about life in the Tillie and Henderson shirt factory" Culture NI

Click to view production shots or promotional video.

To view show programme click here

Click here to read Culture NI review

 

2013

RE-ENERGIZE by Gary Michell
Directed by Conall Morrison

With Original Music by John and Damian O'Neill of The Undertones

Written by one of Northern Ireland's leading playwrights Gary Mitchell, ‘Re-energize' is set thirty years after ‘Punk-tastic' success of ‘Energy', where a wannabe punk band rehearsed, bickered and tried to get their act together for that all-important first gig.

Now with music composed by John and Damian O'Neill of The Undertones, and under the direction of the highly esteemed Conall Morrison, the band members re-unite to do one last gig to prove to themselves, each other, their annoying teenage children that they could have been somebody...

"taut, tense and intelligent... Played and sung live, with the volume cranked up to the max, it sounds, well, magic" Irish Theatre Magazine

"Heartwarming and humorous amidst the serious issues, the packed out audience were rocking along with the band as they practiced for their upcoming gig" **** Belfast Telegraph

"a heartwarming, life affirming comedy... Rock on" Irish News

Click to view production shots or promotional video.

To view show programme click here

Click here to read Irish Theatre Magazine review

Re-Energize Toured to The Lyric Theatre in Belfast in September 2013.

 

2013

THE COOK by Georgia Rhoades
Directed by Dennis Bohr

In 1725, Cecily Jackson was burned in Derry on a charge of petty treason. Professor at Appalachian State University, USA Georgia Rhoades explores her tragic story.

Inspired by Colm Cavanagh's work on the Derry jail, Georgia has researched the context of Cecily's death for over 10 years, reading about Derry life in the early 18th century, Bishop Nicolson and the history of St. Columb's, servants' lives, civil punishment, 18th century recipes, and customs of the privileged classes in Northern Ireland.

While much is unknown, The Cook is an imaginative treatment of the year before the execution and what led Cecily Jackson to her death.

"Well acted, well conceived, with beautiful composition...very very good" BBC Radio Ulster

Click to view photographs.

To view show programme click here

 

2013

THE CLEARING by Helen Edmundson

Produced in partnership with Dear Conjunction Theatre Company, Paris
Directed by Patricia Kessler

‘The Clearing' is set during the years of the Irish transplantation and the era of Cromwell. All Irish and English settlers who had fought against the Commonwealth were to be dispossessed of their land and banished, on pain of execution, to inhospitable and famine-stricken Connaught.

Robert Preston, a young English Protestant has married Maddy O'Hart, a fiery Irish Catholic. They live happily on Robert's family home in Ireland, until Cromwell's laws threaten not only their happiness, but their lives.

The play is an emotional rollercoaster of love, betrayal, power and class.

"Yet again this little venue by the walls casts its unquivering gaze on the largest of political and historical subjects. Told without flinching, The Clearing is as good a weapon for political theatre as we've come to expect from Artillery Street... this opus is magnificent in scale and scope. Think Irish history told by the RSC" Derry Journal (Click here to read full review)

Click here to view photographs.

 

2013

Three Monologues: Twinkletoes, Mustn't Forget High Noon, Christine by Jennifer Johnston

Three monologues written by Jennifer Johnston in response to The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
In Mustn't Forget High Noon the best friend of a young Protestant man, Billy, has just been shot by the IRA. In Christine the wife of Billy and she mourns his violent death at the hands of the IRA. In Twinkletoes the wife of a top IRA prisoner and is looked up to by her community.
These monologues have rarely been performed, and this project is an opportunity to showcase the lesser known dramatic work of one of Ireland's greatest living writers.
This production was performed both in the Playhouse itself, and several on location matinee performances, when the audience were taken to three mystery locations.

"an intense, intriguing evening of quiet drama and sombre reflection, of dry humour and old fashioned values: a satisfying opportunity to showcase three exquisitely constructed but lesser known dramatic works by one of Ireland's most accomplished living writers" Irish Theatre Magazine

"in Jennifer Johnston's Three Monologues, the Playhouse's final offering of the year, it has kept the best to the last" Culture NI

"There is no doubt this was a production that many will talk about, and which will be a highlight for many... I hope that innovative and unique productions like these will continue to come from The Playhouse in 2014 and beyond" Derry Journal.

Click here to view photographs.

 



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