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Theatre Peace Building Academy

The Playhouse theatre and Peacebuilding Academy


Art that allows reflection, active dialogue on consequences of conflict, and techniques to engage with painful memories...

An ambitious £679,000 EU PEACE IV funded project to create a new truth recovery arts initiative.

The cross-border ‘Theatre Peace Building Academy' will work with representatives from interface and highly segregated areas (e.g. Tigers Bay, Belfast), historical atrocities, victims and survivors (e.g. relatives of those killed or injured) and public sector (e.g. PSNI).

Theatre will be used as a tool to explore community relations issues in a safe and accessible environment, promoting healing and reconciliation in a liberating, healing and transformative way.

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 project, launched at The Playhouse on Tuesday 26 June, will recruit eight local artists and a range of internationally based artists, with significant experience of utilising arts activity in conflict areas/ areas of social breakdown throughout the world.

An estimated 76 cross-community participants will be reached, and four touring Multi Media Theatre productions will be created and eight non-touring Multi Media Theatre productions (through Local Projects). An estimated 4,000 people will attend the Multi Media Theatre productions created.

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.

Playwright, trained oral archivist, theatre producer, director and facilitator Jo Egan is the first of four Socially Engaged Theatre Practitioners for the project. Jo's six month residency will culminate in a theatre production at The Playhouse in November 2018 and she will be working in and around the North West of Ireland region.

Theatre and film director, writer and producer Robert Rae's six month residency will begin in September 2018 and end in March 2019 and will be based in South Armagh and Border counties. Robert's work will be concerned thematically with the tragedies that occurred in the South Armagh and Border counties region in the darkest days of The Troubles.

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).

Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Executive Office and the Department for Rural and Community Development.


The Playhouse theatre and Peacebuilding Academy    


The Crack in Everything

The Crack in Everything

by Jo Egan

The Playhouse and Brian Friel Theatre, Belfast
November & December 2018

Since May 2018, six families, who’ve experienced the killing of a child within their family, shared their stories and experiences. These narratives, spanning the years 1971 – 1981 related a complex and remarkable interweaving of events. Over twenty people took part in one-to-one interviews with family members, friends of the children, school teachers, neighbours, peace activists and specialists in trauma. This theatre production related stories of despair, love, anger, humour, bravery and sheer will.

“It was a privilege to hear their stories, yet distressing to realise that without the Derry Playhouse Theatre and Peace Building Academy... I mightn’t have been introduced to these heart-breaking reminders of the continued human cost of the conflict.” Alan in Belfast





Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin
December 2018

Old Ground
Buried Stories
Deep Roots
The earth beneath our feet takes no sides.

An evocative dance theatre production exploring our troubled past through a fusion of original poetry and music and performed by a professional and community cast. 

Choreographed by Eileen McClory 

Poetry Maria McManus 

Music Keith Acheson

The artist overseeing this in collaboration with her support team is Eileen McClory prominent Artistic Director, choreographer, and movement specialist - and her production team of, composer, poet, and designer. TURF has been developed from source material: memories, writings / poetry, experiences of many of the performers who have taken part in production, storytelling, and memoir workshops.


 Forgive Me Not

Forgive me Not

The Playhouse
December 2018

A short film by Conan McIvor.

In contemporary Northern Ireland, many of those lived through The Troubles are reaching old age. At the heart of Forgive Me Not lies a series of profound propositions - can a post-conflict society truly heal without atonement; can we achieve reconciliation when victims' memories are failing; what is the role of forgiveness in the healing process. Forgive Me Not explores these questions following cross-community engagement with those personally affected by the conflict.

Following the death of his wife to cancer, Martin - a former paramilitary - becomes increasingly racked with guilt over his involvement in The Troubles and the widow he helped create. In an effort to atone for his actions, Martin visits Bridie - the elderly wife of one of his victims - in her nursing home to confess; however, Bridie has Alzheimer’s dementia. A looming Public Inquiry into murders committed during The Troubles gives Martin's quest for personal atonement a pressing sense of urgency; he returns everyday to confess anew, with increasing frustration.



Blood Red Lines 

Blood Red Lines

Newry Town Hall, Brian Friel Theatre Belfast and An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk
February & March 2019

Devised and Directed by Robert Rae. Music by Tommy Sands. 

A new piece of verbatim theatre.

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 … and the impact upon their own lives of the events they endured.

Ordinary people who lived through the tragedies in South Armagh, Border Counties and Dublin shared their stories.

BAFTA winning film and theatre maker Robert Rae collaborated with those impacted by conflict, horror and loss in the darkest days of The Troubles to develop a remarkable piece of contemporary theatre.


“Helps in ways that judicial structures have been unable to, demonstrating the potential of the arts in reconciliation and peacebuilding work...”

“visceral, gritty and emotional, local testimony of the conflict and the struggle for truth and justice” 



 In the Shadow of Gullion

In the Shadow of Gullion 

By Laurence McKeown

At Tí Chulainn, South Armagh & The Duncairn Arts Centre, Belfast

April 2019


Survival and retaining dignity in the face of adversity…

A live multi-media event exploring the landscape of South Armagh through the eyes of seven victims/survivors of The Troubles.

Through the prism of the personal stories of individuals severely impacted by the conflict in the South Armagh and Border Counties region, In the Shadow of Gullion uses film, sound, theatre, music, song, and narration to foreground South Armagh as an area of natural beauty, rich in folklore, culture, and tradition. This understanding and presentation is interwoven with an exploration of the region as a place that has been besieged by strife and conflict over many centuries.

Renowned playwright, scriptwriter and filmmaker Laurence McKeown presents a brand new work that does not interrogate the rights and wrongs of each shared story, but explores the different perspectives of those involved, and the legacy for individuals today.

This production is the latest by The Playhouse Theatre Peace Building Academy, a cross border arts programme that gives creative expression to the experience of living in Northern Ireland and memory of The Troubles.


Loved In the Shadow of Gullion. It was moving, portrayed both sides of the conflict, and really captured what we all went through. Very moving.” Audience Member

“outstanding performance… It was a very poignant revisit for me which I struggled with to be fair.” Audience Member





by Emer Kenny

Album Launch The Spirit Store, Dundalk
November 2019

A unique endeavour centred on the composition and interpretation of music and songs driven and inspired by first-hand accounts of specific events and tragedies connected to the conflict in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties.

In the production and recording of 'Ghosts' with producer and engineer John Murphy, Emer has interviewed and worked with six individuals severely impacted by The Troubles - these include Stephen Travers, a survivor of the Miami Showband massacre, July 1975, who plays bass on the album in addition to reading an excerpt from his book.
Giving spoken word testimonies are Margaret English whose father, Hugh Watters, was killed by a car bomb left outside Kay's Tavern in Crowe Street, Dundalk, Christmas 1975; David Cunningham and his mother Mary, who were caught up in Clarke's Bar bombing Monaghan Street, Newry on Christmas Eve 1973; and Will Glendinning, who was an Alliance Party Councillor and Assembly Member for West Belfast 1977-1986 and served in the UDR in Armagh in the early 1970s.
Also performing on the album is the Rev Gary Hastings, Rector of Holy Trinity, Killiney, a respected traditional musician and academic who has performed with the Chieftains. He is as an expert on Ulster's two- hundred- year- old fife and drum tradition and has been involved with peacebuilding for many years.

"The stories were so diverse, moving and poignant and Emers choice of musical accompaniment fitted uncomfortably well, but I think that was the point. Last year I went to see [Blood] Red Lines in the town hall in Dundalk and I was equally moved by the stories. You guys are doing an amazing job of telling peoples personal stories, in a non confrontational way, which allows people to be both honest and truthful, through the medium of art. I feel the more people can talk about their stories, the quicker we can move forward... well done." Audience Member





Ghosts                                             Identity with Will Glendinning



Silence is Betrayal                                         Wolves
with Stephen Travers 


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