‘Border Stories’ programme

Posted on: 8th January 2019

VR technology, an album launch; and a live multi-media event- Arts used to foreground South Armagh’s troubled past


The Playhouse Theatre Peace Building Academy presents ‘Border Stories’ programme

Pioneering digital storytelling formatswill be used in a new programme of events exploring the testimony ofindividuals who have experienced violence during The Troubles in South Armagh and border counties.

Ground-breaking VR technology, music and live multimedia events will be used by The Playhouse Theatre Peace Building Academyto give artistic expression to the experience of living in Northern Ireland and memory of The Troubles.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Declan Keeney will use ground-breaking VR technology to create an immersive documentary filmed in Virtual Reality in March 2019. The final work will be an immersive documentary filmed in Virtual Reality entitled ‘Frictionless’.

Internationally critically acclaimed musician and vocalist Emer Kenny will then compose music inspired by interviews and experiences related to The Troubles, in a professionally produced and recorded album that will be launched in a live musical event in April 2019.

Renowned playwright, scriptwriter and filmmaker Laurence McKeown will create a multi-media, live event with focus upon the land and the landscape, to be staged in April 2019. Shared experiences and memories will be interpreted in ‘Conflict Scars’, the professional show involving film, sound, theatre, music, song, and narration.

BAFTA winning film and theatre maker Robert Rae has also carried out a six month residency in Newry as part of the programme to create a contemporary piece of theatre ‘Blood Red Lines’ to tour Newry, Dundalk and Belfast in February/ March. CLICK HERE to read more about Robert's residency.

In the play, survivors and former combatants wrestle with the complexity of how and what to tell the next generation, their individual rights set against the refusal of the state to share the truth, growing anxiety about the effect Brexit will have on peace… and the impact upon their own lives of the events they endured.

“Every border has two sides, every story has at least two sides in respect of our recent memory of the conflict and yet the idea of border acknowledges that this may not be a frictionless or uncontested process”filmmaker Declan Keeney said.

“Virtual Reality is a powerful new tool that can help humanise the story of the ‘other’ and brings the viewer into peoples lived experience, spaces and communities that they may not have engaged with in the past.”

Laurence McKeown said: “The over-arching intention is not to interrogate the rights and wrongs of each shared story - but rather to present the different perspectives of those involved leading up to, during, after the event and the legacy for individuals today - in the spirit of promoting understanding by offering personal insight and in the context of Peace building. The key theme will be survival and retaining dignity in the face of adversity – this will be underpinned with an aim to show how South Armagh, an area designated as one of natural beauty, is rich in folklore, culture, and tradition but one also that has suffered great tragedy, strife and cycles of conflict.”

The Playhouse will work in partnership with Holywell Trust, Thomas D’Arcy McGee Foundation and Queens University Belfast to deliver The Playhouse Theatre Peace Building Academy. 

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.




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