Ulster at Play Pays Homage to Northern Irish Theatre

Derry Guildhall, which partly inspired McConnell's production. (Photo: Turlough McConnell Communications)

By Olivia O'Mahoney
April / May 2018

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Origin 1st Irish Theatre Fest, which ran during the month of January, welcomed all those with a love of the Irish arts scene to attend any of its seven productions and nine special events over its three-week run. Among the featured productions was playwright and producer Turlough McConnell’s Ulster at Play, a dramatic performance about the very notion of dramatic performance itself that seeks to expose the complex and passionate history of theatre in Northern Ireland. The play was featured in the Irish Fest’s Transformation Through Creativity symposium at the Irish American Historical Society in Manhattan.

McConnell grew up 14 miles from Derry in Buncrana, County Donegal, and performed at the Derry Guildhall (pictured above) with his school. Built in 1890 and surviving several bombings, it is the home of Derry and Strabane County District Council and the Feis Foire Colmcille, an event which celebrates Irish culture.

Spotlighting the work of many key Northern Irish dramatists such as Donegal playwright Frank McGuinness, the mind behind celebrated play Observe the Sons of Ulster, Marching Towards the Somme, Ulster at Play works to re-evaluate the role they had – and continue to have – in defining Irishness itself, defying even the most one-dimensional view of Northern Irish conflict with a fond, and uniquely thespian, flair. ♦


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