Then and now: McGuinness still divides

When news that Martin McGuinness had been filmed and interviewed in 1985 for a BBC documentary reached the ears of the British Government, all hell broke loose. Thatcher had already warned that broadcasters must “starve” terrorists of the “oxygen of publicity”.

But that warning was routinely ignored by an opportune Paul Hamann, an experienced BBC documentary makeer. He had, by chance, secured an extended ‘at home’ style interview with McGuinness and his wife, as well as with a vitriolic  Gregory Campbell.

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Results from the Mid Ulster Drama Festival

I was full of good intentions about covering the 43rd drama festival every night, but the reality of getting home, making dinner, firing it into me, getting changed and driving up to Carrickmore before 8pm and then not getting home ‘til after 11pm left little time.

Anyway Saturday night was a great one. The award ceremony followed the Corofin Dramatic Society’s performance of John Patrick Shanley’s ‘Doubt, A Parable’. The Clare players did a great job, with another excellent set. The standard of sets for an amateur festival was unreal this year. The subject of ‘Doubt’ was very timely given the ongoing crisis in the Catholic Church, the play asks what happens when you suspect a case of clerical abuse, but have no way to prove it. Read more of this post

Who holds these graves?

Martin McGuinness will be the main speaker at the Easter Rising commemoration in Carrickmore this Sunday.

In an unusual move the organisers have arranged a street re-enactment of the 1916 Rising, incorporating narrative and song. Though I daresay the interpretation may be a tad more partial than Sean O’Casey’s drama on the historic day, staged last Monday night by Omagh Players in Carrickmore’s Patrician hall during the Mid Ulster Drama Festival (Not in anyway aligned to the Easter commemoration.)

This new approach to the annual demonstration represents a continuing  move away from the traditional format of the Easter commemoration by mainstream Republicanism. The commemorations have been suffering something of an identity crisis in recent years with smaller crowds, less relevance the political direction of Sinn Fein have made the concept of colour party and dogmatic oration increasingly redundant. Read more of this post

Modern Ireland, ya’know?

Play: Shining City by Conor McPherson

Group: Cornmill Theatre Company, Co. Leitrim

Open section

After opening sentiments from festival secretary James Warnock and Seamus McNabb of Omagh District Council’s arts and culture sub-committee, the audience settled down for the opening play of the festival on Friday night.

The opening moments of a play, never mind the opening play of  a festival always suffers from a few moments of discomfort in my opinion, until the players and audience settle into the task at hand. The fact that Shining City opens to such discomfort anyway with a middle-aged man entering the upstairs office of a therapist for the first time only escalates the cathartic uneasiness of the audience. This perhaps made the opening scene difficult with broken sentences and stuttered interaction as patient John, on the cusp of breakdown struggles to explain to inexperienced therapist Ian why he is there. You can only feel that this is the very point McPherson wants to stress throughout the play, broken communication, characters struggle to say what they really mean.

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Opening night of 43rd Mid-Ulster Drama Festival

The 43rd Mid-Ulster Film Festival got underway in typical fashion last night in the festival’s traditional home, ‘The Patrician’, Carrickmore.

Opening night always has the same buzz around it, good crowd, people swamping reception after their tickets and general great atmosphere in the air. The festival got the major boost a few years back in the form of a refurbished Patrician Hall in Carrickmore. While it may struggle to rival some of the features of other new auditoriums around Tyrone, namely Omagh’s Strule Arts Centre, Strabane’s Alley Arts Theatre and Cookstown’s Burnavon, the re-branded ‘Patrician’ offers a substantial improvement for the loyal festival going audience.

Neither can the new theatres rival the heritage of Carrickmore’s annual festival.

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Holylands disturbances played down

With the media who did descend on Belfast’s Holyland’s for St Patrick’s day leaving seemingly disappointed by early evening, most seemed to have missed the main action late on in Palestine Street.

Looking for trouble

BBC’s coverage of the story is largely confined to the PSNI’s statement today. Focusing on arrest statistics, the story all but manages to slip in at the bottom the official police line.

“In one incident in Palestine Street, officers were aware of very loud music being played.”

UTV on the other hand went down the ‘morning after’ approach, interviewing Raymond Farley from the Holylands Resident Group who was “outraged” by the police response on Palestine Street to street drinkers.

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