Four men get together in a bar in Lifford. It’s 1938 and the clouds of another World War are looming – twenty years after the conflict that had been described as the war to end all wars.
It’s bloody legacy is still impacting on the lives of countless citizens on both sides of the border and for these particular men it comes in different guises, each of them with stories to tell, questions to ask and pain to endure. They’re forced to remember and forced to confront, little known that the world is on the very verge of another five years of slaughter and needless loss of lives in the millions.
As the country marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the Balor DCA once again has been bringing its production of Jonathan Burgess’s play ‘Remembrances’ to audiences in the North-West. Staged in recent weeks in Glenties, Pettigo and Glencolmcille to enthusiastic response, it comes home to Ballybofey’s Balor Theatre this Tuesday and Wednesday nights (7th and 8th) and promised packed houses.
“It’s essentially an anti-war play with the theme of peace and reconciliation running through it,” says director, Kieran Quinn.
“It’s a play we have looked forward to re-staging and one that is obviously appropriate at this time.”
Featuring some of the most talented actors in these parts, the play was originally produced by the Balor DCA in 2012 as part of the International Fund for Ireland’s Building Foundations Extension programme.
Secondary school students have also viewed the production and come away duly affected by the contents of the play and the pain of the four main protagonists. It’s been produced at a time when the Peace Process here continues to flourish so much so that many of our young have no grasp of the Troubles that brought an all-too recent war to this small island.
“It’s as much an awareness-raising as anything and even in the two years since we first staged it, the landscape has changed,” says Andrew McNulty, DC Co-ordinator.
For families who have personal links to both World Wars, the play brings added poignancy. “The play has stirred up many memories for a lot of people involved and when we have been talking to anyone about the subject matter they nearly all have a story relating to World War One.”
One added feature of the production is the use of a filmed backdrop depicting the trenches of the Somme and Flanders. The filming took place in Gallinagh’s farm in Stranorlar where the scenes were recreated by J.C. Bonar who has worked in the film industry in Dublin and throughout Ireland. “We had a film crew in from Derry to take in the scenes,” Andrew reveals.
The playwright, Jonathan Burgess, is a freelance producer, writer and director, based in Derry with a well-acclaimed track record in the industry.
The cast features a range of talented actors including: Gray Crossan, who has previously worked in roles under the direction of Jonathan Burgess such as “The Broken Covenant” and “Crows on the Wire” and also has also involved in an Irish tour of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”; Kevin Gallagher, who has worked closely with the Balor Theatre, playing many major roles in classic productions such as ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ and ‘Philadelphia, Here I Come’; Jack Quinn, who has worked with theatre companies such as Tinderbox and Big Telly; Cathleen Bradley who has appeared on BBC’s ‘Eureka Street’, ‘Silent Grace’ and RTE’s ‘On Home Ground’; and Keith Lynch, who has made a name for himself in his hometown of Derry, predominantly within musical theatre in roles in ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘The Music Makers’.
As part of the recent Culture Night in Letterkenny, a segment of the play was performed at the Donegal County Museum involving three of the actors, Kevin Gallagher, Jack Quinn and Daniel Browne.
The curtain goes up at the Balor on Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8.30pm.