Michelle & Arlene: Ulster Says Snow … making political satire out of stasis (Accidental Theatre, 6/7/13 December)

The fourth in the series of Michelle and Arlene satirical plays – Ulster Says Snow! – is due to hit the stage of Accidental Theatre in Belfast’s Shaftesbury Square next week. Running alongside the Human Rights Festival, Rosemary Jenkinson hopes that this new show can explore many different rights, rather than just being a narrow snapshot of local politics.

Review: Michelle & Arlene – two game politicians flip flop after staying in close contact over summer

What would it take for a Northern Ireland politician to change their mind on one of any number of intractable issues? A satirical play finds out what might happen if Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill spent time away together and faced up to some of the policy issues that divide their parties and stall political progress. Accidental Theatre produce Rosemary Jenkinson’s Rapid Response play.

Michelle & Arlene – a fine foemance on a satirical trip away (24-26 August)

NEW DRAMA by Rosemary Jenkinson taking a satirical look at the state of local politics. Pantomime, pantyhose, and politics in this fictional imagining of two leaders who keep bumping into each other on Ibiza. “In spite of their initial hostility, it’s almost as if they are fated to be closer than they ever thought possible!” (Accidental Theatre, 24-26 August)

Entitled – “What theatre should be – critical and a little bit political” (The MAC until Sat 18 + tour)

ENTITLED – Entitled to benefits? Dignity? Protection? A new play asks how much difference the welfare reform mitigations make on the ground? How fair are the processes? How do politicians square up their talk about equality and adoration of figures like Winifred Carney with the legacy of welfare reform in Northern Ireland? The MAC, SCORE, Sean Hollywood Arts Centre and The Playhouse.

Review – Green and Blue – a thoughtful and respectful dramatisation of border policing

GREEN AND BLUE is a thoughtful and respectful dramatisation of oral history, illuminating life of officers and their families. While there are many moments of laughter throughout, it’s not all levity: the performance doesn’t shy away from the deadly aspects of Troubles policing, and the mounting personal trauma of policing terrorism and being terrorised, of shooting being shot at.

Belfast Festival preview – Casement, Cooper and Chekhov (11-29 October) #BelFest

QUICK PREVIEW of the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival which runs from 11-29 October. The life and legacy of Roger Casement is examined, along with 100 years of women’s emancipation, the refugee crisis (with a lecture by MP Yvette Cooper on how the UK should do more), Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women, a new adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters by Lucy Caldwell, a play about RUC and Garda officers patrolling the border and three concerts by the flamboyant Taylor Mac.

1916-2016 play Rebellion has its premiere in Glasgow…

Worth a mention, given the day that’s in it. One of our bloggers Phil Mac Giolla Bhain has just ended a short run of his play Rebellion in his native Glasgow. Rebellion is themed around the rediscovery of a family history tracing one Glaswegian family back several generations to the 1916 Rising. Former Herald journo, Robbie Dinwoodie was there on Monday, I think… Elements which appealed to these Glasgow audiences, particularly the Rangers-supporting character who is the butt of many … Read more

Dave Duggan’s DENIZEN – a dissident republican addresses the court – drama performed in an actual courtroom

The word ‘denizen’ conjures up the notion of a citizen, yet perhaps one with fewer rights or living somewhere that isn’t home. It’s also the title of Dave Duggan’s new play, a courtroom drama written in verse which opens in the north west this weekend and will be performed in two courthouses. Interviewed last week, the playwright told me: The conceit in the play is that the judges have given Denizen an hour to speak to the court of public … Read more

Preview: Stitched Up (by Rosemary Jenkinson): a play asking how difficult is it to be moral in contemporary society?

With NHS cuts, closures and scandals never out of the news, health minister Jim Wells may need to cross his fingers that a piece of theatre by Rosemary Jenkinson stays on the Lyric Theatre’s stage and doesn’t end up on his desk in weeks to come. Directed by C21 Theatre Company’s Stephen Kelly, Stitched Up is a one act play starring Richard Clements as an NHS surgeon Aidan who has turned whistleblower in order to try to clear his name … Read more

More Than A Flag – East Belfast bandsmen poignantly look back at WW1 as the audience see potential #BelFest

Twelve young guys who couldn’t be much older than twenty. Most with no acting experience. Some haven’t been in a theatre never mind standing on a stage. Bandsmen. Proud of their community, proud of their culture and their flag. Often derided, stereotyped, and written off. Over the last couple of months, Dan Gordon has realised a long held dream and produced More Than A Flag, a powerful piece of community arts by Happenstance Theatre that will be premièred in the … Read more

Schaubühne’s “An Enemy of the People” – an incredible political thriller coming to Belfast Festival #BelFest

Dirty politics, abandoned loyalties, live music, paint thrown around and questions about the role of individuals and the state … The plot of An Enemy of the People could be a big screen thriller in the cinema. Instead this is probably the best of a new generation of theatre that will play on the island of Ireland this year, courtesy of the Belfast Festival. It’s also the only time you’ll ever see a paint fight in the Grand Opera House. … Read more

Forget Turkey – sketches, songs, political satire & belly laughs

The Lyric Theatre’s Forget Turkey is packed full of sketches, songs, spoof adverts and a narrative thread about a supermarket that’s closing its shutters. Multimedia rich and packed with more laughs a minute than any show I’ve attended in years, Forget Turkey starts strongly with a musical review of the year that covers local and world events. Images are projected onto the gable wall of a house, with lyrics of some of the songs appearing to tempt the audience to … Read more

Pending Vote: Democracy 101 in the Lyric as part of #BelFest

Over a hundred people filed into the Lyric’s Naughton Studio clutching their digital binary voting handsets: we used our fingers to press the Yes or No buttons. Seated on three sides of the small theatre facing a large screen with a blinking cursor, the audience quickly got used to answering questions as the timer counted down to zero. For a while Roger Bernat’s Pending Vote felt like the true beginnings of the much lauded seldom found new politics in Northern … Read more

Where is the Protestant community today? Discussion in East Belfast on Thursday evening, along with preview of Paisley & Me

Paisley & Me is a new play by Ron Hutchinson that examines Ulster Protestants through the eyes of Ian Paisley and his family. Dan Gordon will be donning his heavy overcoat and dog collar [Ed – Never!?] to play the preacher and politician, joined on stage by actors Stella McCusker, Lalor Roddy and Des McAleer. The play opens in the Marketplace Theatre in Armagh on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 October, before transferring to The Grand Opera House for a … Read more

London Letter: Arts face tough year in 2011

It’s hard to make an economic case for the arts at a time when all departments face cuts and shortages. However, many believe that the survival and continued nurturing of the arts needs to be fought for, as thousands of people are employed in the sector in Northern Ireland and it is such a huge part of the social structure. In recent years, it has become more popular for people to attend the theatre (particularly affordable community theatre) and it … Read more

Black Watch – swearing like troopers

I was fortunate enough to get a couple of tickets to the National Theatre of Scotlands production of the multi award winning play  Black Watch. The play, based on interviews with former and serving soldiers in the regiment during it’s two deployments to Iraq is a masterpiece of theatre and it’s easy to see why it has won so many awards (10+). Clever staging and at times mesmorising and innovative choreography are used to great effect, reinforcing the idea of … Read more

The Boat Factory – launched in East Belfast last night

The Boat Factory, play by Dan Gordon, produced by Happenstance Theatre Company

Dan Gordon’s new play The Boat Factory opened in the heart of East Belfast last night. Part drama, part documentary, it plots out the development of the shipyard in Belfast, as well as charting the social history of the shipyard workers. Produced by Happenstance Theatre Company and directed by Philip Crawford, it’s the story Davy Gordon – played by Dan Gordon and based on his father – growing up and following his brothers into Harland and Wolff as an apprentice. … Read more