New play about Bloody Sunday to premier on 50th anniversary of shootings
A new play dramatising the events of Bloody Sunday is to premier on the 50th anniversary of the notorious shootings.
The White Handkerchief will be performed in the Guildhall in Londonderry on January 30 next year.
The production, which will be available to a global audience on a live stream, is being presented by Derry’s Playhouse and will involve a cast of local actors.
The drama’s name is inspired by the iconic image of priest Fr Edward Daly waving a blood stained handkerchief as he led a group of people carrying one of the victims – 17-year-old Jackie Duddy – from the scene of the shootings.
Jackie was one of 13 civil rights protesters shot dead by British soldiers on January 30 1972. Another man shot by paratroopers on the day died four months later.
Details of the premier were announced at an event at the Playhouse on Wednesday. Relatives of the victims of Bloody Sunday have already attended a preview performance.
Jackie Duddy’s family still possess the white handkerchief.
The teenager’s sister Kay Duddy and niece Julieann Campbell attended the launch at the Playhouse on Wednesday.
“It’s incredible to think that fifty years after Bloody Sunday, these events can still be overwhelming,” said Ms Campbell.
“Derry’s Playhouse has achieved something truly unique in this production. I remember watching my older relatives – Jackie’s brothers and sisters – mesmerised at the preview performance.
“It was so emotional, and we cried so much seeing it all unfold and hearing the stunning music. The Playhouse has done our family proud and Derry proud. I can see The White Handkerchief on the West End stage and Broadway. It’s just amazing.”
The play written by Liam Campbell will tell the stories of the victims and their families.
The civil rights march had been on its way to the Guildhall before the events of Bloody Sunday unfolded in the Bogside area of the city.
The actors taking to the stage at the Guildhall are part of the Playhouse’s recently established Musical Theatre Academy.
Playhouse director Kieran Griffiths said: “This piece is a sensitive honouring of the lives of those lost, a commemoration that does not diminish the horror of that day.
“It will be an elegy – a piece that marries dramatic narrative with a reverent musical score to give space for previously unexplored moments in history.
“It is essential to us that this production features a completely local cast and we are very proud to have set up a new educational programme to feed into the production, giving a worldwide platform to the incredible talent of this city.”
Writer Liam Campbell added: “I am honoured and humbled to be part of the creative team along with composer Brian O Doherty and director Kieran Griffiths delivering this elegy – this observance to tragedy and bravery and innocence, this landmark piece of theatre.”
Gilly Campbell, from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, which supports the Playhouse through National Lottery funding, said: “This production, and its accompanying educational programme, demonstrates the power of using the arts as a peacebuilding tool to create open dialogue around challenging and sensitive subjects.”
The play will run from January 30 to February 5 in the Guildhall.
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