Theatre Preview: Blinkered – The Lyric Theatre, Belfast
February 20, 2017 Laura Caldwell 0 Comments
A new hard-hitting drama, following the story of a young man trying to cope with the pressures of everyday life, opens this week at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.
Produced by Derry-based Sole Purpose Productions, now in its 20th year, Blinkered provides an insight into the mind of a young man as he battles with depression, loneliness and the darkness that overshadows his thoughts. It received standing ovations when it opened at The Derry Playhouse on 9th February.
Supported by the Touring and Dissemination of Work Programme (jointly funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and An Chomhairle Ealaion) and the ESB Energy for Generations Fund, the four-night run at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast is part of a tour which will see the production brought to audiences North and South of the border.
Speaking about the play, writer Patricia Byrne, explained:
“When I was writing Blinkered, I had to get inside the head of this young man who is contemplating suicide and struggling with depression. But I also had to get into the heads of the people around him – his mother, his father, his sister. This play carries the message that we can say the word suicide, that we can have these conversations. We don’t have to keep quiet.”
The play is directed by Shauna Kelpie and the highly talented cast includes Patrick McBrearty (Three Sisters The Lyric), Cathy Brennan Bradley (The Lantern Man by Jane Coyle), Pat Lynch (Over The Wire The Playhouse) and Gemma Walker (The Makey Uppers).
Statistics released within the recent Health Survey NI 2015/16 showed 29% of females and 13% of males aged 16-24 had a possible mental illness.
Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Development Officer, Lizzie Devlin, commented:
“Blinkered is a universal story and one that will resonate with audiences everywhere. By holding a mirror up to life, the arts can help us to understand the world around us, offering a safe route to explore difficult issues, as well as challenging prejudice and discrimination. The Arts Council is pleased to be able to support Sole Purpose in bringing this important play to regional audiences. ”
Last year, in the Playhouse, the play had a profound effect on a school group on an exchange trip to Derry from Roosevelt High School in Seattle. A student commented, “Words cannot describe the impact that Blinkered had on me. As someone who rarely ever cries, I felt myself struggling to hold myself together. We are now hoping to use what we saw and learned from the play and workshop and bring it to our own school in the hopes of spreading awareness and dialogue.”
Patricia Byrne has been invited to visit Roosevelt High School in Seattle and conduct workshops around the issues raised in Blinkered. The Northern Ireland Bureau in New York is also interested in promoting this work in the USA. Patricia will travel to Seattle and New York in May with the support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Artist International Development Fund. This is huge validation for the quality of the production and the work of Sole Purpose Productions
Performances will be followed by an interactive theatre workshop which will explore issues raised in the play. Professionals working in suicide prevention will be present at each performance, The Samaritans will also be available to inform people of their services.
Running from Tues 21st – Fri 24th February at the Lyric in Belfast, shows are at 1.30pm and 8pm. To find out more information, or to book tickets, click here.