Jane Coyle’s award-winning play returns to the place of its birth.
The Suitcase has been taken up by Open House Theatre, a company which presents high quality, story driven theatre, film and media productions, predominantly in the English language, in performance spaces across Vienna. It will be its first bilingual production.
As soon as he read the script, Open House Theatre’s joint creative director Robert Neumayr was convinced that it was a play which the company should present:
“I am delighted to be directing this beautiful play in Vienna next month," says Neymayr. “In our country’s - or perhaps the world’s – current political climate, at a time where Holocaust memorials are being vandalised in the city centre of Vienna, I believe we are in desperate need of stories that remind us that at the end of every political agenda are human beings. We must never forget. To me, The Suitcase is such a story.”
In the Jewish Museum in Vienna, Coyle came across an exhibit which inspired the play and prompted the intriguing storyline.
“It is difficult to describe the joy I feel at the prospect of taking this precious play back to its home place”, says Coyle. “As a writer, I am excited about working for the first time on a bilingual script. The play’s final line is ‘We have to take Galina home.’ I am honoured that an international company like Open House Theatre is giving me the opportunity to do just that.”
The new production has been supported by a grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Travel Awards Scheme. Caoileann Curry-Thompson, ACNI arts development officer for drama and dance, commented:
"The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is committed to supporting artists in showcasing their work to new audiences outside the region. We are delighted to support talented writer Jane Coyle present this poignant play in Vienna, helping to shine a spotlight on the artistic talent that is inherent to Northern Ireland.”
It has also received promotional support from the Jewish Museum, Vienna, the British Embassy and Ambassador Leigh Turner, and the British Council for Austria and director Martin Gilbert.
Co-producers: Powerstone, Tinderbox & DU Dance
Date: 15 to 17 February 2020
Venue: Ranfurly House Arts Centre, Dungannon
The worldwide issue of migration, as experienced by a small child, is the subject of a proposed new dance theatre performance piece, which goes into development next month.
Powerstone will join with two of Northern Ireland’s top independents for an extended workshop at Ranfurly House Arts Centre in Dungannon.
Writer Jane Coyle (Powerstone), director Patrick J O’Reilly (Tinderbox) and choreographer Sheena Kelly (DU Dance) will be working with the young multi-cultural members of Sutemos and Suteminis dance groups.
The original concept for Little Stranger emerged from a chance encounter on a Paris street.
“On one of the coldest nights of November 2018, I was in Paris”, recalls Coyle. “I saw, huddled together on the pavement, a refugee family, father, mother and two children - a boy of about 12 and a girl of about 7. I stopped to speak with them for a few minutes.
“As I said my goodbyes, the little girl put out her hand, with a smile that could have lit up the whole city. I can still feel her small, warm hand, dry with dirt from the street. I think about her often. This piece is for her and for children like her, who desperately need the support and understanding of privileged countries like ours.”
Through the language of dance and physical theatre, the wordless, abstract narrative will translate the experience of a child pitched into a foreign city, engulfed by bureaucracy and different languages and cultures.
Funding has come from the Community Relations Council, which previously supported Powerstone’s productions of The Suitcase and The Lantern Man.
"The Community Relations Council is funding the Little Stranger project through our Community Relations and Cultural Diversity Small Grant Scheme” says Paul Jordan, CRC’s director of funding and development.
“The investment is intended to increase understanding of cultural backgrounds, and support migrants and refugees in integrating into communities across Northern Ireland”.
Winner of the Belfast Telegraph Audience Award at the 2015 Belfast International Arts Festival
Back by popular demand ... Powerstone is reviving this award-winning play and bringing it to audiences across Northern Ireland as part of 2019 Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations.
The storyline moves between modern day Belfast and 1930s Europe during the darkest days of the 20th century.
In Vienna, a young woman dreams of becoming a dancer. In Belfast, an elderly man revisits a painful past, while a bereaved mother and daughter unearth a little nugget of history long hidden in their family home.
Three of the four original cast reprise their roles and are joined by one of Ireland’s most experienced and accomplished actors. The director is the highly regarded Stephen Beggs, a recent recipient of a 2018 Arts & Business NI Award.
This revival has been generously funded by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; the Community Relations Council; The Executive Office through District Council Good Relations Programme supported by Ards & North Down District Council, Newry Mourne & Down District Council, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, Mid Ulster District Council; Institute for Conflict Research.
Every performance is followed by a professionally facilitated post-show discussion, focusing on issues raised by the play.
1 & 2 February 2019 - The MAC, Belfast
BREXIT: A TRAGICOMEDY
Scurvy knaves, blinking idiots and spotted pigs ...
Shakespeare had his finger on the pulse of the nation centuries ago. Using texts from some of his most rousing speeches, with interruptions from other notable writers, politicians, philosophers and poets, this Brexit-inspired rant was previewed at Culture Night Belfast in September 2017. Performed by Thomas Finnegan (recently nominated for Best Actor in the Irish Times Theatre Awards) in the outdoor space of Warehouse Lane, passers-by and innocent bystanders paused to laugh, cheer, jeer and heckle - depending on their viewpoint.
The piece was revived for the 2018 Imagine Festival of Ideas and Politics in March. It was performed with great gusto by Queen’s University drama graduates Patrick Quinn and David Willis in the Crescent Arts Centre and the Public Pulpit in St. Anne’s Cathedral Car Park respectively.
Now there are plans to take it to the Paris Fringe in October 2018.
Two interlocking Beckett-inspire monologues combine to form Both Sides.
Me Here, Me - performed by Hannah Coyle
In the first, a young woman sits in a Paris cafe, watching the life of the street unfold. Everyday incidents seem commonplace until viewed through the prism of Beckett’s vision, at which troubling back stories emerge. The young woman has a hidden history too. In a flash of realisation, she fears that it may soon be revealed.
In the second, an older woman props up a bar in the old town of Nice. Originally from Belfast, she has lived in the city for many years. She observes the customers around her, while reflecting on her own turbulent life and a personal loss, which on this particular day, is too painful to bear. The spirit of Beckett looms large in her thoughts.
Stella and Estelle. Who are these woman? What is the connection between them?
Premiere: The Dark Horse, Belfast on 7 May 2017 for the 18th Cathedral Quarter Festival
Paris Fringe - Le Kibele, Rue de l’Echiquier, Paris 10 - 21 and 27 May 2017
Touring to: Old Courthouse, Antrim (6 September), Seamus Heaney HomePlace (7 September), Duncairn Centre, Belfast (8 September), Down County Museum, Downpatrick (9 September)
John O’Connor Writing School & Literary Arts Festival, Armagh - 4 November 2017
Supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
Sponsored by John J Rice & Co Solicitors and Lighthouse Communications
ME HERE, ME
Performer: Hannah Coyle
First reading: 30 March 2016
First performance: 28 April 2016
A monologue inspired by the writings of Samuel Beckett and by the time the writer and performer have spent in Paris over the years.
A young woman sits alone at a café in Paris. She watches the life of the street unfolding. It seems as though everybody has a story. She has a story too. Is it about to be revealed? Who will write it?
The writer is currently writing Before Before, a companion monologue to Me Here, Me. It will be performed by Libby Smyth.
Together they will form an intriguing double-header entitled Both Sides.
Me Here, Me was first presented by our sister company Spring Lane Productions.
Both Sides will be produced by Powerstone.
Sponsored by John J Rice & Co Solicitors and Lighthouse Communications
World premiere - 12 to 14 October 2015
Venue: Belfast Synagogue during the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival.
Co-produced by our sister company Spring Lane Productions and Chatterbox Productions, in association with the Institute for Conflict Research and Jews Schmooze
In Vienna, a young dancer dreams of her future. In Belfast, an elderly man revisits his painful past. A bereaved mother and daughter unearth a suppressed family history, long hidden in their Belfast home. The play recalls a young love affair which burned brightly during the darkest of times in Europe.
The storyline was inspired by a small leather suitcase exhibited in the Jewish Museum in Vienna.
Director: Eilise McNicholas
Cast: Rosie Barry, Hannah Coyle, Mary Moulds, Sean O’Hare
Supported by Belfast City Council
The play was revived as Belfast City Council’s flagship event for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016 and performed in Belfast City Hall. Extracts from it were performed at the Northern Ireland regional commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day, supported by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
THE LANTERN MAN
World premiere tour - 9 to 24 September 2016
All performances were accompanied by post-show discussions in a major community and outreach project.
Presented by Powerstone in association with the Institute for Conflict Research.
The storyline is set in Dublin in the months leading up to the Easter Rising.
Wounded in body and spirit, Johnny McGrath returns from active service on the Western Front to a city he barely recognises. He discovers that he has inherited hundreds of glass lantern slides showing images of soldiers in action. He decides to put them on show, to tell the public the real story of the war. In the process, he brings together two women from very different social backgrounds, united by a single tragic event that unfolded in the heat of battle. As tension mounts on the streets, Johnny comes to realise that there is more to the photographs than meets the eye and that secrets can be hard to keep.
This drama of hidden history and conflicting loyalty was inspired by the real life discovery of a collection of World War I lantern slides in a Belfast church. It has been curated as the Castleton Lanterns.
Director: Stephen Beggs
Cast: Cathy Brennan-Bradley, Hannah Coyle, James Doran, Julie Kinsella, Noel McGee, Libby Smyth, Shane Whisker
Sponsored by: Lighthouse Communications and John J Rice & Co. Solicitors
Funders: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Reconciliation Fund; Northern Ireland Community Relations Council; Arts & Business NI; the Good Relations Programmes of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council and Newry, Mourne & Down District Council, which receive funding from the Executive Office of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Tour venues: Duncairn Arts Centre, Belfast; Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry; Old Courthouse, Antrim; Market Place Theatre, Armagh; Playhouse Theatre, Derry; Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick; Riverside Theatre, Coleraine; Island Arts Centre, Lisburn