The concept for this community play has its origins dating back over a year to the formation of a small writers group that met once a week in the Spectrum Centre on the Shankill Road. From those who had never previously written–under the expert tutelage of Jo Egan–grew the seeds of creativity that eventually matured as a two hour production with a cast of thirty people. It is a testament to all those involved that those of us who have been lucky enough to have seen it are lavishing it with praise. The hours of dedication–of sacrifice-and endeavour have paid off big style and much credit is due to all participants.
The scope of the production is huge. Crimea Square is a “fictional” street in the heart of the Shankill Road. Through the eyes of three seperate families we trace our roots in history and learn of the social aspwcts of every day life–often set against the turbulent upheaval of not only local discord, but often global conflict. Telling the sometimes mundane history of the families juxtaposed with the bigger events is expertly achieved and always more than interesting. Apart from the three set stage there are two huge screens that serve as information boards/advertising hoardings/storyboards. Used in conjunction with the action it provides a fascinating insight into parocial and worldwide events over the course of 100 years in the Shankill community.
All major occurrences during this time are referred to. Beginning with the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in opposition to the proposed Home Rule Bill in 1912-up until the present regeneration process–we follow the fortunes–and otherwise–of the families through both Wars–the Hungry Thirties–The Coronation of 1953–The Swinging Sixties, which of course culminated in the events that changed all their lives–”The Troubles”. The majority of the cast are community actors–at best–and total novices who pull it off in remarkable style. The professionals are accomplished–Marty Maguire, Marie Jones, Jo Donnelly and Matthew McIlhenny all add a proficient edge.
Jo Egan deserves a huge amount of credit in bringing Crimea Square to the stage. It has been a long and at times painstaking struggle to get this far. At a time when there are criticisms of the PUL commnunity abstaining from being involved in the Arts –and in particular drama–it is wonderful to see a community buying into it on such a scale. The importnat thing now is that it gives these individuals –and groups–the impetus to go further–to pursue writing creatively–to embark upon drama classes–and to prove that this project is not in isolation.
Crimea Square continues its run in the Spectrum centre on Thursday 24th October and runs until 2nd November.
17-20, 24-27, 31 October and 1, 2 November
£10, £8 concessions, group reductions available.
Call 07873 425873 or visit The Spectrum Centre