Stories of Hurt and Hope

The Cast of "Now Hear This - Stories of Faith"
The have been a number of typos in the printed programme of the 4 Corners Festival this year... we on the organising committee didn't do a very good job of proof reading this time out.

One of those resulted in last night's production "Now Hear This - Stories of Faith" by Play it By Ear Theatre Company being listed as taking place in the same venue as the previous night's "Those you Pass in the Street" by Kabosh Theatre Company, over in the Agape Centre on the Lisburn Road, rather than its actual venue in An Culturlann on the Falls Road. For this reason we had staff at the Agape primed to re-direct those who had ended up at the wrong venue, and we took the decision to go up 15 minutes later to allow for stragglers. There were a few, but not many, and we had a reasonable house, though not quite as many as the previous night.
Panel discussion after "Those You Pass in the Street"

Afterwards one of those who had come via the Agape Centre came to me slightly bemused, because whilst they had gone to the other venue first they had actually gotten their days mixed up and had gone there expecting to see the Kabosh production, a hard hitting political drama about an encounter between an RUC widow and a Sinn Fein activist whose brother had been killed by the IRA as an informer... instead they ended up watching a series of Bible-based sketches devised and performed by young adults... I didn't get a chance to talk to them about what they had seen and expected to see as I was doing something else at the time... but they walked away shaking their heads...

And I can understand why... because whilst both were dramas... they were very different in form, content, aim, emotional intensity and in just about every other way... Except that both were in their own way, very good... But they seemed to inhabit completely different worlds... Last night's a world informed by, indeed almost defined by the Bible and an individual's relationship with God... And the former one where God was barely mentioned, except as an expletive... but where lives were defined by the political struggle here...

I perhaps would have been interested to explore how each might inform and impact the other more... But maybe that is the place for a future dramatic dimension to the festival, because part of the point of the 4 Corners Festival is about encouraging people out of their physical, theological, political and psychological comfort zones, encountering different people and different ideas. I hope that these two events have helped to do that in various ways... There certainly where people from all over the city and beyond there last night, many of whom would never have been in An Culturlann before, not even in its former guise as Falls Road Presbyterian Church many years ago...

And actually it only dawned on me as I was starting to write this that actually in some ways the two productions had almost entirely swapped places... as I originally say the Kabosh production in An Culturlann and Play it by Ear regularly rehearse and perform in the Agape Centre.

But the Festival is not just about swapping venues and taking your usual audience with you, but getting new people to new places and to see and hear new things. That is our small contribution to addressing the hurts of the past and trying to create a culture or context of hope.



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