I AM OF IRELAND is an exciting new play by one of Ireland’s most perceptive writers, Seamus Finnegan (Act of Union, Soldiers, North). Directed by Ken McClymont, the play examines the state of a divided nation and Ireland’s increasingly important role in Europe.
For some in Ireland, immigration and the border between the North and South have replaced sectarianism as central issues needing discussion. As a result, aggressive, passionate personalities may intrude on those who want only calm, peace and generosity. I AM OF IRELAND strives to remind us that there is still compassion and understanding in Ireland.
We spoke to Ken McClymont to find out more.
I AM OF IRELAND is at The Old Red Lion Theatre 5th – 30th June 2018.
You’re directing I AM OF IRELAND at The Old Red Lion, what can you tell us about it?
It is a play primarily concerning contemporary issues in Ireland. What has happened since the ‘troubles’? The ‘peace’ agreement, and asking how is the Catholic church perceived now, have people changed their opinions, values, beliefs? Is the current situation the Country and individuals find themselves in better or worse than before?
How did you get involved in the project?
The first play I directed was about a second-generation Irish family in Glasgow, I met Seamus Finnegan and we’ve been friends and working together since then. I read all of Seamus’s work. He’s an artist and writing is his chosen medium. He is extremely appreciative of what we try to achieve so when the chance of working with him again arose I gratefully thought about it for a second or two.
How would you describe Seamus Finnegan’s writing?
Seamus’s writing is poetic, funny, brutal, exciting and always thought-provoking which is why I enjoy working on his plays. For me, the characters he draws are all significant within the context of the play and for some, outside the play. In all his work he subtly asks us to look at ourselves and question what we think, how we behave and most importantly ‘why’? His writing has an original sensitive style of fusing the personal, the private and the public.
You’re not Irish yourself, does that make it easier or more difficult to direct an Irish play?
I wouldn’t say it is easier or more difficult. Most plays I choose to direct are difficult. The cast and I enjoy the hard work and challenge of trying to present what the writer has intended. I enjoy working on new plays with interesting actors, designers, and writers. I think creativity has very few borders or locations. With the writer in rehearsal, that period is always an education and at times, funny, incredibly shocking and poignant.
Do you think current events will affect people’s audiences perceptions of the play, or was that the intent?
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the current situation affects perceptions, however, I know that was never the ‘intent’. As an artist, Seamus would never be drawn into writing about ‘events’ as he’s much more intent on writing about the consequences and effects on the personal individuals he chooses to portray. Psychologically, it’s much more interesting for the cast and me to investigate those stories within a historical context which might be Ireland but they could be in many countries in the past and now.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see I AM OF IRELAND?
Whether you have an interest in contemporary Ireland or not the play is interesting on so many levels. We have a fantastically talented, devoted cast and crew who will take you to places possibly you never imagined you would be. The play will surely cause debate, however, isn’t that what drama should be doing?