On St Patrick’s Day…

St Patrick’s Day always used to be a big occasion for me in the past, especially the St Patrick’s Day Parade through the centre of Birmingham, where I grew up. For years after the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, the Irish Day parade didn’t occur – there was a sense of shame and an often antagonistic and difficult relationship between the city and its Irish inhabiatants. Once the parades began again, in 2000 I was commissioned to write a play for the Birmingham Rep’ about this most complex of dynamics between the English West Midlands and the immigrants who built it. ‘Belonging’ explored identity politics in a multicultural city, where ‘home’ is invariably elsewhere.

I’m delighted that another play of mine manages to be part of an unofficial celebration of Irishness in Chicago this evening. ‘The Almond and the Seahorse’ will be at Victory Gardens at 7.30pm tonight as part of The International Voices Project, directed by Sandy Shinner, with an after show discussion chaired by John Green.  http://www.ivpchicago.org/

I wish I was there, but the miracles of technology will hopefully enable me to hear the discussion – rather as technology allowed my dear friend Sarah ‘California’ Hill advise the actors on the pronunciation of the Welsh phrases in the play. Sarah is from California (hence the nickname), and lives in Wales in a phenomenally creative bilingual household, which I also call (one of my) ‘home'(s). I loved the fact my American friend based in Cardiff was advising actors in America on how to speak Cymraeg in a play written in Wales by a Birmingham-Irish playwright…

Issues of nationality and division and where we may belong, and where – of perhaps many places – we call ‘home’ has never been so insignificant to me this March 17th…

2 responses to “On St Patrick’s Day…

  1. You’re having your own little cultural revolution there. I remember about 40 years ago being in Manchester one Easter to visit cousins, when my youth worker uncle complained they didn’t have someone to pay Longinus in a BBC Radio Manchester radio play.I was going along to watch.
    At the last moment I was roped in and had to alternate between trays of gravel and screwed up magnetic tape.I was the only Mancunian based, Roman Soldier living in Judea with a Welsh accent possible. I was in my twenties and dreading anyone hearing it.
    Best of luck with the play. xx

  2. What a terrific story! And thanks so much for engaging.
    Have had a few emails this morning that are very positive about the play. Rather as in its first production with Sherman Cymru in Cardiff, I’m told in the after show discussion lots of people wanted to speak about their own experiences or ways they connected to the central themes of the play (to do with memory loss and Traumatic Brain Injury). Thanks so much for your kind words. x

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