The Sole Purpose 21 Years
Festival of Theatre for Social Change
was a great success!
The festival kicked off with the Exhibition Launch of the past 21 years of work from Sole Purpose, a fascinating journey through our history. Here is a taste of it wonderfully put together by Gav Connolly.
There were brilliant performances from Richard Galloway in The Life and Soul from Red Ladder Theatre Company, directed by Rod Dixon. The play was performed in The Derry Playhouse on 22nd February and community venues across the city including the Cathedral Youth Club in the Fountain, Pilots Row Community Centre in the Bogside, Studio 2 in Galliagh and The Glen Bar.
Aoibh Johnson gave a powerful performance of Every Move You Make written and directed by Patricia Byrne. The performance was followed by a Q+A with Fiona Crossan from NSPCC and John O'Hagan from Foyle Women's Aid.
We had the Sole Purpose Rehearsed Readings event on 23rd February looking back over our 21 years, which included actors reading excerpts from past Sole Purpose plays with input from artists, academics and partner organisations that we have worked with over the years. This was a wonderful event which showcased an amazing body of work.
On the 24th February there was a very moving performance by Smashing Times Theatre Company of The Woman is Present: Women's Stories of WWII.
This was followed by a panel debate on the future of Theatre for Social Change chaired by Dave Duggan (Co-founder and Co-Artistic Director of Sole Purpose 1997 - 2008), the panel members were Sarah Thornton (Artistic Director of Collective Encounters), Patricia Byrne (Artistic Director of Sole Purpose), Mary Moynihan (Artistic Director of Smashing Times), Niamh Flanagan (Theatre NI) and Rod Dixon (Artistic Director of Red Ladder). It was a lively debate with many ideas for the future of theatre with a social purpose.
There were two brilliant workshops - A Masterclass in Theatre for Social Change facilitated by Sarah Thornton (Collective Encounters) and a Sole Purpose Theatre Lab with guest director Rod Dixon (Red Ladder).
We would like to say a huge thank you to all the visiting companies, the artists who took part in the Theatre Lab and the Rehearsed Readings, all our partner organisations who attended events, our wonderful Board of Directors and the audiences who came and supported us.
Also a warm thank you to our funders who have supported our work over the years and who supported the festival - the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Derry City and Strabane District Council, and thank you to Niamh Flanagan and Theatre NI for their support.
It was a wonderful way to celebrate our 21 years
and we will remember it for a long time!
"Sole Purpose Productions has earned an almost peerless reputation in Northern Ireland over the last 21 years for producing dynamic and challenging theatre that is unafraid to confront the most challenging issues of our times. Domestic violence, abuse of the elderly, addiction, human trafficking, gender politics, mental health - all heavyweight material that has been tackled with the deftest of touches. Theirs is the kind of art that helps us to understand the world around us, asks us to walk in another person’s shoes, compels us to confront our prejudices and preconceptions. This is theatre with a strong sense of social responsibility, which resonates beyond mainstream theatre audiences to the heart of the local community. As principal funder for the past two decades, the Arts Council is proud to be associated with Sole Purpose’s achievement and we welcome this opportunity to join them in celebrating 21 years of creating high-quality, socially-engaged, professional theatre."
Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland