Belfast Telegraph

Welcome home for playwright Christina Reid's tragicomedy Joyriders

By Christine Carrigan

Three decades after its first performance in London, one of the most poignant Belfast-set plays is to return home.

Apollo Community Arts will stage three performances of Joyriders in memory of playwright Christina Reid, who passed away in 2015.

The play is being produced as part of a three-week summer scheme and already the opening evening on August 10 has sold out.

Joyriders is a tragicomedy about working class life in west Belfast during the Troubles.

It explores the lives of four teenagers - Maureen, Sandra, Arthur and Tommy - who are involved in a youth training programme, and social worker Kate, who is in charge.

It focuses on the teens, who are living in a volatile environment, and how they build and nurture relationships with one another against the backdrop of 1980s Belfast.

It will be the first time that one of Reid's plays has been performed since her death two years ago.

Directed by Robin Elliott and Pauline Carville, Joyriders features a number of up and coming local actors including Cliodhna Fisher as Maureen, Carly McCullough as Sandra, Matthew Sharpe as Tommy, Sinead Cross as Kate and Nathan Donoaghy as Arthur.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, the cast expressed their excitement about the project.

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The late playwright Christina Reid

Matthew (23), who plays a 17-year-old, said: "Our performance of Blood Brothers sold out last year, and that is the level that I expected for this play, it is great."

Cliodhna (24), who plays a 16-year-old, said: "I love acting and I live in Divis at the minute, and when I read the play it was similar to today and the character was similar to who I was."

Christina Reid was born in Ardoyne in north Belfast in 1942 to docker James Orchin and wife Christina, who worked in the linen mills.

Educated at Belfast Model School for Girls, she was familiar with working class life in Belfast. She left education at 15 to make money working in various jobs. She then began submitting short stories to the BBC in the 1970s.

By her mid-30s she had returned to education, studying English at Queen's University in Belfast.

Her play Did You Hear The One About The Irishman? won the Ulster Television Drama Award in 1980.

While at Queen's she came to the attention of the Lyric Theatre, and later became writer in residence for the 1983-84 season.

Joyriders was inspired by her visit to the Divis Community Centre in Belfast in the 1980s.

She met with a group of women who wrote and performed songs about their lives. The songs were incorporated into the play, which opened in the Tricycle Theatre in London in 1986.

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Matthew Sharpe

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph about why Apollo Arts decided to revive the work, director Elliott said: "Christina Reid passed away two years ago in 2015 and none of her work has been done since.

"Even though she was a well-known playwright from Belfast, none of her work has been widely performed here."

Commenting on why Joyriders was chosen from the playwright's many works based in Northern Ireland, Mr Elliott said: "It is a play that I have always enjoyed and my wife Pauline, who is directing it with me, it is one of her favourite plays as well and (she) has always wanted to do it, and with Pauline coming from west Belfast, we wanted to do a west Belfast Show."

l Joyriders will be performed at An Culturlann on August 10, 11 and 12 at 8pm. Tickets are available from An Culturlann, by calling Apollo Community Arts on 028 9543 4474, or online at www.apolloarts.co.uk

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