Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 31 January 2015

Author Jennifer Johnston's warning on theatre being 'for the few'

Award-winning Northern Ireland author Jennifer Johnston has warned that theatres are increasingly viewed as being "for the few".

And she has urged young people in particular to give going to the theatre a chance.

Her comments came as an investigation by the Assembly's arts and culture committee into claiming that theatres are 'no-go' areas for the working class, particularly in the Protestant community, continues.

"I think today, theatre is looked on as something for the few when back in the Middle Ages theatre was for the people in the street," said the author, who lives in Londonderry.

She was speaking ahead of the opening of the stage adaptation of her bestselling novel, How Many Miles to Babylon?, at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast this week.

And she revealed she intends taking her own teenage grandchildren to watch the production of the drama which is set in the First World War.

"I think it is very important young people go to the theatre," she said. "Not nearly enough children go to the theatre. It is an amazing experience and once you get a taste for it you want to keep going."

The story is being staged to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war in 1914 and tells the story of two young Irish boys who end up fighting in the trenches.

"I'm delighted to see the story is being revived," Mrs Johnston added. "I'm looking forward to seeing it at the Lyric. I'll be taking my two grandsons who are 15 and 17 so I'll be interested to see what they think of it."

How Many Miles to Babylon is running at the Lyric until May 24.

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