Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

'Punk Rock' playwright Simon Stephens tells of his Belfast pride

Rehearsals began at the Lyric Theatre this week for the Irish premiere of Punk Rock by the award-winning playwright, Simon Stephens.

Stephens – whose mother is from Belfast and grandmother from Sunnyside Street, just beside the Lyric – said he is “thrilled” to have the first professional production of one of his plays opening in the city and starring an up and coming Belfast actor.

“It means the world to me that Punk Rock is opening in Belfast,” he said.

“My Mum was born in Belfast. My grandma was born into a family of seven girls on Sunnyside Street. My great-grandfather worked as a carpenter on the Titanic.

“My granddad, his English son-in-law got a job at Methodist School. In many ways this feels like a homecoming to a hometown I've never been to before.

“It’s been produced in four different continents and all over Europe now. It is thrilling that it will open down the street from my grandma’s house,” he said.

 Stephens - who adapted the best-seller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for the stage - plans to attend one of the performances and take part in a post-show discussion in September.

The play is an “intense and powerful” piece of theatre about the complex lives of a clique of sixth-formers from a fee-paying school preparing for their mock A-Level exams, says the Lyric. The show has a thumping soundtrack ranging from The White Stripes to Sonic Youth.

It stars seven young actors, three of whom –  Belfast actor Rhys Dunlop, Lauren Coe and Rory Corcoran – have just graduated from The Lir Academy in Dublin.

Rhys said: “I could not be happier doing my first show after The Lir in the Lyric. Not only does it mean that I get to work at home but also at one of the most exciting theatres in the country.”

Celebrated director Selina Cartmell, who is making her directorial debut at the Lyric, said: “Punk Rock has a raw and explosive energy that plugs directly and honestly into the hearts and minds of a group of sixth-formers preparing for their mock A-levels.“

Punk Rock runs on the Lyric's Danske Bank Stage from 14 August to 6 September 2014, Tues to Sat 7.45pm, and weekend matinees at 2.30pm (Previews Sun 10 Aug 2.30pm, Tues 12 and Wed 13 Aug 7.45pm). Tickets from £10 to £24.50. Note: strong language and some violent scenes.

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