Belfast Telegraph

Stage drama set to focus on life in a loyalist flute band

By Brendan McDaid

A drama production aimed at demystifying loyalist bands is to be staged in Londonderry.

The Pride looks at life behind the uniform of a Northern Irish flute band, and will run for two nights at the Waterside Theatre in Derry on July 3 and 4.

The play by Blue Eagle Productions aims to educate people about the motivation and impact that a band has on a local community in Northern Ireland.

It also claims to offer “for the first time on stage”, an accurate and sincere interpretation of the life of a loyalist flute band. The production has been specially commissioned by The Pride of the Orange & Blue Flute Band from the Newbuildings area the city.

The Pride tells the story of the highs and lows, the comradeship and the tensions, the tears and laughter of life as a bandsman.

The play centres on founding member Robbie, who lives for the band, and his best friend Davie. Amanda is the proud mother of Robbie's two sons who have followed their father into the band and the household is completed with Dessie, Robbie's grumpy father-in-law, who thinks the band is a waste of time.

It's coming close to the start of the marching season and the house is busy as plans are made for them to travel to the May Rally in Glasgow, as well as planning to celebrate their 25th anniversary.

The Pride was originally commissioned in 2010 as a means of creating positive debate and engagement across communities in Northern Ireland.

The project has been resurrected for UK City of Culture 2013 and is seeking to take this engagement to another level.

Aside from staging the play again, facilitated workshops based on scenes from the play will be staged in places where the loyalist band tradition could be seen as being most divisive.

These will be hosted by the play's writer Jonathan Burgess and a local peace and reconciliation facilitator.

Story so far

There are currently more than 700 flute bands in Northern Ireland with a combined membership of approximately 30,000 people. This makes band membership the largest cultural activity in Northern Ireland. Despite this, band members have raised concerns that the rationale and voice behind band membership remains largely unheard and unexplored.

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