Belfast Telegraph

Outdoor spectacle on city's river

Hundreds of budding singers, dancers and actors have been urged to join the cast for one of the biggest events of Londonderry's year as UK City of Culture.

The Return of Colmcille - a massive outdoor spectacle written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce who penned last year's lauded Olympics opening ceremony - will take place on the banks of the River Foyle in June.

The history of Derry is closely linked to the story of Colmcille - a warrior monk sometimes called St Columba - who set up his first monastery in the city but left in 563AD to live on the Scottish island of Iona.

Organisers hope Derry locals as well as those from further afield can help bring the story to life.

"Colmcille is a colossal figure, a monastic superhero," said Mr Cottrell-Boyce. "The Return of Colmcille will celebrate his story and the wider history of the city. We want the people of the city to take ownership of this event. There is a role for everyone whether it's as a performer, an artist or in a stewarding capacity. It's going to be an amazing event."

Mr Cottrell-Boyce and the Walk the Plank production company aim to incorporate the tale of St Columba with other stories that have emerged from Derry over the past 1,500 years. Recruiting and rehearsing for what is being billed as an epic river pageant will take place at various locations across the city over the next few weeks.

Culture Company chief executive Shona McCarthy said it promised to be one of the highlights of the year. She said: "The Return of Colmcille will be one of the most iconic events to take place in the city during the UK City of Culture Celebrations in 2013 and it's a great opportunity for local people to become directly involved in our programme.

"The plans that Walk the Plank and Frank Cottrell-Boyce have in place to celebrate the return of the city's patron saint are amazing, and all those who take part will treasure the memory of their involvement for years to come."

Derry, which saw some of the worst violence from Northern Ireland's troubled past, fought off competition from Norwich, Birmingham and Sheffield to take the inaugural City of Culture mantle.

Mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell said: "The Return of Colmcille promises to be one of the most spectacular and memorable events of the year and I am delighted that the call is going out for local people to be part of the celebrations."


From Belfast Telegraph