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Theatre appeals for personal items relating to victims of Troubles

They will be placed on empty seats at Londonderry’s Playhouse Theatre during a post-lockdown production.

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The cast of Anything Can Happen: 1972 (PlayhouseTheatre/PA)

The cast of Anything Can Happen: 1972 (PlayhouseTheatre/PA)

The cast of Anything Can Happen: 1972 (PlayhouseTheatre/PA)

A theatre has made an appeal for items with a connection to a loved ones killed in Northern Ireland’s troubled past.

The Playhouse in Londonderry has made the request to the public ahead of one of the first productions it will stage following lockdown.

Theatres in Northern Ireland have been allowed to reopen to allow staff to prepare ahead of September 1, when audiences will be allowed to return.

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The Playhouse Theatre in Londonderry. (Playhouse Theatre/PA)

The Playhouse Theatre in Londonderry. (Playhouse Theatre/PA)

The Playhouse Theatre in Londonderry. (Playhouse Theatre/PA)

However with the size of audiences limited by the requirement to social distance, the Playhouse intends to go digital and share productions with a global online audience.

It will stage a new production, Anything Can Happen: 1972, focusing on the worst year of the Troubles.

That year saw almost 500 killings, 10,000 shootings, 2,000 explosions and almost 5,000 people physically injured.

Poet Damian Gorman wrote Anything Can Happen, which includes untold stories from people affected by or involved in the events of that year.

With an audience of just 20 to 30 people able to watch the new production, the Playhouse has issued an appeal for the public to contribute significant items that connect them to loved ones who were killed in the Troubles or the pandemic, to be placed on the empty chairs of the theatre.

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Poet Damian Gorman

Poet Damian Gorman

Poet Damian Gorman

These can be objects or photographs of significance or importance to them, to be placed on the 130 empty chairs in the theatre.

In a statement the Playhouse said the empty chairs will be lit by theatre lights in an act echoing Seamus Heaney’s famous work Mossbawn: Two Poems In Dedication, in which he describes “a sunlit absence”.

Gorman said: “The empty chair is a very powerful symbol of loss and grief. Somebody defined grief to me as ‘love which has nowhere to go’.

“Rather than having all these empty chairs that would be housing absence, we would be housing something of significance.

“If all of that makes sense to you, please get in touch with us here at the Playhouse.”

From next month, The Playhouse will begin a programme of live performances inside the theatre that will also be broadcast live online, across the world via its newly installed live broadcasting infrastructure.

The new season will begin on August 28 with Proud To Be, an innovative new play created in lockdown by the poet and performer Mel Bradley and director Kieran Smyth. Proud To Be explores the diverse experiences of the LGBTQ+ community.

PA