A NEW play taking a grassroots look at the controversial mining method known as Fracking is set to hit stages in Northern Ireland during April 2016.
The play, This Land by Siân Owen, is a co-production by Pentabus Theatre Company and Salisbury Playhouse, and will tour four venues across the north from April 6-9.
Starring Rosie Armstrong (left) and Harry Long as young couple Bea and Joseph, the play looks at how one family is directly impacted when a fracking company threatens to set up a drilling site close to their home.
“Pentabus Theatre Company asked me to specifically write a play about Fracking. They make plays about things that are relevant to people living in rural areas. The hunt for energy in all its forms affects people in rural areas much more than urban ones because the mechanics of it all are currently happening on their doorsteps – the wind farms, the solar fields and the fracking sites. I also grew up in South Wales so the realities of our search for power and energy on people and communities already had a huge realness and resonance for me.
“Many of us are just starting to learn more about Fracking, yet I was really conscious that we would be touring to communities where Fracking is already a reality and I know it is a very divisive and complex issue. So I hope that, to those who don’t know anything about Fracking, This Land is a way to begin to understand the issues involved. To those who know all about it, I hope the play shines a new light on the complexities of it all. I would like audiences to come away from the play having been taken on a journey that entertained and made them laugh and cry. I hope the play surprises and sparks lots of open conversations about the plans to get our energy, because we all need to be talking much more about this,” playwright Owen told this blogger.
With themes of history, family, relationships and the environment, this “thought-provoking, clever and funny” play examines how where we live and what we live on can have a profound impact on shaping our characters and communities.
Owen’s topic is timely for audiences in Ireland, with cross-border campaigns still waging to prevent multi-national companies using Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, to drill for shale gas in Leitrim, Cavan and south Fermanagh.
Companies’ interest is focusing on a shale rich area known as the northwest carboniferous basin, which touches all three counties. Supporters argue that shale gas drilling could bring jobs and much-needed cash to the North-West, but opponents say the threat to agriculture, groundwater supplies, tourism and health outweigh any perceived benefits.
The anti-Fracking campaign has become one of the largest cross-border community-centred efforts ever seen in Ireland, attracting interest from around the world.
“Pentabus Theatre Company specialises in presenting stories about issues affecting the rural world and taking this work to places where it has a real resonance.
The aim of This Land is to look at the realities of our search for power and energy through the very human story of Bea and Joseph. This is our first visit to Northern Ireland and we are very much looking forward to sharing the production with audiences there,” says director Jo Newman.
This Land is set to play at the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine on April 6; The Strule Arts Centre in Omagh on April 7; Derry’s Waterside Theatre on April 8, before finishing its Northern Ireland tour at the MAC in Belfast on April 9.
Booking information for all tour dates can be found at www.pentabus.co.uk/thisland.