Sole Purpose Annual Report 2018/19

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Sole Purpose Productions is a multi award winning theatre company that exists to use imagination to investigate and illuminate social and public issues. We aim to produce new innovative theatre that contributes to social change, explores the dynamics of human relationships and promotes good relations. We bring art to the heart of the social, economic and creative life of communities locally, nationally and internationally.

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Chairperson’s Overview This year Sole Purpose Productions built on the success of its first 21 years, following the Festival of Theatre for Social Change in 2018 with a series of special events. As we moved into 2019 the company continued to make multi award winning theatre. What an achievement that is in the midst of austerity and ever increasing challenges for arts organisations, and what a tribute it is to the hard work and dedication of our Artistic Director, Patricia Byrne. We welcomed a new Board member, John McQuaide. He is the Co-ordinator of the Social Care Programme at North West Regional College, he has multi-sectoral knowledge of education, health, social care, justice and local government, and has a keen interest in the arts as a tool for social change. His knowledge and experience is a valuable asset to our team. Sole Purpose continued to develop work with the Syrian community culminating in an amazing Arabic arts and culture day in Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin: Sadaakah – Cairdeas – Friendship Day.

This was a whole day of workshops in Arabic language, dance, discussion, performances and mouth-watering food! The Arabic BBQ on the beautiful rooftop terrace will be an event I will always remember! As one of our events to mark 21 years of Sole Purpose we published a series of plays by Patricia Byrne entitled, Plays for Social Impact, consisting of four plays which have toured extensively since 2004 – Don’t Say A Word, Every Move You Make, See No Evil and A Wee Taste. This was a great way to mark the success of our plays on social issues affecting local and national communities. Each publication includes a workshop which teachers, youth leaders, social workers can use with groups. We have received orders from as far as Japan and the USA! Importantly, this also helps to disseminate the work more widely, and make it possible for other theatre companies to apply for performance rights. In September 2018 we produced a rehearsed reading of Waiting…. By Dave Duggan to mark 20 years of the Good Friday Agreement and as another event to mark 21 years of Sole Purpose. It was an honour to work with our Co-Founder again, and to revisit one of the plays of the Peace Process Trilogy.

We continued to run Sole Purpose Theatre Labs for new and emerging writers, LGBT writers and writers with disabilities and/or a mental health condition. We staged a Rehearsed Reading of She Wants to be a What? by Berni Kerr in November 2018 for Transgender Day of Remembrance, which received brilliant feedback. The utmost highlight of the year was taking Blinkered by Patricia Byrne to New York as part of Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Festival in January 2019. Not only did we tour to four venues in New York we also won the Special Jury Prize! And were nominated for four other awards! A truly brilliant recognition and affirmation of the work. We are delighted that as a result of this production, Patricia has been awarded a residency to work in collaboration with Theatre Professor Kat Kavanagh at the City University of New York in 2020. This is supported by the Arts Council of NI Support for the Individual Artist Programme. Thank you to all our funders, partners, participants and audiences who continue to support our work. We couldn’t do it without you!

Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick, Chairperson


Patricia Byrne – Artistic Director and Co-Founder

Patricia is a producer, director and writer. She has written seven plays for the company including the most recent Blinkered which toured Ireland to great acclaim and won the Special Jury Prize at Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Festival in New York in 2019. She has produced and directed over ten productions by new and emerging writers which have toured extensively throughout Ireland and the UK, and have been staged in the USA. Patricia believes that making powerful theatre that deals with important issues can make the world a better place, one step at a time.

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Our Team Dale Robinson - Administrator Dale runs his own entertainments company and has extensive experience in company administration including business management, promotion, design, marketing, social media promotion, fundraising and finacial systems.

Ciara O’Connell - Vice Chair Ciara is a senior solicitor at the firm of Caldwell & Robinson. Ciara is tri-qualified to practice as a Solicitor throughout the UK and Ireland. She specialises in the areas of civil litigation, divorce and matrimonial disputes and private and public law family matters. Ciara takes a keen interest in local arts projects and in particular, projects using art as a vehicle for social change.

Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick - Chairperson Lisa is Senior Lecturer in Drama at Ulster University Magee, and a founding member of the Irish Society for Theatre Research. Her research focuses on violence in performance, women’s writing, and feminism in Ireland. Her current work is on the performance of rape on stage. She teaches Irish Theatre and North American Theatre.

Maureen McLaughlin - Treasurer Maureen is an industrial professional with over 20 years’ experience in manufacturing; most recently as Operations Director of Diamond Corrugated. Maureen has a wealth of experience in all aspects of running and managing successful organisations and has a strong sales and marketing focus. Maureen has recently gone back to study and is studying toward a degree in English Literature. She has a lifelong passion for the arts.

Jim Doherty – Secretary Jim has a background in ‘live’ arts and worked at the ICA in London for 12 years. He has worked with Foyle Pride and the Foyle Film Festival, and coordinated the political and historical programme for the Gasyard Feile until 2012.

John McQuaide - Board Member John is the Co-ordinator of the HNC Health and Social Care Programme at North West Regional College. He has 17 years Higher Education Teaching experience in this field and of serving on academic boards. He has multi-sectoral knowledge of education, health, social care, justice and local government. He has a keen interest in the arts as a tool for social change.


Sadaakah – Cairdeas – Friendship Day Sole Purpose Productions worked in partnership with Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin in July 2018 to deliver this amazing one day event. Syrian refugees and local residents mixed and shared arts and culture in a day full of Arabic language classes, dance workshops, discussions, performances and the most delicious food made by our Syrian neighbours. The coordinating team were Patricia Byrne, Peter O’Doherty, Eibhlin Ni Dhochartaigh, Asem Sweidan, Audrey Doherty and Steven Williamson. The Sadaakah – Cairdeas – Friendship Project provided a safe place where diverse communities felt safe to spend time together, to learn from each other and to laugh together. In the Arabic Language workshops Syrian refugees taught local people some basic Arabic language. In the Conversation Cafe event local English speaking volunteers sat with Syrian refugees in an informal setting and helped them to practice their English. This session was facilitated by Hilda Orr. This event worked very well and assisted different communities to become familiar with each other. The project contributed to cultural expression and understanding diversity by providing workshops in Dabke and Middle Eastern Dance. Local people and Syrian people took part in these workshops. The Middle Eastern Dance workshop was for women only, which allowed the space for the Syrian women to dance freely alongside local women who wanted to learn.

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Other events included the ‘What’s Happening Now?’ discussion which focused on the situation for Syrian refugees now after living in Derry for two years and the situation for refugees arriving recently in Donegal. The two speakers were Rami Zahra, a Syrian blogger and member of the National Union of Journalists and Fadl Mustapha, a Support Worker with the Donegal Refugee Resettlement Programme. This was a very good event which provoked a lot of interesting discussion. The sharing of food throughout the day was a great way to appreciate and share Arabic culture. An Culturlann has a magical Rooftop Terrace where we held the Rooftop Barbecue. Syrian families cooked for the barbecue using their own traditional spices for the meat, Arabic bread, and making beautiful traditional salads. And the sun was shining! In the evening there was a Middle Eastern Dance performance by Audrey Doherty and Arabic music from Mohamad Alaya and his Band. Mohamad Alaya was a professional singer in Syria before he had to leave with his family, and is now trying to spread music here from his native land. Sami Fodel plays his own authentic Arabic scale keyboard and Asem Sweidan plays a traditional Arabic drum. The performances were lively and entertaining, with many people spontaneously getting up to dance. The project was funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council Good Relations Programme.

“The Sadaakah Day event was a great success in terms of supporting the Syrian families to integrate with the local community. They participated and got involved in the activities and most of all they contributed. There were many aspects that are shared between all communities from food to music and dance. As an Arab we hold these aspects of our culture very close to our heart and we enjoy sharing them, we take great pride in preparing and sharing food as we take great pride in showing the true optimistic and happy nature of our culture and that comes with the sharing of food, music and dance. Thank you for organising the event. Well done and I hope they may continue.”.” Fadl Mustapha, Refugee Support Worker, Donegal


“There was a good atmosphere, lots of nice food, the talk was good and Syrian people were engaging with the locals. The hubble bubble (shisha) was a good idea, being passed around and shared. It was a feast of the senses!” ‘’I loved the whole experience. The talk made me realize how hard it is for the Syrian families to integrate. The food was amazing’’ “I enjoyed the music by the Band, the Middle Eastern Dance, and the impromptu Dabke dancing in the evening. Amazing fun!” Asem Sweidan

Mohamad Alaya

Sami Fodel

Rami Zahra

Sole Purpose Productions and Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin present

Audrey Doherty

Sole Purpose Productions is a professional theatre company that has been making theatre for social change for 21 years. It is core funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. An Gaeláras is Derry’s primary Irish language, arts and cultural organisation. Established in 1984, the organisation is now one of the most dynamic, innovative and award-winning Irish language organisations anywhere in the country, delivering a range of cultural initiatives. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible – Asem Sweidan, Audrey Doherty, Steven Williamson and Peter O’Doherty. This project is funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council Good Relations Programme.

For enquiries about the event please contact: Patricia Byrne Sole Purpose Productions 5-7 Artillery Street Derry Londonderry BT48 6RG

E: T: +44 (0) 28 7127 9918 Sole Purpose Productions @SolePurpose_

Design & Print Tel. 0792 7898 726

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The Women’s Centre Project In October 2018 Patricia Byrne worked with an ethnic minority group at The Women’s Centre in Derry, there were 14 women in the group which consisted of mainly Syrian women.

She facilitated four workshops using theatre to assist with learning English. The workshops included role plays for food shopping, clothes shopping, being at the airport and going for a

doctors appointment. This was a taster project to see how using theatre to learn language would work.

like to have had more time. Patricia will explore further avenues for developing this project.

The women said that the workshops were useful for them and fun; they would


Sole Purpose wins Award in New York! In January 2019 Sole Purpose took the highly acclaimed play Blinkered by Patricia Byrne to New York to take part in Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Festival. The festival is in its 11th year, it showcases new theatre from Ireland. Production companies have the opportunity to have their USA premier at this festival.

The play shows the devastating impact on the family. Each performance is followed by an interactive theatre discussion which explores the themes raised in the play. It was first produced in 2016 when it had a powerful impact on all who saw it. A national tour throughout Ireland in 2017 received critical acclaim.

There were seven performances in four venues across New York including: Irish American Society in Mineola, The Playroom Theatre in Times Square, the New York Irish Centre in Queens and the City College of New York in Harlem.

The play toured locally before going to New York. We took it to four schools and colleges in Derry and Limavady. We reached 750 young people, parents, teachers, social workers and theatre goers. There were counsellors and the Samaritans at every performance who were available if anyone wanted to talk to them. One of our counsellors did case studies of some young people who spoke to her after a performance. The case studies illustrate the social impact of the play and how the arts can be used to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

We worked in partnership with the New York Irish Centre, Solace House (a suicide prevention centre) and the New York City Department of Education to reach audiences. Blinkered tells the story of a young man, Ryan, who is going through a depression and having suicidal thoughts. 10 Sole Purpose Productions

Patricia Byrne worked with students in Seattle in 2017 using Blinkered as a focus for students to develop Scenes of Intervention which illustrated ways to talk about suicide. As part of the same trip she met with organisations in New York that might be interested in the play. It was through these connections that the 2019 tour in New York came about.

This tour brought our work to new international audiences. Some audience members came back a second time to see a performance and brought their friends and colleagues with them. Audiences spread the word and people came to see it on their recommendations, word spread as far as Philadelphia about the production.

Nominated Best Actress Gemma Walker-Farren

Nominated Best Actor Patrick McBrearty

“Blinkered is one of the most powerful shows I’ve seen. I wish every college student could have seen this production. The story had a profound impact on the entire audience. While this is an Irish play, this family is recognizable and relatable to all people—no matter where you are from or where you live. The story speaks to our humanity and is universal..” Kat Kavanagh, Theatre Professor at City University of New York


The play was nominated for 4 awards including: Best Actor (Patrick McBrearty), Best Actress (Gemma Walker-Farren), Best Design and Best Production. The company won the Special Jury Prize. At the same event Fionnula Flanagan, who was on Broadway in The Ferryman, was honoured with a Special Lifetime Achievement Award. New York audiences were introduced to the innovative post show interactive theatre discussion which is unique to Sole Purpose. Audiences were fascinated and moved by this aspect of the event. The play was performed by Patrick McBrearty, Gemma Walker Farren, Cathy Brennan Bradley and Marty Maguire; and directed by Shauna Kelpie with Lighting Design by Niall Cranney and Costume Design by Helen Quigley. Our Stage Manager was Codie Morrison and Set Manager was Noel Hamilton.

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We would like to express a special thank you to Jane McCarter O’Dowd, Director of Arts and Culture at New York Irish Centre, who worked tirelessly to make the tour possible; and thank you to John Duddy for production support. A huge thank you to Solace House, a suicide prevention organisation, who assisted with the post show discussions; New York City Department of Education for their support and Origin Theatre for inviting us. This is a great achievement and we are all absolutely delighted for the work to be recognised in this way. The tour in Northern Ireland was supported by the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland and sponsored by Diamond Corrugated. The New York tour was supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Professional Arts Abroad Programme and Culture Ireland.

“Watching Blinkered and the story unfolding brought me to tears. This production sheds light on something most people don’t talk about, for that I thank everyone involved. The interactive discussion afterwards wa s a blessing. Helped us to understand a little more of what this struggle looks like and ways to confront the individual with open arms, rather than judgement. Simply, Outstanding!” Brandon Eriq Vaughn Puryear, Actor/Poet/Comedian, New York 13

Waiting…. by Dave Duggan A Rehearsed Reading In September 2018 we revisited Waiting…. by Dave Duggan for Good Relations Week. This was an event to mark 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement and was one of the events to mark 21years of Sole Purpose Productions. Dave Duggan is a Co-Founder and was a Co-Artistic Director of Sole Purpose from 1997 to 2008. It was an honour to be working again with Dave on this significant play. We did a Rehearsed Reading of the play in The Junction on Bishop Street in Derry Londonderry. It was performed by Sorcha Shanahan and John Mulkeen and was followed by an ‘In Conversation with Dave Duggan’ event convened by Patricia Byrne.

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Waiting…. was written and directed by Dave Duggan for Sole Purpose Productions in 2000 to explore the issue of political ex-prisoners and victims and the theme of ‘moving on’. It is one play in the Peace Process Trilogy, the others being The Shopper and The Boy and Without the Walls. The production toured across Ireland for seven years and was performed by Patricia Byrne and Jonathan Burgess. It was staged in the Writing on the Wall Festival in Liverpool, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in New York. The play examines how do people who have been victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland, either through the loss of loved ones or through serving lengthy prison sentences, ‘move on’?

Waiting‌. brings two such people together through the medium of theatre. The characters explore their pasts and the possibilities for their future. The theatrical context provides a safe structure to explore the legacy of the conflict. The Rehearsed Reading and discussion in September 2018 explored the legacy of the conflict 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement and considered the issues for political ex-prisoners and victims then and now. This event was supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council Good Relations Programme.

Waiting‌. April 2000 15

Plays for Social Impact A major development in 2018 was that Sole Purpose moved into publishing. We published four plays by Patricia Byrne that have been touring since 2004. The plays are: Don’t Say A Word - a play on domestic violence; See No Evil - a portrayal of elder abuse; A Wee Taste - a drama on underage drinking and Every Move You Make - a play on abusive relationships among young people. The plays will enable important social issues to be explored through theatre. Each play includes a workshop plan that can be used to examine the issues and to reinforce the learning. The books can be used by teachers, social workers, community workers, community activists and theatre makers working with groups to raise awareness.

Every Move You Make We continued to tour with the powerful and poignant Every Move You Make by Patricia Byrne, performed by Aoibh Johnson. Performances took place in May 2018 in The Cavan Rugby Club for schools and youth groups. In November 2018 we returned to Cavan with performances in The Ramor Theatre, and locally in St Cecilia’s College, St Josephs Boys School and Foyle Arts Centre. Each performance was followed by a Q+A with the writer, the actor and a representative from Women’s Aid and NSPCC. The play was first produced in 2012 and has continued touring. It tells the story of Jenni, who is approaching her 16th birthday. Her new boyfriend Jamie will be at her party. He is so nice. He is interested in everything she does. He always wants to know where she is and what she is doing. He texts her all the time and follows her every move on Facebook. But things start to take a turn, and Jenni isn’t so sure anymore.

Many thanks to Guildhall Press for their guidance. The publications were supported by the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland.

The play follows the ups and downs of a young woman’s relationship as it goes from being near perfect to becoming an impossible nightmare. The production explores the issue of abusive relationships among young people. It was developed in consultation with Youth Action NI and NSPCC.

“This is a very moving piece of theatre. The aim is to disturb and that is achieved fully. None watching this play would ever again be victim to such abuse having witnessed a relay of classic symptoms.” Imelda Foley, Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Sole Purpose Theatre Labs Sole Purpose Productions presents a

In 2018 we ran two Theatre Labs. An LGBT Theatre Lab and a Theatre Lab for people with a disability and / or a mental health condition. In September 2018 we worked with four writers/actors from the LGBT community. It was facilitated by Don McCamphill, he is a writer/director who has worked with BBC Drama, Radio 4, Soho Theatre in London, Tinderbox Theatre and Aisling Ghear. We worked on two scripts – Alyce’s Diary by Jennifer Clifford, which tells the adventures of a transgender woman in a Bridget Jones’ style, and She Wants to be a What? by Berni Kerr, which follows a mother’s journey through her son’s transition. In December 2018 we worked with six people with disabilities and or a mental health condition.

They brought a variety of pieces including theatre scripts, poems, short stories and memoirs. The workshop was facilitated by Shauna Kelpie, who has directed many plays produced by Sole Purpose. On 4th December two of the group presented their work at the European Day of Persons with Disabilities Conference at the Guildhall in Derry.

Rehearsed Reading

She Wants to be a What???!!! by Berni Kerr Monday 19th November 7.30pm The Junction Bishop Street BT48 6PW Book your place! Admission by donation Contact 028 7127 9918

Caitriona Cunningham Maureen Wilkinson Ryan Johnston Paul O’Doherty Mel Bradley Felicity McCall

On 19th November 2018 we held a Rehearsed Reading of She Wants to be a What? by Berni Kerr at The Junction in Derry, to coincide with Transgender Day of Remembrance. It was followed by a Q+A with the writer and transgender spokesperson Jennifer Clifford. There was a very positive response to this work. This play went into full production in 2019 with sold out performances and standing ovations.

Work April 2018 - March 2019 May 2018

Past Productions

July 2018

By Patricia Byrne Blinkered Every Move You Make A Wee Taste Don’t Say A Word See No Evil Camden Tales Under The Carpet

Tour of Every Move You Make: Cavan Rugby Club The Ramor Theatre, Cavan St Cecilia’s College St Joseph Boys School Ulster University at Foyle Arts Centre Sadaakah – Cairdeas – Friendship Day: A day of Arabic language, arts, culture and food in partnership with Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin

September 2018

The launch of new publications, Plays for Social Impact by Patricia Byrne.

September 2018 LGBT Theatre Lab

October 2018

Ethnic Minority Women’s Group Theatre in Language Project at The Women’s Centre.

By Dave Duggan Riders to the Road AH6905 The Recruiting Office Scenes from an Inquiry Waiting….. Without the Walls The Shopper and the Boy

£4.95 Each

Performance at European Day of People with Disabilities Conference.

By other writers She Wants to be a What? by Berni Kerr Mothers Out Front by Edie Shillue The House by Edie Shillue Pits and Perverts by Micheal Kerrigan, script developed by Patricia Byrne The Maidens’ City: A Herstory of the Walled City by Anne Crilly Galatea by Lawrence Aronovitch Clouds on a Mountain Road by Orna Akad Did You Come By Boat? by Elly Omondi Odhiambo and Patricia Byrne The Shadowmen by Debbie Caulfield and Rea Curran

January 2019:

Photography by Gav Connolly and Francesco Rotolo

November 2018

She Wants to be a What? By Berni Kerr, Rehearsed Reading for Transgender Day of Remembrance. Tour of Every Move You Make for 16 Days of Action Against Violence Against Women

December 2018:

Blinkered tour of New York in Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Festival. Received the Special Jury Award.

We are truly grateful to our funders, supporters, sponsors and partners: Our Core funders: Arts Council of Northern Ireland Our Programme Funders: Derry City and Strabane District Council Good Relations Programme Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland Community Foundation for Northern Ireland Sponsors: Diamond Corrugated E+I Engineering Mr and Mrs Eamon Tierney Our partners this year: Breffni Integrated Ltd Ulster University Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin Guildhall Press The Women’s Centre Derry Origin Theatre, New York New York Irish Center New York City Department of Education City College of New York Hofstra University, New York Irish American Society New York Solace House, New York American Association of Suicidology Thank you to The Derry Playhouse and all the staff for their ongoing support.

We could be thanking you too! As a non profit organisation and a charity, Sole Purpose Productions depends on grants, sponsorship and donations to make our work possible. If you would like to support us in our work, either through in-kind sponsorship which could include providing transport or accommodation for tours, or by direct financial help, we would be delighted to have a chat about how we can make that happen! Call us on 028 7127 9918 or email

support us

Sole Purpose Productions 5-7 Artillery Street Derry Londonderry BT48 6RG E: T: +44 (0) 28 7127 9918 Sole Purpose Productions @SolePurpose_ Sole Purpose is a company limited by guarantee registration number NI37481 Recognised by Inland Revenue as a charity, reference number NIC100618 Financial statements are available on request.

Design & Print by Missprint T. 0792 7898 726