The Across the Lines cross border youth project has provided an opportunity for young people to work with their own drama leaders and be a part of a wider drama grouping, to learn under the creative direction of our able team of local drama leaders and Paula McFetridge and Carlo Gébler. Local drama leaders Declan, Sally and Tori have passionately brought to this production a variety of theatrical influences and drama style including physical theatre and creative chorus interpretations which have been cleverly and artistically integrated into one coherent production – about to take to stage.
Engaging with ‘the old SLNCR line’ has allowed us all to recognise the railway’s past existence and present importance to the region. Holding the railway at the centre of this project has provided an excellent “platform” (excuse the pun!) for a younger generation to engage with the older generation and to develop an awareness of living history and a shared heritage between the counties and on both sides of the border, and to consider cross-border journeys today.
The Manorhamilton based artist Séamus Dunbar has helped us think about the issue drawing on his own artistic practice of ‘walking in the landscape’ as way of getting to know the place where we are. Séamus led young people in two cross border groupings on a border walk taking young people ‘out of their own comfort zones’ to explore the place and meaning of the invisible border for themselves. They noted and drew their observations, mapping the landscape for themselves and together creating a master map.
Young people researched the SLNCR its role and importance in the past through site visits and interviews. The generated stories were all gathered and provided the catalyst for the writing of the new play which was tasked to Carlo Gébler. Carlo also undertook interviews and desk research including reading two books familiar to local railway enthusiasts, that written by N.W. Sprinks and Michael Hamilton. The challenge for the playwright was to integrate not only the stories but the emotions present in the sharing of stories and to create a hook for an engaging full length play. Carlo shares some of his own motivation for the project and the writing:
“I live in Fermanagh in the north-west of Ireland. Our links via
public transport to the rest of Ireland are rather meagre. We are a
very car dependent culture. It wasn’t always like that though. At
the start of the 20th century Ireland was the most – or one of the
most – railroaded countries in the world. We had trains, lots of
them, and the SL&NCR was one of them”.
“I wrote the play because I believe in the value
of things that connect people (like railways but not just railways)”.
It has been a unique and wonderful opportunity to have the Enniskillen-based memoir, short story writer, novelist and playwright Carlo Gébler work with young people on this project. Most of Carlo’s previous work is written for adults, however he also brings a wealth of experience from many years teaching creative writing across Ireland, including from Young Offenders Centre in Co Antrim to Trinity College and the American College in Dublin.
This production has also been an opportunity for young people to learn about theatre, back stage and in this production Enniskillen student Erin Webster takes on the role of stage manager for the production. Tickets can be booked for The Glens Centre performance here on Saturday and the Ardhowen performance here on Sunday.