‘Heart-warming’ response to Carrickfergus writer’s socially distanced theatre

A Carrickfergus actor and playwright is bringing socially distanced theatre to people living in isolation this week.

Socially distanced theatre production featuring three legends.
Socially distanced theatre production featuring three legends.

Maria Connelly and colleagues are performing ‘The Broads’ for NHS workers and patients in the RVH Belfast and at Karuna residential care unit and Carrickfergus Manor, both Carrickfergus.

Maria was delighted to receive funding from the Artist Emergency Programme for the production.

She explained: “This programme is funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Many of us who work in the arts have lost 12 months work due to Covid-19. As we are self-employed we do not qualify for the furlough scheme and getting other financial support is incredibly difficult so this funding from the Arts Council has been a lifeline for many.

“I had an idea a few years ago to write a play specifically for people living in isolation. I watched a news programme about elderly people who are suffering desperately from isolation. These people can go for months without any human interaction and I wanted to do something to break that loneliness.

“It is incredible that I have received funding now to do the show during this horrific pandemic. This is a time when the world desperately needs artists to bring hope, colour and change into the world, I am so grateful we are getting to do this play now and my hope is that other organisations get involved and support artists and see the benefit that art can bring.”

The funding allows the actors to rehearse, in isolation via Zoom, for one week and perform for one week.

Maria added: “My slots for the play filled up in a matter of hours. The reaction from the people the play is going to has been both heart-breaking and heart-warming.

“People are incredibly grateful we are bringing them a piece of theatre and are thanking us for giving them something to look forward to as their residents are starved of entertainment.”

Written and produced by Maria, the Broads features Christina Nelson (I’ll tell my Ma, Good Vibrations) as Bette Midler, Roisin Gallagher (Abigail’s Party, The Man Who Fell To Pieces) as Marilyn Monroe, Maria (Line of Duty, Two Sore Legs) as Judy Garland and Richard Clements (The Fall, Good Vibrations) plays live music.

The play lasts just under one hour and in the course of a week they will perform to approximately 500 people.

“We are so looking forward to bringing the play to the people. We may not have our stages but we have our spaces, please let us fill them.”

Maria has also set up a Facebook page for the show https://www.facebook.com/1eleventheatre/

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