Drama tackling suicide on tour

Ryan played by actor Patrick McBrearty and his father David, (Pat Lynch) in a scene from Blinkered
Ryan played by actor Patrick McBrearty and his father David, (Pat Lynch) in a scene from Blinkered

A powerful Londonderry drama which explores the impact of suicide on families is reaching out to new audiences with a major new theatre tour from February 9 until March 30

Sole Purpose Productions is taking ‘Blinkered’ written by Patricia Byrne and directed by Shauna Kelpie, on tour thanks to funding from the Arts Council of Ireland’s North South Touring Fund and the ESB Energy for Generations Fund. ‘Blinkered’ will be staged in the city before visits to theatres in Donegal, Belfast, Strabane, Dublin, Sligo and Drogheda.

Sole Purpose, which also celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is opening the tour at The Playhouse where the dynamic theatre company is based, on Thursday February 9. The play stars Patrick McBrearty (Three Sisters:The Lyric), Cathy Brennan Bradley (The Lantern Man), Gemma Walker (The Makey Uppers) and Pat Lynch (Over the Wire: The Derry Playhouse)

Artistic Director Patricia Byrne, who consulted with mental health and suicide prevention professionals, explained: “‘Blinkered is a play which explores the issue of mental health, suicide, and its impact on the family. Sole Purpose wanted to raise awareness of this challenging subject and we worked closely with key people including Siobhan O’Neill, Professor of Mental Health Services at Ulster University School of Psychology; Conor McCafferty, Manager at Zest NI; Bridie Sheridan, Manager at Youthlife; and AWARE NI.”

The play follows the story of Ryan who has his music, friends, and a family that care about him but there is a “darkness and a heaviness” that will not go away. Recalling the impact on audiences when the drama was first staged, Patricia said: “It was a highly emotive and hard hitting production but one which dealt with a subject which we in this city are only too familiar with.” The Samaritans will be available to provide information or the numbers to call are 116123 (UK) 116123 (ROI). For more information about ‘Blinkered’: www.solepurpose.org