Produced by the Hawk’s Well Theatre and written by theatre artist in residence, Bob Kelly, ‘The Big Wall’ was a theatre production that formed part of our programme of events focusing on the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
Produced by the Hawk’s Well Theatre and written by theatre artist in residence, Bob Kelly, ‘The Big Wall’ was a theatre production that formed part of our programme of events focusing on the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. This unique, immersive piece of theatre took place in the historical settings of Sligo Courthouse and Sligo Gaol and ran from Thursday 26th to Monday 30th of May. With twenty-four sold out performances and over five hundred people attending the show, audience sizes were limited to ensure an intimate and unique experience. Beginning in the courthouse, the audience was brought on a journey through a Sligo of the past, finally arriving at Sligo Gaol or 'The Big Wall' as it was known. The immersive nature of this piece of theatre brought the audience that bit closer to life in Sligo in 1916.
The production featured a cast of six professional actors who were joined by a local cast from Sligo Youth Theatre and a cast of twenty-eight local actors. In total there were over seventy people involved including cast and crew.
The professional cast included Miriam Needham, Julie Sharkey, Bryan Quinn, Clare Monnelly, Ciarán McCauley and Margaret Kilcoyne.
This ambitious new performance project was supported by Sligo County Council & Ireland 2016. The project was also supported by local businesses including Nathaniel Lacy, Good 4U, Mullaneys Solicitors, Callan Tansey, ETB, the Sligo Park Hotel and Strathroy.
Picture above courtesy of The National Library of Ireland
Pictures above courtesy of Collin Gillen
“Attended The Big Wall by Hawk’s Well Sligo last night. One of the most amazing productions I've ever been to. Highly recommended. Very moving.” Eva Dearie, Wild Atlantic Way Manager, Fáilte Ireland
“Big congrats to Hawk’s Well Sligo on fantastic production "The Big Wall". Brilliantly written and acted. Very thought provoking. Go see it!” Mel Bourke, Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors, Sligo.
“An incredible experience - well done to all!” Siobhan Ryan, Heritage Officer, Sligo County Council.
“Great show last night, really immersive...Well done to all involved. If you are around this weekend make time for it.” Robert Gawley
“Congratulations on The Big Wall. What an imaginative way to portray Sligo's many layered history and to provide us all with a great opportunity to visit two of our historic buildings that we, the public, very seldom see.” John-Joe Gallagher
“It was unbelievably amazing. It changed things a lot for me, hearing the stories back like I never heard them before and brought the whole thing to life.”
Gary Burke, Lecturer in History & Folklore, St Angela’s College, Sligo.
“As Sligo people we are extremely proud of the story you told…My sister was given a line to say in the courthouse scene. She called the judges son James instead of Geoffrey. The judge without batting an eyelid corrected her quite sternly while the audience erupted into a fearful and muffled laughter. Well done judge!!!!!! We were so involved with what was happening that it was difficult to remember that we were part of an audience at a performance. Once again congrats to all involved.” Majella and Jane Byrne
“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed that performance last night. It was absolutely breathtaking. What a brilliant idea. Everyone there was blown away by it. The courthouse was such a great setting and the children were brilliant. The gaol was so eerie and so well presented. You all deserve so much credit. I loved the piece on Linda Kearns . I'm from Dromard so it was lovely to hear her story told in such a real way. Thank you so much for such a great experience in our own town.” Jacinta Gormley
One of the sources of research material for The Big Wall came from another Hawk's Well project titled 'Sligo Stories'. This project sought to collect stories from and about Sligo circa 1916, in particular those that refered to Sligo Gaol and its environs. In Autumn 2015, the theatre brought together a group of Cuairteoiri, reviving the Irish tradition, ‘to go on Cuairt', whereby people visited neighbours & friends to tell stories. These volunteers from the community interviewed and recorded the stories of those who had accounts relating to this time, both first-hand as well as inherited accounts that were passed down through families and friends. These previously unheard and unique accounts of Sligo life in the 1900s have been collated into an audio exhibition which is on display in the Hawk’s Well Theatre foyer until Autumn 2016.
We also devised an oral history project for primary schools called 'Sligo Selfies' which encouraged pupils to record the earliest memories that they and their families and friends had of Sligo. Our secondary schools programme for the 1916 commemoration was realised in an interactive workshop produced in conjunction with St. Angela’s College which took place in five secondary schools across the county in Spring 2016. The workshop was delivered by Bob Kelly and historian, Gary Burke.