The punk music scene of the 1970s and how it inspired an entire generation of young people to “stand up and be counted” is the subject of a full-length play that will be performed in Limerick next month.
The cast of “Punk Guerrillas” have commenced rehearsals for the original play which is also loosely based around the experiences of the controversial Russian punk rock group, Pussy Riot.
The County Limerick Youth Theatre production has its origins in a trans-national initiative that saw young people from Limerick and Loimaa theatre in southwest Finland participate in exchange visits during the summer. Youth Theatre members also hosted workshops for students in both countries to develop ideas for the production, as well as to explore and discuss the range of issues affecting young people.
“Punk Guerrillas” will be performed in The HoneyFitz Theatre, Lough Gur, Co. Limerick from December 6-8th. It includes a full cast of 20 youth theatre members, live music, comedy, agit-prop theatre and some audience interaction.
Limerick drama and arts facilitator, Fiona Quinn explained that the upcoming production is “a timely reminder of the passion and energy of youth at a time when the world is experiencing turbulent economic and social changes, just as is did during the punk era of the 1970s.”
Commenting on the background to the project, Ms. Quinn said: “Earlier this year, the Youth Theatre received funding from the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) to work with scriptwriter Kate Hammond to explore the ideas of punk rock from the 70‘s to hone their ideas of how young people today can stand up and be counted. Youth Theatre members also researched ways to be heard as a young person and how to express the need for social change through music and dialogue.”
Earlier this year, County Limerick Youth Theatre collaborated with the Finnish-based Loimaan Teatteri to create an education phase to schools in Limerick, namely Caherline NS, Scoil Mhathair De and Lough Gur NS. Supported by the European Commission’s Youth in Action Project and Led by Ms. Quinn and Finnish facilitator Sari Aikka-Torkkeli, the two groups connected through the internet using Skype and Facebook to discuss their ideas of how young people could have a voice in creating a more inclusive and integrated Europe.
“Through sharing their similarities and differences they came up with the idea of expressing their views through writing a play about a punk band that stage a punk protest,” explained Ms. Quinn.
She added, “During their visit to Limerick in June, members of Loimaan Teatteri travelled with their Limerick counterparts to local schools where they performed a first draft of Punk Guerrillas and work shopped with specific classes. The Irish members travelled to Finland in August to perform similar school workshops in Loimaa and participated in an open air concert for the whole town. The punk project was widely acclaimed as being a highly innovative piece of work that had a transformative power and got Finnish teenagers talking about really important issues that affect their lives.”
‘Punk Guerrillas’ synopsis:
The play revolves around a middle class girl, Nadia, who has been arrested for incitement to religious hatred because she joined a punk bank and they played a protest song in a church yard. The play starts with Nadia’s interrogation and explores how she became involved in the punk group and why she decided to defy her family and cause controversy by standing up for social justice when she saw wrong being done in her community. The third act of the play depicts Nadia’s trial and reflects Pussy Riot’s trial in many aspects. The audience then witnesses the scene showing the so-call, ‘pre-meditated act of criminal hooliganism’ and have to cast their votes as to whether Nadia is guilty or innocent.
The County Limerick Youth Theatre is an initiative of the Limerick County Arts Office and is funded by The Arts Council.