Northern Ireland Takes Centre Stage

New Brexit-inspired drama created in collaboration between National Theatre, Carol Ann Duffy and the Playhouse set for exclusive run in Derry

The National Theatre has collaborated with the Playhouse in Derry~Londonderry for the first time to create My Country; a work in progress, a new play inspired by the recent EU Referendum. It will be presented from April 4 to 8 April as part of a UK tour following its current run at the NT’s Dorfman Theatre in London.

In the days following the Brexit vote, teams from the National Theatre and eight arts organisations spoke to people aged nine to 87 across the UK, including from Northern Ireland, to hear their views. In a series of interviews, they heard opinions that were honest, emotional, funny and sometimes extreme. These testimonials are blended with speeches from political leaders to create a new play by Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, and directed by National Theatre Artistic Director Rufus Norris. Northern Ireland is represented by County Antrim born actor Cavan Clarke. 

In the play, Britannia (played by Penny Layden) calls a meeting to listen to her people: Caledonia (Stuart McQuarrie), Cymru (Christian Patterson), East Midlands (Seema Bowri), North East (Laura Elphinstone), Northern Ireland and South West (Adam Ewan). 

Rufus Norris, said: 'One of my ambitions for the National Theatre is to make it truly national and through collaboration, embrace the creativity and opinion around the UK. The Brexit vote unleashed a host of questions about our country, way beyond the issue of Britain's role in Europe. It articulated a deep disaffection. Those elements provoked a need and opportunity to create a piece of theatre that responds to that palpable sense of frustration and disillusionment. Art has always responded to what is happening now and it's what I hope we achieve with My Country.’

Penny Layden (Britannia) Seema Bowri (East Midlands) Cavan Clarke (Northern Ireland)

Penny Layden (Britannia) Seema Bowri (East Midlands) Cavan Clarke (Northern Ireland)

Cavan Clarke grew up in Ballymena. His stage credits include The Cherry Orchard at the Young Vic, Wendy and Peter at the RSC, Last of the Boys at Southwark Playhouse and most recently The Plough and the Stars at the National Theatre.

Rosemary McKenna, the Staff Director for My Country, studied at Trinity College Dublin, and trained as a director on the Rough Magic SEEDS programme. She is an Associate Director for Actors Touring Company. Staff directing at the National Theatre includes The Red BarnThe Deep Blue Sea and Here We Go.

As a director, her work includes Apollonia at the Project Arts Centre for the Dublin Theatre Festival; Shellshock at the Town Hall Theatre; Snow Angels and Way to Heaven (nominated as Best Director at the Irish Times Theatre Awards) at Project Arts Centre; Catch of the Day for the Big House Festival; Anna in Between for the Dublin Fringe Festival; Heroin(e) for Breakfast at Smock Alley Theatre; Bedbound at the New Theatre and Samuel Beckett Theatre; and The Importance of Being Earnest at the Samuel Beckett Theatre.

Tickets for My Country; a work in progress can be booked via or by calling 028 7126 8027.