Festival of Theatre for Social Change

In a first for Northern Ireland, Sole Purpose Productions stages four days of performances, workshops and more addressing important issues in society while highlighting the work being done to promote positive change

Festival Details


Wednesday, 21 February 2018 to Saturday, 24 February 2018

Theatre company Sole Purpose Productions will highlight how theatre can help improve society when it holds Northern Ireland’s first ever Festival of Theatre for Social Change on February 21-24.

For the past 21 years Sole Purpose has been at the forefront of theatre working for social change, touring throughout Ireland, the UK and having staged work in the USA, playing in theatres, schools, Women’s Aid centres and community venues.

Now the Derry~Londonderry based professional theatre company is bringing together other leading theatre companies in the UK and Ireland working on social issues for the festival held at the Playhouse Theatre.

Speaking at the festival launch at the Guildhall in Derry Londonderry, Sole Purpose Artistic Director Patricia Byrne said: 'The Arts has proved to be a powerful weapon in tackling issues such as peace and conflict, domestic violence, child abuse, mental health and suicide.'

She added: 'We decided to celebrate our 21st year by bringing together the top companies working in this vital area. Theatre is an important tool for promoting equality and addressing issues of concern in society and this festival will highlight the valuable work that companies in the UK and Ireland do to challenge stereotypes and tackle taboo subjects.'

The four day festival will include a range of performances, workshops, readings, an exhibition on the 21 years of the company and a Sole Purpose Theatre Lab with Rod Dixon, Artistic Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company.

Red Ladder Theatre Company

Highlights include Every Move You Make – a gripping play about abusive relationships among young people written by Sole Purpose Artistic Director, Patricia Byrne.

Leeds-based Red Ladder – Britain’s leading radical theatre company – will perform its powerful The Life and Soul about male depression written by Chris O’Connor who writes for the stage, TV, radio and film.

Sarah Thornton, Artistic Director of Collective Encounters Theatre Company in Liverpool will deliver a masterclass on Theatre for Social Change designed for actors, facilitators & activists.

Dublin theatre and film company Smashing Times will perform its highly acclaimed The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories from WWII – a snapshot of experiences of bravery, sacrifice and love amidst the horrors of war, which has toured all over Ireland.

Sole Purpose will present an evening of rehearsed readings of past productions by co-founder Dave Duggan, Artistic Director Patricia Byrne, and other writers, with input from partner organisations, academics and artists who have been involved with the work over the past 21 years.

The festival is funded and supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Theatre NI.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maoliosa McHugh welcomed the fact that the festival was using arts and theatre to explore and highlight many important social issues.

'The Council is delighted to be associated with the festival and is very supportive of the ethos behind it,' he said. 'This festival is a welcome addition to the city and district’s diverse range of cultural and arts events and I am confident it will be a huge success.'

Lizzie Devlin, Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said they were proud to be principal funder of Sole Purpose which has continually produced high-quality, impressive work, supporting new writing and engaging with marginalised communities in the creation and staging of new productions as well as touring work internationally. 

'The Arts Council is proud to support Sole Purpose through National Lottery and public funding and wish the company continued success with this new festival.'

Niamh Flanagan of Theatre NI said her organisation was honoured to support and take part in the Festival of Theatre for Social Change and congratulated Sole Purpose on an excellent programme of masterclasses, performances and discussions.

'This event which is an important one for the arts in the North West celebrates over 20 years of work from Sole Purpose and others working together using the tools of theatre to support the communities they serve, tell their stories and create positive change with them. We are looking forward to taking part; learning, sharing, celebrating and looking forward with hope.'

For information about the full festival programme go to http://www.solepurpose.org/page/Sole-Purpose-21-Years-Festival-of-Theatre-for-Social-Change.

Stay up to date with Sole Purpose on Facebook and on Twitter.