Community theatre groups from either side of the religious divide have decided to put on a play as part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s in eight months’ time. This is an ambitious project for them.
I would love the play, at the end of the day, whatever way we finish it, that people from Belfast come and see it, and walk out saying ‘They have gone past the peace process'.
For the one instance that I went with a Protestant, I met him and we were, sort of, going out. And I’ll never forget, he was gorgeous. I met him in the Orpheus. And I remember he left me home and he just says to me, 'Mary, I can't see you any more'. And I said 'Why?'. He says, 'Cause my mates all know you're a Catholic and I'm in the Orange Order, and I would get put out of the Orange Order, and they'll tell'.
Now her family was very, very Presbyterian, churchgoing Presbyterians. They didn't take at all well to this guy Seamus; and Audrey decided to change his name to 'Jimmy'. So he became Jimmy and this is something, this is something we resented - my mother hated and despised this. 'You're denying him his name, you're denying him his name because his name is Seamus - that's Irish. You're doing that because you're Protestant'.
I just personally love being involved in a collaborative process - not all the time. I just think it’s very good for a writer because you spend a lot of time on your own, in your own thoughts; so it's really…it's almost like flexing your muscles that bit more - that it is more difficult and it is more of a challenge. And plus they're all great people and there are some stories that, you know, that are amazing. People's own personal stories, and there's also great drama among the whole, em, group of people themselves. So it is, it's challenging and it's exciting and I actually do think it's fun.
When you write a play of your own, it's entirely 'from your own belly', as it were. This play is a whole lot of people's bellies and we have a responsibility to make sure everybody’s belly gets a bit of food out of it.