The Proposal (a contribution to ‘Convictions’)

© By Daragh Carville

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A marketing man and a photographer discuss proposals to reinvent a landmark of the Northern Irish Troubles as a heritage centre for tourists. However, the photographer has a shocking proposal of his own.

PHOTOGRAPHER Now that we have peace, I think it’d be fair to say that Northern Ireland isn’t going to be making the headlines quite so often any more.
WORDS MAN ...I guess not.
PHOTOGRAPHER There’s no suppose about it, sunshine. It’s a fact. Plain fact of the matter is from here on in the world is going to be a damn sight less interested in us and all our wee problems. And when we’re not in the headlines, people are just gonna start forgetting about us, aren’t they? Course they are. And who could blame them? They have their own problems to contend with, don’t they? Course they do. (They’re only human.)
PHOTOGRAPHER Well this is the irony, you see. Just at the very same moment that we’re disappearing from the world agenda, where are we at? We’re building Tourist Information Centres, hotels, theme parks, heritage centres. Do you see?
WORDS MAN I do see. I see your point.
(During the following, the PHOTOGRAPHER takes out a pack of cigarettes, and a Zippo. Takes a cigarette and lights up)
PHOTOGRAPHER I mean, if we’re not on the news anymore, people are gonna forget about us, aren’t they? SO who’s gonna want to come here, a boring wee arsehole of a province nobody’s ever heard of, hanging on at the edge of Europe.
(He holds out his cigarettes to WORDS MAN. The WORDS MAN takes one.
The PHOTOGRAPHER holds out the Zippo and lights it for him)
WORDS MAN Ah come on, though, we got plenty of other things going for us.
PHOTOGRAPHER Oh yeah, like what, for instance?
WORDS MAN (smokes) Well – friendliest people in the world! The pub culture! The music!
(The PHOTOGRAPHER is looking dubious)
WORDS MAN The landscape. The art.
(The WORDS MAN is running out of ideas now)
WORDS MAN The poetry?
(Pause. They smoke)
PHOTOGRAPHER It makes you think, doesn’t it?

This was a major site-specific promenade-style performance at the disused Crumlin Road Courthouse in Belfast. Tinderbox commissioned seven leading Northern Irish playwrights to write short plays responding to the space and reflecting on themes of justice and the act of passing judgment.

Audiences were taken through the disused building, site of some of the most significant trials of the Troubles, and presented with a series of provocative and resonant pieces of theatre.

One of the lingering questions after the Troubles concerns remembrance and the use of old buildings like the courthouse and the prisons.

Further Infomation


Crumlin Road Courthouse, Belfast






First produced by Tinderbox Theatre Company, Crumlin Road Courthouse, Belfast, October 2000.
Verse WAAR Festival, Breda, The Netherlands (2003)


Mark Lawson of BBCs Late Review: “one of the most vivid and original experiences I’ve had in the theatre”.