RJ’s Leaving Day performs at Stormont

Posted on 16 March 2011 in Outreach



RJ's Leaving Day

Facebook crisis takes centre stage as young people perform new play at Stormont


15 young people from Belfast and Bangor have been invited to Stormont to perform a play written by and starring themselves in front of an audience made up of MLAs and other dignatories. The play, RJ’s Leaving Day, follows two teenage girls as a group on Facebook catapults them into a whirlwind of protest, politics and media attention. Their actions lead to the prospect of a mass migration of 16-18 year olds from Northern Ireland, throwing both the Stormont Government and parents into a panic.

Entirely written by its young cast of performers, with expert guidance from Tinderbox Theatre Company’s Outreach Director Ciaran McQuillan, RJ’s Leaving Day dramatises the frustrations felt by young people at their lack of a role in society and how little say they have in the decisions that affect their lives.  The project is the culmination of nine months work between Tinderbox, the Children’s Law Centre and community groups across Belfast.

The show was originally performed in February at the Baby Grand in Belfast’s Grand Opera House, where OFMDFM Junior Ministers Gerry Kelly and Robin Newton were so impressed that they invited it to appear in the Long Gallery, Stormont on 21st March.

Commenting on RJ’s Leaving Day Junior Minister Gerry Kelly said: “I have been greatly inspired by the work and passion that has gone into the writing and production of this fantastic show. With clever scripting and good use of humour, the young people have managed to capture and accurately portray some of the key issues facing them today from relationships with the police, education fees, how the media portrays young people and having a voice on issues affecting them. We always make it a priority to listen to children and young people as we know they have the ability to bring a different and valuable view to the table. I wish them every success with the play.”

Director Ciaran McQuillan, is excited by the work which the young cast has created:

“I’ve been impressed with the passion and commitment of the young people involved in this project. They have really embraced the opportunity to dramatise some of the issues which concern them and the play which they have created should give those in authority plenty to think about.”

The Children’s Law Centre has been advocating legislative action from the Northern Ireland Assembly on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

‘If other groups in society were denied a say in the way that young people are there would be an outcry and rightly so.  When it comes to young people however, it’s a different story because it is acceptable to ignore us and to demonise us,’ says youth@clc member Helen Monaghan.  ‘Our play addresses this issue and sends a message to all decision makers that young people have important and valid points to make and that we need to be allowed a more active role in making decisions about our lives.’

This project has been funded by Belfast City Council, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Clore Duffield Foundation, The Rayne Foundation, Hope For Youth & The Big Lottery Fund.