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7 November 2002 Edition

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December premiere for new prison play

"This is a brilliant piece of writing, says director Jack Moylett of the latest work from the pen of Belfast playwright Rosaleen Walsh. "She writes in her own original and unique style and I believe she is among the best and foremost writers in the English language today."

Moylett was speaking to An Phoblacht about Rosaleen Walsh's latest play, Prelude to '81, which is set to get its premiere in Belfast at the start of next month.

Set in the period in the run up to the 1981 Hunger Strike, the play focuses on two imprisoned republican prisoners, Roisin, who is in Armagh jail, and Liam, imprisoned in the H Blocks.

Roisin is played by Belfast woman Roisin O'Reilly, making her acting debut, while Liam is played by Dublin's Paul Ward.

"The prison conditions are what you would find in the Black Hole of Calcutta, but what we see is how both Liam and Roisin rise above these conditions," says Moylett. "We get an insight into what makes Roisin and Liam tick and how they deal with the horror of their imprisonment."

Last year, when Rosaleen's play Final Encore, which dealt with the high rate of suicide among young Irish men, was being performed in the Golden Thread theatre in Ardoyne, the audience had to be evacuated after loyalists launched a bomb attack on the theatre.

Rosaleen Walsh was imprisoned in the early '70s. She was one of the first women to be interned, while both her partner and brother spent many years on the No Wash protest in Long Kesh.

Prelude to '81 will get its premiere on 1 December in the Seán MacDiarmada GAA Club on the Falls Road. It will then move to the Felons' Club on 2 December. Both performances will begin at 9pm and tickets will be available at the door, price £3.

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