Date of Completion
From 1969 to 1998, the conflict known as the Troubles raged in Northern Ireland, killing 3,500 people and devastating Belfast. Many dramatic adaptations tackle the conflict, from Neil Jordan’s Oscar-winning The Crying Game to Fifty Dead Men Walking. These adaptations usually focus on combatants in the conflict, however; none, to my knowledge, full address the experience of Belfast hospital staff, from doctors to nurses to porters. Hospital staff – especially those working at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, which lay at the edge of the Falls Road, an area keenly affected by the conflict – came from all sorts of backgrounds, both Catholic and Protestant, and had to navigate these questions of identity while trying to lives. My play, therefore, titled The Old Sorrow, explores the dramatically neglected role and experiences of these hospital staff, as well as the notion of the hospital as a microcosm or crucible for the conflict, a place where people from all sides were forced together.
More broadly, however, I seek to remedy a certain failing common to popular adaptations of the Troubles, which often dilute the complexities of the Northern Irish situation in favor of a streamlined, sensationalist narrative. One of the reasons for this, perhaps, is that while Neil Jordan is Irish himself, many of those heading other adaptations are not and, therefore, are automatically distanced, emotionally and politically, from the Troubles. Acknowledging my own authorial distance within the play itself – presenting the Troubles as honestly as I can while also being honest about my own experiences – is the more conceptual tightrope I walk while writing The Old Sorrow.
Schlenz, Emmett J., "The Old Sorrow" (2016). Honors Thesis. 128.