The Monthly talks to Nikki Turner from Green Shoot Productions about the upcoming play, “The man who swallowed a dictionary”

Martin Lynch

Could you tell us a little about Green Shoot Productions?

Green Shoot was established in 2002 by Martin Lynch and it was established as a charity the aim of which was make theatre and the arts accessible to working class people. The idea was to bring plays of cultural, political and social relevance to working class communities.

We are very lucky to be funded by several organisations including T:BUC, Department of Foreign Affairs, Belfast City Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. That funding enables us to carry out the work that we do.

And would you consider Green Shoot Productions to be a Community Arts organisation?

Yes, although we produce Community Theatre we have a general outlook which is based in the arts. We aim to empower artists to work within communities and we aim with our work to tell the stories of the communities we work alongside, and our principal medium is theatre.

We do both community theatre and professional productions. Now when we work in the community, and we produce a community based play, we provide a professional scaffolding for that production. We will bring in professional actors to help local people improve their skills and also to empower them to be able to tell their story. That is a crucial part of what we do as a company.

How did the new production “The man who swallowed a dictionary” come about?

Bobby Niblock wrote the play, and the play is about the PUP leader David Ervine. Bobby served time in prison with David Ervine so had first hand knowledge of what he was like as a person and as political leader. As we are in the process of commemorating the Good Friday Agreement, Martin Lynch and Bobby “Beano” Niblock worked together to bring this production to the theatre.

I think it is also important to recognise that David Ervine played a very important part in the Peace Process, and his death was a great loss to Northern Irish politics, so part of the reason for doing this play is to recognise the role that David Ervine played in bringing peace to Northern Ireland,

Would you say it is important to amplify the role which David Ervine played in the Peace Process?

Yes I think that is accurate. He was a progressive thinker, he was well respected in both communities. He was supportive of the Women’s Coalition for example when a lot of the politicians at the time were very hostile to that organisation.

He was very articulate, he grew up around books and ideas, his father was a socialist and a great influence on him, and so these elements of David Ervine’s approach which are covered in the play.

He was not pompous, or grandiose and he developed a calm but quite direct way of expressing his ideas, and we aim to reflect that side of him in the production as well.

We also want to highlight how important David Ervine’s family was to him. That is something which is a very important aspect of David Ervine’s story and we worked very closely with his family to ensure that that aspect was covered respectfully.

Who plays the central character?

David Ervine is played by Paul Garrett, the director is Matthew McElhinney and we have a wonderful creative team backing up the director and the actor.

What are the dates and the theatres where people will be able to see the production?

The Man Who Swallowed a Dictionary will be performed in The Lyric from Tuesday May 2nd through to the 14th May. Other performances follow after that. You can see the dates at the link below

There will be a special panel discussion about the work on Saturday May 6th and there will be speakers, Bobby Niblock, Gareth Mulvenna and others.

artist forms link
New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.