Writing about the past isn't living in it


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The Independent Culture

My play Farewell was staged in the Playhouse in Derry-Londonderry last December, by Field Day theatre company, with Stephen Rea directing and playing the lead. After, I heard a critic on the radio expressing surprise about the subject. It was strange, she said, given my age. Strange to write about an IRA informer in an isolated cottage, when I had so many other life experiences. (I think she imagined me having a much more exciting life.)

This was a subject for the past, not for "new" playwrights. Yet living with the consequences of your actions is something for all of us, in varying degrees of consciousness or horror. It's very much an in-the-present experience. I wanted to see what it was like in the head of someone who had done terrible things, and was haunted by them, but who couldn't just be defined by them. I'm not an apologist. Neither for informing nor for terrorism. I'm an apologist for humans though, and what it's like to live within a hell you've created.

'Farewell', with the original cast, is on tonight at 9pm on BBC Radio 3