Writer Liam Campbell, who died just weeks before the opening of a stage-production he wrote about Bloody Sunday, is one of the contributors to a new film about the making of the musical drama.
The hour-long documentary, on BBC One NI tonight, Monday, March 7 at 10.45 pm, follows producer Kieran Griffiths’s determination to bring the story of Bloody Sunday and its impact on his hometown to the stage.
“The White Handkerchief” tells the story of Bloody Sunday through the eyes of victim, William McKinney (played by Warren McCook).
The performance opened to huge success in Derry’s Guildhall earlier this year.
Presented by The Playhouse in Derry, it takes its title from footage of Bishop Edward Daly carrying a blood-stained handkerchief as he helped bring dying teenage victim Jackie Duddy from the Bogside.
For producer and director, Mr Griffiths, the opening was the end of a torturous journey. Mr Griffith said the inspiration for the show came to him almost spiritually in Derry’s Playhouse two and a half years ago.
“It was almost as if Edward Daly whispered in my ear and said you have to do this for me,” he said.
He immediately went to his friend and writer Mr Campbell and told him they were going to write a drama to honour “the waking lives” of those who died rather than the stock images of their bodies.
He put together a team to work on the project, including composer, Brian O’Doherty.
The plan to develop a musical drama came from the fact that the Bloody Sunday protesters sang the civil rights’ anthem “We Shall Overcome” as they marched.
However, in a sad and tragic development, writer, Mr Campbell died last year, before the performance came to stage. However viewers can see a contribution from him offering his thoughts on the project.
Mr Griffiths said: “Liam and I were very, very close. His death was devastating; I considered him my brother. He kept me on the path as part of this journey.
“People might not know but Liam was still working on this just nine days before he passed away, so it was crucial that he be in the documentary; he tortured himself to write the show.”
Mr Griffiths said he was determined to complete the work despite the death of his close friend.
He was forced to put his grief to one side to meet the deadlines that he and Mr Campbell had set.
Following the show’s spectacular success, he allowed himself to grieve, knowing that his work had been accepted by the most important audience of all, the Bloody Sunday families.“We brought 90 of the families in in October and invited them to the performance with specially commissioned handkerchiefs carrying the names of their loved ones. For me, once they were ok with the performance, I was ok,” Mr Griffiths said.
He now intends adapting the production to a more standard theatre setting following its’ opening in a specialised setting of Derry’s Guildhall. He hopes to take the performance to other venues including New York and Berlin.
Tonight’s documentary follows “The White Handkerchief” from concept to page to production at Derry’s Guildhall where it marked January’s 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. It includes contributions from Mr Campbell, Mr Griffiths, composer, Mr O’Doherty and the show’s cast as well as the Bloody Sunday families.Tags: