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a tale for our times

The streets of Ballyfermot are the stage today for a modern twist on the Passion of the Christ

The theatrical production will retell the story with a modern twist, incorporating the housing crisis.

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OVER THE NEXT two days, a unique live performance on the streets of a Dublin suburb will explore the housing crisis through a reimagining of the Passion of the Christ.

The streets and civic spaces of Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard will be the stage, and its locals the players, in the Passion Project – a non-religious theatrical event for the whole community to take part in.

Devised by theatre company Brokentalkers, in collaboration with dozens of local schools and community groups, the production will tell the story of a young homeless woman who challenges a property developer intent on taking over some of the area’s most valuable public spaces for profit, without consultation with the local residents.

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Brokentalkers’ Gary Keegan said the aim of the Passion Project was to ask the local community to ask what kind of society they want to live in, and that expressing these themes this way reaches people in a way that a regular community meeting can not do.

He said: “One of the big concerns to emerge from our workshops with local groups was housing and homelessness and that is why we focused on those topics.

Our version of The Passion is non-religious but it keeps the theme of sacrifice, redemption and hope, and explores them through the confrontation between the homeless woman and the property developer.

Professional actors Donal O’Kelly and Roxanna Nic Liam will play the parts of the developer, Mr Temple, and the homeless woman known only as the Messenger.

In all, there will be 200 local performers, musicians, dancers and singers of all ages through the event.

Ann-Marie Leonard, principal at local secondary school St John’s College, told that the “ambitious project is a very big deal for Ballyfermot”.

She praised the professionalism of the organisers, and said that the students were enjoying clear benefits from taking part in the Passion Project.

“It gives them so much confidence,” she said. “Young people thrive and flourish in this kind of environment and it’s not something they may get to do very often.

It’s something fresh, involving so many aspects of the community. It’s a brilliant project.


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The performance will start today at 2pm, at the Aspect Hotel in Park West. The audience will witness the developer launching his plans for the area.

It will then move on to the Equine Centre in Cherry Orchard for a horse show, before a community parade to Blackditch Road, where the audience will witness a family being evicted.

The performance will then become an active community forum, with locals invited to discuss what they’ve witnessed and discuss ways to rejuvenate the area at the Community Civic Centre.

Tomorrow, the Passion Project resumes at Ballyfermot library with a new theatre piece based on the themes of home and homelessness.

In the Ballyfermot College of Further Education at 5pm, there will be a Best of Dublin 10 concert with local singers and musicians taking part. Tickets are €10 and all proceeds go to the Simon Community.

After that, the production steps things up a notch with a procession to the Church of the Assumption, where “the Messenger” will go on trial. This is followed by a march to Markievicz Park for the crucifixion and resurrection.

All of the events, with the exception of the concert, are free to attend.

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Community spirit

Many have heralded the event as an example of fostering community spirit to talk about an important issue.

The Dublin City Council south central area manager Peter Finnegan said: “The Passion Project addresses regeneration and the resurrection of community spirit and action in Ballyfermot/Cherry Orchard.

Using this Easter awakening message, reimagined within a cultural initiative, it becomes a call for change and community empowerment.

Iseult Byrne, project director for Dublin’s Culture Connects, said the initiative is all about “empowering communities to use culture as a tool for expression”.

Local councillor Vincent Jackson said that the event will celebrate “all that’s good about the Dublin 10 area”.

“The people of Ballyfermot have worked on this project for months, developing it with Brokentalkers, planning, rehearsing and fundraising,” Jackson said.

I would urge anyone interested in shaping the future of the Dublin 10 area to come and see the performance and take part in the community forum.

Further details about the Passion Project can be found here.

Read: Transgender teens, blended families and feminism – the new breed of children’s books

Read: A spy novel set in Dublin during the 1940s Emergency chosen as this year’s One City One Book

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