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Dublin in the 80s - 'Instead of an 18th birthday card, given a birth cert and told to sign on'

“I remember the city being a pretty run down, neglected, grey place”, writes Anthony Goulding.

Anthony Goulding Playwright

Playwright Anthony Goulding talks about his experiences growing up in Smithfield in inner city Dublin in the 1980s, and the impact a particular teacher had on him. This is his inspiration for his most recent play, ‘F.A.T.D.A.D.’, which is running at The Complex in Smithfield from 15 – 25 February.

GROWING UP IN Dublin in the nineteen eighties, there wasn’t a lot to be optimistic about. I remember the city being a pretty run down, neglected, grey place. The buildings on the quays were falling apart, almost reaching into the Liffey, begging to be swept away.

There was huge unemployment. I remember a friend’s older brother on his eighteenth birthday, not being given a birthday card, but his birth certificate and told to go and sign on.

Heroin was beginning to creep into the communities and there was the constant threat of bombs going off in in the UK or here in Ireland. Out of the grey and gloom, I did have a glimmer of hope in one of my teachers. A teacher who taught outside the box when it came to teaching pupils about Ireland and about right and wrong.

It was more than the curriculum, he wanted to teach us and learn from us. He encouraged us to speak our minds and look at Ireland as a country without division. He taught us to respect all religions and races always.

‘Creativity was my drug’

My way to escape the grey days was to create stories, escape to an imaginative world that was colourful, eventful, and always unpredictable.

My teacher taught me to enjoy the journey of the creative process and not to get hung up about the grammar and the punctuation, that the adventure was more important in the early drafting of a story. That was it, I was hooked, creativity was my hook, my drug.

At that moment I had a choice, I could become part of the fabric of the city and lean towards the Liffey like the dilapidated buildings or I could take the inspiration from those formative educational years and take the risk that my teacher always encouraged me to do and dream, keep dreaming.

Darragh Bryne starring in FATDAD at The Complex 1 Source: Mark Stedman

Today I still dream and will continue to do so for many more years. Inspiration can come from many sources, but when a young person is encouraged and told they can excel at a particular subject or an art form regardless of their background, or their address, that’s real teaching.

‘F.A.T.D.A.D.’, an acronym for the six counties of Northern Ireland, featured heavily in my education and as an Irish citizen growing up on an island that was partitioned. I always wanted to write a story that captured those difficult and turbulent years for all residents on this island.

It was a tough time, though we did have inspirational figures, who were at the coal face, looking and teaching the future generations to see the bigger picture.

As an artist and as a drama and creative writing teacher I would like to continue to inspire future generations.

Anthony Goulding is a professional playwright and co-founder of the Complex Youth Theatre. He also facilitates drama and creative writing in schools and youth groups. He is also on the panel for Writers in Schools and Writers in Prison with Poetry Ireland.

Tickets for ‘F.A.T.D.A.D.’ can be purchased online tickets.ie.

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Anthony Goulding  / Playwright

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