A West Belfast writer and director is attempting to tackle the delicate issue of suicide through her latest play.
Bronagh Diamond, from Lenadoon, is preparing to stage the controversially titled Hang In There at the Cultúrlann next month as part of Féile an Earraigh.
Despite the content, the young and extremely talented writer says she is excited about the looming performance. Describing the plot, the drama graduate explained how the tale examines the sensitive issue.
“Coleen is the main character,” she said. “Seconds after taking her own life, she finds herself trapped in an alternative existence and Pol, the second character, helps her through by looking closely at her past life and helping her come to peace with it.”
The play has been a work in progress for many years, as Bronagh explained, but it’s a story that was holding up her career, one that she had to get off her chest.
“I’ve written this play about 10 different ways,” she said. “I first wrote it five years ago but it just wasn’t the right time. I wrote and re-wrote it until I realised the problem, I was just beating about the bush. I decided I needed to cut out the rubbish and say what needs to be said.”
Like many, Bronagh has also been touched by suicide but she is determined to make the sad subject less hush-hush.
“I’m expecting varying reactions,” she said. “Everyone has been touched by suicide and it shouldn’t be taboo anymore.
“I do want to stress that this is just one possibility of what happens after death, it’s just my idea. I obviously hope for a positive reaction and although it is emotionally distressing, people will come out a lot lighter for it.
“I’m not trying to hurt anyone, it’s just a story I want to tell, I hope it gets people talking about suicide because so far it is practically unmentionable.
“I found writing it cathartic,” she added. “There is some humour and there are digs at the government and the mechanisms in society that are holding young people back. It’s just 45 minutes long but it covers a lot and I think it just says aloud what everyone is whispering about regarding suicide.”
Danielle Magennis plays the lead role of Coleen, she says it has been a tough character to take on, given the dark nature of the subject matter, but is adamant that while the play is provocative, it is also comforting.
“It’s very intense,” she admitted. “Before rehearsals I visited Suicide Awareness & Support Group for advice on how to handle the role so we have done our homework.
“People will find it strong but it ends on a positive note so I would encourage people to stick with it for the comforting ending.”
Working on the play has certainly left its mark on both girls and they are hoping for a positive reaction when the curtain goes up next month.
“It’s the toughest project either of us has done before,” said Bronagh. “We are excited about it and I have more work in the pipeline but I couldn’t settle until I got this story out there. We hope others will come along and see its worth.”
Hang In There is being performed at the Cultúrlann on March 15 & 16 at 8pm. Tickets are from the Cultúrlann or Féile an Phobail.