Centenaries Cluster

Update on the play '1912- A Hundred Years On'

In October, our play ‘1912, a Hundred Years On’ by Alan McGuckian and Philip Orr will take to the road once more. Following the success of the first set of performances in March, we were inundated with over 40 enquiries/requests for the drama from groups throughout the north of Ireland and these requests are still coming to us. While this was a pleasing outcome, it was also a daunting one, given that Contemporary Christianity is currently staffed on a volunteer basis and given that the organisation is not a theatre company nor does it have access to the funds to implement an extensive or widespread ‘run’ of the play or respond to very interesting venues for one off performances! However, after having worked to secure funding from a wide variety of sources, we can safely say that the 1912 drama will be out there for viewing in the autumn. It was clear to us from the last run that the pressure on the theatre team that we had swiftly assembled was really far too great and it could not be sustained in a second series. This meant working to assemble a larger paid team, including a stage manager, designer and technician. We also did some re-casting. A play is too complex and expensive an item to be delivered on a one-off basis except on very special occasions - and so we have been obliged to construct a strict sequence of shows, over a set period of three weeks. We have also had to recognise that while intimate performances in small, local venues are an ideal way to interact with audiences, we have to choose venues that will allow the maximum number of people to attend the show, given the hunger to see it and given the fact that this will possibly be the last time that it will be on the road. A full schedule of the Play venues is being worked on at present and details will be posted on the website as soon as arrangements are confirmed. As the decade of centenaries progresses there will soon be 1913 to consider! The challenge for Contemporary Christianity will be to work out what the key anniversaries are in 2013 and subsequent years and what should be the appropriate method of dealing with the issues which arise. August 2012  

The Centenaries Cluster

During the course of 2010, a group of Christians from different denominations came together to discuss the upcoming decade of centenaries, which begins in 2012 with the anniversary of the Ulster Covenant. We recognised that each cultural tradition would, quite understandably, wish to celebrate its own centenaries. However we also felt that an honest effort to look together at the past, undertaken by Protestants, Catholics, Unionists, Nationalists - and those who fall into none of these categories - has great potential for healing within our fractured society. Out of this insight, the Centenaries Cluster was born. It set about devising the best possible way to facilitate a shared  understanding of our often contentious history.

The Roadshow

Since most of us have a very imperfect grasp of our history, we recognised that the first component of any act of remembering has to be a basic retelling of the story in a way that is both interesting and engaging. We decided on a dramatic format using actors and audio-visuals. Our proposal is to bring together audiences from different sides of our politically divided society to hear and watch this story together. The performance will be followed by a facilitated discussion, raising questions like-
  • What did I learn about the period that I did not already know, or knew imperfectly?
  • Have I a better appreciation of why my forebears acted in the way that they did?
  • Do I have a better appreciation of why forebears on 'the other side' acted the way that they did?

The Way Ahead

The years from 1912 to 1922 are so full of events and so complex that no one evening could do more than scratch the surface of the period. For this reason, the first Roadshow will be confined to a dramatic presentation of some key events in 19i2, and the lead-up to those events during the previous months. In future years, subsequent Roadshows may deal with our history as it continued to unfold throughout the period from 1913 onwards.


Philip Orr taught English and Theatre Studies for many years in Lisburn and Downpatrick. He has written about the Great War and has been involved in a range of community education and drama projects. He is a member of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Belfast. Alan McGuckian is a Jesuit priest and a native of Cloughmills in Co Antrim. He was director for many years of the Jesuit Communication Centre in Dublin and he has wide experience in media and publishing in both English and Irish. He now lives and works in Belfast. May 2011 If you’re interested to know more, please contact us at info@contemporarychristianity.net

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