Tuesday’s PPPP (protest, picture, podcast, play)

I knew that the first day of the performance run – the bank holiday Monday – would be exhausting because of the sustained concentration and the adrenaline. Therefore I had cunningly booked the Tuesday off from work. Just for a day of rest and relaxation before the second evening’s show.

In an extraordinary turn of events I had slept long and fast after the first day – perhaps two shows in a day is tiring enough to guarantee sleep. As a result I was up early and refreshed on Tuesday – for a day of adventure.

I was a man with plans.

I wandered over to the national parliament at 1pm. I had a protest to attend. The protest was called ‘We’re having Nun of it’. This was the opening salvo in the campaign against the proposed new maternity hospital. I have written before of the institutional abuse, human trafficking and enslavement inflicted by the catholic church over decades on vulnerable women and children. The Tuam babies horror was inflicted by the Sisters of Charity.

Ireland needs a new national maternity hospital. The Sisters of Charity (which is an enormous, asset rich religious business claiming to be a holy order) own Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. They have offered the government – free of charge – land on their site,  on which to build the new hospital. The government has agreed to spend 300 million euros of taxpayers’ money to build this hospital on this location. But the hospital would be owned by the nuns, who would have a controlling presence on the board of management of the hospital. Which means that they would impose a ‘catholic ethos’ on the hospital. Which means – no abortions; no contraception; no sterilisation. Which if this hospital is to be taxpayer funded, is absolutely unacceptable.

The government makes the correct claim that this new hospital is urgently needed. Which begs the question why they thought it was a good idea to gift a hospital to a gaggle of crusty nuns in the first place? Well the public outrage is palpable. There are to be a series of protests until the government does the right thing – that there be no shadowy religious involvement in the new hospital.

It was a small lunchtime protest as the Dail reconvened after its Easter break. These will be ramping up over the next few weeks.

I felt like a bit I of a plank standing in front of the parliament gate shouting ‘Get your rosaries off our ovaries’ – not being in possession of a pair those fine organs. I amended it to ‘get your rosaries off their ovaries’. That seemed more fitting. Later that night I was sent a link to a Hot Press magazine article. In the accompanying picture I saw myself standing at the far left of the picture, holding a placard. How appropriate.

After the protest I sprinted over to the Savoy Cinema where a new gay themed Irish film is showing. It is called ‘Handsome Devil’. It is set in an all-boys, rugby playing boarding school, and tells the tale of a sixteen year old nerd who is bullied relentlessly for being gay (even though it is never confirmed in the plot, whether he is or not –  being called  gay is  still clearly the go-to insult to demean and belittle someone). He builds an unlikely friendship with the new boy at school – a rugby hero and potential saviour of the school’s rugby team. Somebody very important in the social hierarchy of teenage boys – the sportsman. The rugby hero has a secret however…

I loved it – it was very uplifting and moving. I wish this film had existed when I was sixteen. I think that this is a film that should be compulsory viewing for teenaged boys in school. It’s message of acceptance of being different, or an outsider, is lovely. I tried not to watch it with a cynical adult outlook. Therefore I didn’t focus on a problematic part of the script – namely the subtle insinuation that so long as you are good at sport, then it doesn’t matter if you are gay. Then again I am weather-beaten and corrupt, so my viewpoint isn’t going to influence some fifteen year old queen in secondary school, who can watch this film with utter joy.

I exited the cinema feeling refreshed.

At 5.30 I had a promotional appointment. One of the shows in the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival is a show called ‘Bleach’. A one man show it is written and performed by Dan Reeves and is being performed in Outhouse. This is a production from Exist Theatre in England, and the company producing it are doing a podcast of its experience at the festival.

They asked for volunteers from other shows to drop into Outhouse to have a chat about their own shows. I was free. I was feeling the urge to promote ‘An unexpected party’. So in I went.

We had a pleasant chat. I was slightly confused when I was told that my play sounded very Irish.  Since when has social awkwardness and tragedy been a uniquely Irish thing? I felt relieved when it was explained to me that what was meant by the question is that it seems like an Irish characteristic to take a very bleak and depressing issue and to find the comedic elements within the situation. I could handle that. In fact I felt quite flattered.

Onward to the Teacher’s Club where for the rest of the week until Saturday ‘An unexpected party’ will be performing at 9pm.

Book your tickets at www.gaytheatre.ie – or get them at the door.

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