Whitehead graduate co-founds new theatre group

Rachel Coffey, Lorne McLarnon, Gina Donnelly, and Victoria Murray.
Rachel Coffey, Lorne McLarnon, Gina Donnelly, and Victoria Murray.

A Whitehead graduate is hoping to make theatre more accessible for young adults after setting up a drama company with three friends.

Gina Donnelly is part of the team behind Chaos Theory Theatre, a group committed to “creating art which speaks to the neglected 16-30 audience of Northern Ireland”.

Gina completed a BA in Drama at Queen’s University Belfast in July this year along with fellow students Rachel Coffey, Lorne McLarnon, and Victoria Murray.

“As part of our study we went to see a lot of plays and while the quality was good, we found that a lot of them focused on the past, on topics like The Troubles,” Gina explained.

“While we need to be aware of our history, we wanted to see more content that spoke specifically to our generation.”

The group set about conducting research to discover what other young people thought of their local theatre offering.

The results revealed that trips to the theatre were a rare occurrence for a large proportion of their age group.

“There were a few difference reasons given for this, such as a lack of knowledge about what was on in their local theatre, financial barriers, travel barriers and so on,” Gina said.

However, the content of contemporary plays in the province was also highlighted.

“The responses cried out for more comedy and more real engagement with the struggles of this generation,” Gina added.

“People wanted fewer Northern Ireland-specific plays, content that was more universally relevant; more comedy and more interactive theatre. We’re not talking enough about the LGBT community in a serious way either.”

The group’s first show, Ella Hickson’s Eight, was performed from November 14-16 at QUB’s Brian Friel Theatre.

Comprised of eight separate monologues, it was picked in direct response to the desires of those who answered the survey. “It’s a snapshot of our generation,” Gina said.

For more information on Chaos Theory Theatre and upcoming shows, visit the group’s Facebook page.