“You keep going on about there being no plays about Protestants”
From Le Monde Diplomatique:
One evening in November 2005, as Gary Mitchell sat on his sofa at home in a Belfast suburb, watching Rangers play Porto on the telly, he heard his wife shout from the kitchen: “They’re on top of the car!” Then, she shouted, “They’re smashing the windows! It’s on fire!”
He grabbed a baseball bat, and rushed outside. There was a series of small explosions as the tyres on the burning car – his car – burst. Behind him, his wife had panicked; she had picked up their seven-year-old son and fled out the back of the house. When the police arrived, hours later, Mitchell asked what had taken them so long. “We were busy with the rest of your family,” they said.
His family’s homes had also been targeted, as had that of a stranger mistaken for one of his family. “What’s going on?” he asked the two policemen. “You should stop writing these plays that annoy people,” said one. “Or just leave,” said the other.
“Stopping writing just wasn’t an option,” says Mitchell, when we meet in Belfast. “So I took my family, and we left.”
Gary Mitchell was an unlikely playwright. Though “the Troubles” (as the Northern Irish conflict is known) has produced an extensive body of artistic work, none of it has come from where Mitchell comes from. That is an area north of Belfast called Rathcoole.