A stunning photo published by the Waterford News & Star provided the inspiration behind Jim Nolan’s latest play, which will run at Garter Lane Arts Centre for three weeks this November (10-30).
Speaking at the launch of his new play, titled ‘The Red Iron’, which will be proudly presented as a Red Kettle production, the John’s Park native stated: “I really wanted to go home when it came to a play; I felt basing a play of mine in Waterford was overdue so I resolved that whatever next I’d write (following ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’) was going to set here. So then I waited, which is what you have to do as a writer. And one day, a couple of years ago, I opened the News & Star and I saw a photograph of the Red Iron Bridge and I was so struck by the drama of it, it was a stunningly, wonderful picture. So I immediately knew that whatever I was going to write, that this was where it was going to happen.” The play is set during the homecoming of Waterford’s hurlers following All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final defeat, involving characters situated on the bridge itself.”
Incidentally, the only publicly disclosed cast member for the production is Gretta Rochford, whom Jim has specifically written a role for.
The play’s production team has established a Fundit crowdfunding campaign (which goes live this week) from which they’re aiming to raise between €7500 and €10,000 to assist in the staging of Jim’s latest work.
Said producer Michael Grant: “Such support will allow us to produce a quality piece of homegrown and home-acted theatre. We know that there’s goodwill out there and we can feel it already and we’re delighted to help to steer this on an economic journey. A little from a lot is a great amount, which is why we’re hoping we’ll get as many €10 contributions as we can. And we’ll really need everybody’s help.”
Following the closure of Red Kettle in 2014, Jim discovered that this famed theatrical name, so synonymous with Waterford, hadn’t been trademarked.
“As someone who had been involved with Red Kettle since the beginning, its closure was very upsetting. I remembered all the hours we spent in a basement room in Garter Lane, back in the 80s, trying to figure out a name for the company,” he said.
“In what must have been an act of pure desperation, three or four hours into our deliberations, somebody spotted a red kettle in the corner and that’s we settled on. That day and that particular time in my life came flooding back to me when news broke of its closure so then I made a few enquiries and it turned out, to my delight, that the Red Kettle name was still there, in the trademarking ether so to speak, so I bought the name, put it my back pocket and said to myself, maybe I’ll take it out again, maybe I won’t. My feeling was that if circumstances came together, I’d use it and I think that the combination of that famous location in the play’s title, the work that I’ve written, the bunch of latchicos supporting me and not least the actors that I hope to attract to it, makes this, if I was ever going to use it again, that this would be the time to do it. And I’m certain that having a lot of those things in place that, over the coming months, I’ll also be able to put together a cast that will do justice to the play.”
The play is being supported by Michael Grant, Pádraig Ó Gríofa and Blackwater Gin, along with Waterford City and County Council. They’re now hoping that the public will weigh in behind their new fundraising campaign as ‘The Red Iron’ takes the leap “from the page to the stage”.