Newry: Now, Near and Never a series of five short plays will be streamed to the world later this month in a first for Newpoint Players. The online performances will incorporate many of the Newpoint greats from over the years.

It is at a time of crisis that the right people usually step up to the mark and make a diference and if the Covid-19 pandemic playing out in front of us isn't that time then when is?

 Newpoint greats have circled the wagons and come to their defence against a sea of troubles and despite all odds, their 38th annual Youth Show is nearing performance. It coincides with ‘Ould’ Newpoints 75th birthday. It was originally to be set in various areas of Newry Market with a very select social distanced audience but alas this is now not possible.

A Newpoint performance of Shakespeare in Newry Town Hall back in 2016. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
A Newpoint performance of Shakespeare in Newry Town Hall back in 2016. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

Five separate short plays have been specially written, directed and rehearsed in bubbles, on-line, in wide-open spaces and, Covid booted and suited, in large auditoriums.

For the project many of their Youth Group graduates who are now professionals in the Theatre & Screen Media have returned home or are guiding them at a distance.

David Pearse

Overall supremo is everybody’s favourite dead Viking, David Pearse who has just been cast in Brassic, to be filmed by Sky; he should currently be filming the major feature film The Thicket in Spain. But then.....

David is bringing the 5 x 10min plays about Newry – Now, Near & Never into a cohesive entity to be streamed on Friday 28th August at 8pm. Parts will be recorded in advance.

Eugene O'Hare

Eugene is both an actor and writer. His latest play, Sydney And The Old Girl, ran in The West End with Miriam Margoyles in the title role. For Newpoint Youth, he has written a fantastic play set in Newry 2039 when the town has just won a major award ( Note: Hopefully for the 16th birthday of Newry's Iconic City Park!) with an even more surprising historical cause which eventually led to such an honour.

This play is directed by Caolan Byrne who was an actor in the TV series Chernobyl which recently made such an impact in the BAFTAs. Caolan directed Newpoint Youth last summer in Peter Pan.

Oisín Kearney

Oisin’s play foresees a battle between all the bakers on Hill St with Arthur McCann himself being resurrected to make an intervention. Oisín had his play My Left Nut produced both on stage and as a TV series. A busy man, he had directed this ‘bun-fight’ himself assisted by one of our young actors, Grainne O’Flaherty.

Feargal Murphy

Fergal, a Legal Practitioner in the Big Smoke of London, has written of the Newry man, Jimmy Gill, who held out against the forces of law & order from atop an industrial chimney for two weeks employing much wit and artifice against The Powers That Be. Feargal is directing his own show.

Daniel Sutherland

Daniel is working in the RCN in London having studied Creative Writing in Warwick University. He has had many works published and we are delighted that he has added to his oeuvre a play on an alternative Newry – sealed from the outside world in a dome since Thatcher’s Days. We re-visit them in the 90s to see how the town has developed separately.... Or has it?

A group of Newpoint performers from the early 1980's. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
A group of Newpoint performers from the early 1980's. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

This play is directed by Emma O’Hanlon, seasoned Newpoint Youth director and Drama Teacher in St Catherine’s College, Armagh. Emma also takes a drama group in the innovative Sticky Fingers. Not content with one bubble of actors she has also directed the next play...

Written by Sean Treanor who, is the only writer/ director NOT to have been in the Youth Group...for obvious reasons – the drama is set in Newry Market around the early 60s when school uniforms were prized expensive possessions and your family reputation was constantly imperilled by gossips.

The Plan

But enough of all these ‘luvvies’. The whole purpose is to sustain the process from where they came: the youth of Newry, Mourne & Down. From the second week of July, 22 young people have been meeting on-line, in well-ventilated sanitised locations, in the open air and working hard at the process which turns ideas into words and then performances. There's a policy of ensuring that there are ‘no stars in Newpoint.’ The team, in this case the bubble, is what matters. The self-discipline is always maintained and now amplified by the Covid19 restrictions they have been so careful in maintaining. One of their number, Rebecca Lively, has provided a spectacular costume design for each character. It’s not all prancing about on stage!

The plays were to be performed on five separate stages in Newry Market with micro-audiences at each who would then ‘carousel’ to the next stage without encountering the other groups. It was a ‘best made plan’ which The Powers, unfortunately, decided must ‘gang a-gley’.

The group have simultaneously been working the alternative Plan which now comes into play. The event to be streamed on Friday 28th August is being techno-mastered by Diarmuid Rankin & Mark Hughes. It will be a mixture of live feed and material recorded right up-to-the-wire. It should last approximately 1 hour and will feature cameos from some of Newpoint’s most Senior Service including Pat Mooney, the veteran Abbey teacher Ryan McParland and Eithne Bell who must surely be Newry’s honorary theatrical Dame.

Details of the stream will appear on Facebook, Twitter @NewpointP and can be obtained from

Newpoint Players Youth Group has been very generously assisted by:

The Newry Reporter AbbeyAutoline
The Elliott Trainor Partnership Sticky Fingers
The Community Foundation King George VI Awards Volunteers Now
Ashtree Financial
Killowen Distillery

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