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Scribe crosses line with ‘Fear’

Mitchell's persisted in writing play out of 'responsibility'

It’s a political gesture so extreme that, were scribe Gary Mitchell to have written it in one of his plays, most producers would have told him he had overstepped the imaginable.

Mitchell, the Protestant playwright who late last year was driven from his Belfast, Northern Ireland, home by extremist members of his own community (Variety, Dec. 25-31), is premiering his latest play at Northern Ireland’s best-known nationalist (Catholic) theater company.

“Remnants of Fear,” which opened Aug. 3, was a commission from Dubbeljoint Theater Company, which is located on the nationalist stronghold of Belfast’s Falls Road and whose past works have focused on the struggles and achievements of Northern Ireland’s Catholic communities.

This play is, according to Dubbeljoint, “a chilling indictment of how paramilitaries are manipulating and corrupting Protestant communities” and is being marketed by the company as a means for the nationalist community to “reconsider its preconceptions.”

It is widely believed the attacks on Mitchell’s home last year were carried out by individuals loyal to the Ulster Defense Assn., the paramilitary group whose inner workings Mitchell exposed in his award-winning plays “As the Beast Sleeps,” “In a Little World of Our Own” and “Marching On.”

Mitchell, his now-pregnant wife and young son continue to live in an undisclosed location in Northern Ireland. Calling the treatment of his family “outrageous and contemptible,” he has nonetheless persisted in writing “Remnants” out of what he calls “a responsibility to people who have been intimidated by paramilitaries and who don’t have a stage or a voice and whose only option is to hide in their bedrooms.”

“Remnants of Fear” is being directed by Dubbeljoint’s artistic director, Pam Brighton, best known as the director of the original 1996 Belfast production of what would become megahit “Stones in His Pockets.”

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