The Global Arts Corps’ second production, Hold Your Tongue, Hold Your Dead, brings together actors from the North of Ireland to explore themes of memory, identity, denial and the disenfranchisement of youth in the aftermath of conflict. It is the collective creation of an ensemble of theatre artists from republican and loyalist backgrounds, who have lived through “The Troubles” and the aftermath of the conflict.


Hold Your Tongue, Hold Your Dead: An Actor’s Perspective, filmed in 2013 (Boston, USA).

“In devising Hold Your Tongue, Hold Your Dead,” notes Global Arts Corps Artistic Director Michael Lessac, “the Irish cast brought their own memories and experiences to the creation of the script. It was not an easy process. Often it was a painful one. But it persevered. The work that has emerged on stage is the product of many battles over the past three years. The struggle came out of an initial suspicion and mistrust that had to be overcome, but through this conflict, we found that the very set of difficulties plaguing the creation of the piece needed to be reflected in the play itself. This recognition led to an exploration of how conflict and denial impact the young generation in Northern Ireland, where the suicide rate amongst youth, and particularly young men, has risen by 64% since peace was declared.”

After developing the script for the production at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annamahkerrig, Ireland, the cast travelled to Boston. There, in collaboration with ArtsEmerson, we spent five weeks incubating the production and presenting it to local audiences. The dialogue following each performance was extraordinary. We found that the production resonated with audience members from a variety of backgrounds. For many, it brought to the surface their experiences of racial segregation and memories of the historic 1976 busing crisis in Boston.

We are now pursuing a three-city American tour for the production to cities divided by histories of racial conflict and enduring segregation.

The short film below documents one of the initial outreach workshops that we conducted during our rehearsal period in Belfast with a local group called the Talent Tribe, which brings together children from diverse religious and socio-economic backgrounds.


A documentary of our work with the Talent Tribe, filmed in 2012 (Belfast, Northern Ireland/North of Ireland).

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Hold Your Tongue, Hold Your Dead Program
“‘Hold Your Tongue’ Speaks Out” by Michael L. McGlathery, The Harvard Crimson. Published: September 30, 2013.