Reality is stranger than fiction.
The Garvagh Wedding was a live soap opera set in Garvagh over three weeks and based around the stories we collected. We would use those stories to write our soap and each episode would work towards a Big Wedding Day in the Forest on 28th March.
The aim was to get as many people in the community involved in whatever way they were comfortable and everyone certainly threw themselves into it. We had shops taking part in episodes where our characters had fittings, others auditioning to sing at the ceremony and Jimmy from Country Needs was even cast as the Father of the Bride. The cast were due to train with the local GAA, schools signed up to make the Bride’s bouquet, to sing, dance, demonstrate karate and act as ushers and bridesmaids on the big day. The Central Bar had offered to host the hen do and had booked live music and were laying on food.
There was a real community involvement and everyone was keen to be involved in the craic.
It was at about this point that global events overtook our soap opera, with the news of the Covid 19 pandemic. We faced a choice to either postpone the project or adapt it. Never one to back down from a challenge we changed the focus to Garvagh as a community and asked what was needed at this time. From that discussion we were asked to provide some light relief and maybe help people stay connected. We used the stories we had been given to create daily comedy sketches, we produced an online virtual guided walk through the forest for those people that would be on lockdown and unable to interact and enjoy their usual routines- such a lifeline particularly to older members of the community. Check out the facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/Garvagh-Wedding-107351924214315/
We also began work on ideas for some kind of isolation theatre that can keep this going. It didn’t end with our big wedding day in the forest but I suppose weddings are all about coming together in celebration and that’s certainly what we did in glorious Garvagh.
Chris Robinson xx