Making Lemonade is a play written, directed and acted by Sylvia Beatley. It was played recently in the Loose Ends studios at the Civic Theatre here in Tallaght. Loose Ends is a venue dear to the writer’s heart. It’s smallness, (would it seat fifty?) gives it an intimacy that allows the audience to be part of the performance. It feels as though the play is going on around you. Large theatres are all very fine for the big West End musicals, and of course such shows would not be economically viable without huge audience forking out serious money for tickets.
I met Sylvia Beatley about a week before attending the play. We had coffee and she told me about the play and her motivation for writing it. This is a woman in her thirties, a serious artist of no small ability. She hails from North Clondalkin and writes about that of which she knows. Growing up in a working class area she saw he joy riding, the drug dealing. Making Lemonade is a one hander where Beatley playes “Blade” a twenty-something petty drugs dealer and taker who is having a significant day in his futile life.
This play is wholly realistic. Blade comes across as entirely believable on a stage bare scenery and with few props. While the drama contains humour it is a tragedy both for the protagonist and the milieu he inhabits. Blade’s actions are dictated by events around him. While he sees himself, and is no doubt seen by other, as a swaggerer, as The Man, His life is a pointless one driven by the mayhem of his surroundings.
Sylvia Beatley’s purpose in creating this fine work is to show to the young people of her own social class that gang culture is the road to perdition. Blade and his like are looked up to by kids in certain suburbs. They are seen as role models, God help us. To this Sylvia Beatley is delivering a counter blast, and more power to her for it. She is doing her people some service. As part of this she is pressing South Dublin County Council to build a performance centre in North Clondalkin. She faces an uphill struggle.
The Blade’s of this world are the product of, and can only exist in, social deprivation that is deliberately unacknowledged by the rich elite who run this country both locally and nationally. The fact that gang and gun culture is confined to places like Clondalkin, Tallaght and Ballymun, while absent in the affulent Dalkey’s and Malahides of Dublin is studiously ignored. Adding insult to injury there are the press hacks, mostly, though not exclusively, of the tabloid variety who have built lucrative careers writing in tones of fake moral outrage about the latest goings on of worthless villains.
The council says that the Civic Theatre and Rua Red are sufficient to peoples needs, but it is too distant from Neilstown to be effective. Also, and crucially. the people in the most deprived areas don’t come out to vote in sufficient numbers, so they can be safely ignored.
Keep up the good work Sylvia, there are some of us who do care and will do whatever we can to advance this worthwhile project