Alumni news: Oona Doherty takes on Belfast’s hardest men with dance

26 Oct 2017

Oona Doherty's new show 'Hard To Be Soft: A Belfast Prayer' is at The Mac as part of Belfast International Arts festival (26-28 Oct). in 'Hard To Be Soft: A Belfast Prayer' Doherty reveals embedded behaviour borne of prejudice and neglect in Northern Irish society, with religion is at it’s heart.

“Decisions about moral and human rights are being made in this country based on economic gain and a religious belief system,” she says. “Issues like homelessness, crime, racism, LGBQ rights, women’s rights, pro-choice and gay marriage need to be discussed in an open, empathetic and factual place.”

So why is Hard To Be Soft a “prayer to Belfast”? “The show uses what I think is the glamour of the church, like the godly and the divine. But it places it in the normal everyday.

“For me the church is like an old school theatre. It’s just that the original message of love has got a bit tainted and contorted along the way. I guess in my own way, I’m trying to own some of that back.”

Doherty trained at London Contemporary Dance School, the University of Ulster and Laban in London. She received the 2016 Dublin Tiger Fringe Award for Best Performance and Hope Hunt was nominated for Best Production. In 2017 it won the Total Theatre Award for Dance at Edinburgh Festival 2017 and Doherty was chosen as one of 20 promising emerging artists selected by the pan-European network Aerowaves. Her latest work Hard To Be Soft: A Belfast Prayer was co-commissioned by Prime Cut Productions, Belfast International Arts Festival, Dublin Dance Festival and the Abbey Theatre. 

Extract taken from The Irish Times.