WRITER AND performer Michael Harding makes a welcome return to the Town Hall Theatre next week with his powerful and much-acclaimed drama The Tinker’s Curse.
The play was developed in collaboration with Irish Travellers and is based on their real-life experiences. It brings to the stage the character of Mikey Rattigan, a traveller broken by the loss of his child. Tormented by his crimes, he seeks some kind of atonement on the summit of Croagh Patrick where he unfolds his emotionally riveting tale.
The Tinker’s Curse is both funny and sad and offers a rare insight into the joys and sorrows that make up the life of an Irish Traveller. Harding himself plays Rattigan, a man old enough to remember the days when Travellers had a place in the scheme of things, fixing pots and pans. However “plastic killed the Travelling People”, he tells us, and much of their traditions and lore have been lost.
“I wrote The Tinkers’ Curse after spending six months with Travellers in Tullamore, listening to their stories, and recording them,” Harding recalls of the play’s origins. “Eventually I had 30 hours of recordings, and then began the process of taking the best stories and the most poetic language from the tapes to weave into a theatre piece.”
“So what people hear in the play are stories that are true, and are spoken in the words and phrases of Travellers that I came to love and admire over the years for their extraordinary courage, and their ability to tell stories.
“The Tinker’s Curse is a sad story of a brokenhearted man who has lost both his wife and his son, in tragic circumstances. But it is also a play with lots of fun and laughs, and audiences around the country have found it very uplifting.”
Harding has performed the show extensively around the country, garnering rave reviews in the process, with The Sunday Times calling it “electrifying” and The Sunday Independent hailing the “soaring, incandescent strength” of his performance.
Joining Harding onstage is ballad singer Finbar Coady whose songs add considerably to the evening.
“The sight of barrel-top wagons on the side of the road, and families sitting around camp fires is a thing of the past,” Harding observes, “but hopefully The Tinker’s Curse brings all that world back to life on stage, as I tell the story. Because in the end it is just a simple story of tragedy and loss. It could be anybody’s story.”
The Tinker’s Curse is at the Town Hall for two nights only, on Thursday June 9 and Friday 10 at 8pm. Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie