The Troubles

A Drama System series pitch

[Hillfolk Website]

Nutshell

Working class people struggle to keep their families united in face of discrimination from another culture. Protestants and catholics fight one another to determine the status of Northern Ireland. The protestants are backed by the British government and troops creating an atmosphere of oppression for the catholic community. The characters might be members of an Active Service Unit from the Provisional Irish Republican Army, simple citizens trying to make a difference.

This setting deals with strong religious/cultural discrimination between the people that live in Northern Ireland; this might not be for everybody, as it might acerbate real conflict around your table. Please discuss it with your players if you believe this can happen.

Characters

Pub Owner
Dock Worker
Informant*
Priest
Ulster Defence Regiment soldier (UDR)
Worker representative
Political Organizer – Sinn Fein
Thug
ASU – Quartermaster
Low Level member of government (clerical)

*High Tension

To add some tension, you could allow a player to take on the role of informant to the government/military/other group. If you wish to do so, do not let the players know who is the informant. This will give your game extra tension, and the feeling of a cramped setting. You could also not let anybody know about it, except the player of the informant. This way it will give the players two information to discover during play.

“How could the police have known about our meeting tonight?”

“Who’s the rat?”

Setting

It is the 80’s, tensions run high in Belfast. The peace process fails every other week. Have you any hope for the peace process? Do you believe the solution to the conflict is political? The characters are the working class of Belfast, they have lower end wages and have a strong sense of their community. They are strongly catholic or protestant and hate viscerally the other group. – Do you really care about religious affiliation? Or is this more of a way to differentiate yourself from the Other? For the catholics it stems from years of discrimination, unjust treatment and the fear that they could be detained for any reason. For both community in addition to the primal fear of the Other, they have to content with a high unemployment rate – What do people spend their time on? – Where do the lucky ones work at?, Is it unionized?, a housing crisis – Where do homeless people live? – and random violence that can erupt at any moment. Often only separated by a street or two, catholics and protestants must live with one another, work in the same shops, share the same neighborhood, and hope to see another gloomy day. Do you know people from the other side?

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Troubles
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/troubles
http://www.theguardian.com/Northern_Ireland/flash/0,6189,344683,00.html
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107207/

Themes

Love
Discipline
Trust
Identity
Loyalty
Commitment
Revenge
Betrayal
Paranoia
Forgiveness
Buried Secrets

Tightening the Screws

  • The daughter of one of the players starts dating a boy from the other area.
  • The other group beats up an uninvolved citizen and her kids, will you let it go?
  • The local council allocated an empty house to a single girl of 19 (secretary of a local politician) instead of two homeless families.
  • A pacific march was harassed and attacked by the loyalists and off-duty cops.
  • The other groups bombed water and electrical services blaming you.
  • Some republican prisoners have started a hunger strike, how will you show support? Will you protest against their supporters?
    • What if some of the prisoners die?
  • Weapons coming from Libya/South Africa are arriving next week, how will you handle the transfer and payment? How will you send the weapons to the different groups?
  • British troops are stepping up pressure after the bombing of a club frequented by British soldiers.
  • A cease fire has been declared, will you be the one to break it? How will you respond when taunted to break it?
  • Elections will be held shortly, some advocate disrupting the process. Where do you stand on the issue?

Additional Elements

The setting is really geared for the players to play the roles of Irish nationalists and republicans, I feel this is where the most drama can come from. Since the unionists and loyalists are often backed by the British government, it is easy to use as a plot device to really tighten the screws on the players. I see no reason why your players couldn’t play the loyalists, or even members of both group.

Names

Male Given Names

Female Given Names

Surnames

Jeffrey Margaret Young
William Elizabeth Walker
James Pamela Wardlow
John Aoife Parry
Francis Emily O’Sullivan
Aidan Áine Ryan
Liam Lisa Sweeney
Conor Sorcha MacDermott
Eoghan Isobel O’Rourke
Colin Kathleen Hogan

Places

West Belfast Peace Line
Falls Road
Shankill Road
Short Strand
Cluan Place

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