Based on oral history from psychiatric nurses from around the country, The Bell Room is a performance installation that examines the job of caring as told by those on the frontline. Upstate Theatre Project, in collaboration with award-winning director Louise Lowe and the community of Ardee, has developed an immersive historical experience exploring health care in 20th Century Ireland. The Bell Room will be performed from 28 April to 2 May at Barlow House as part of Drogheda Arts Festival

‘We worked with participants for over six months, examining their attitudes to being at the frontline of the mental health care profession over the last sixty-five years. We decided to re-install the bell room in Barlow House, as remembered by a variety of mental health professionals, spanning their decades of service. This bell room is special as it consists of an amalgamation of memories. It is made up of the furniture and decoration and items as remembered across many of the interviews. We invite you to come inside, enjoy some tea and toast, lie down and relax inside your own immersive experience in the bell room.’ – Louise Lowe

‘All bell rooms were different. We took it in turns to sleep there… everyone had to do it. It was a small square room, the end room just off the wards. You could be called in the middle of the night…  In my mind it was always the deepest, darkest winter’s morning in the bell room – tea and toast and cigarettes. There was a small bed and a chair and a locker. There was a picture of the sacred heart and a radio. Later,  I remember a digital clock… big Tom playing requests, sent from the payphone in reception…  Radio Luxemburg late at night. Smoking in bed, listening to the shipping forecast… I don’t remember a bell but there must have been one.’

We invite you to our room within a room, to step into another time and place, and to revisit recent history through a soundscape performance by members of the local community.

The Bell Room
DATE : Thursday 28 April – Monday 2 May
VENUE : Barlow House
TIMES : 28-29 April, 7-9.40pm | 30 April – 1 May, 2-7.40pm
TEL : 041 983394
Duration 20 minutes and the performance is restricted to an audience of one.

Upstate Theatre Project is a community-engaged performing arts organisation adhering to collective and collaborative approaches in keeping with principles of cultural democracy. Through their work, Upstate advocates for social change and challenging audience’s pre-conceptions of who can shape the world around us.  


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