A charity production of the hilarious comedy ‘The Nightshift Before Christmas’ has become a labour of love for Coleraine actress turned director Claire Connor Boyd.
The talented north coast performer - who is also a successful life coach - took on the project to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care after she participated in a community drama project where “I just got to witness the joy and exhilaration of people who had never set a toe on a stage before performing”.
“I was working professionally with eight ‘non professional’ community performers in a project called Turf where we were devising and performing their stories. It was so humbling and so truthful and I just loved seeing them get a kick from doing something that I take for granted as a job,” said Claire.
“I was talking about the project with another life coach who noticed that I never once spoke about my role as a professional actor in it - only about how euphoric I felt for them and it was from that conversation that I decided to embark on this play.”
Claire chose to raise funds for Marie Curie as her late grandmother was nursed in her final days by Marie Curie staff, she recently lost an uncle to cancer and she has family members who work for the organisation.
Making the charity project even more poignant for Claire was the sudden death in August of her friend, actress Julie Lewis who co-wrote ‘The Nightshift Before Christmas’ with Caroline Curran.
“The girls were just SO supportive of the project when I asked them if I could use ‘Nightshift’ and they were even offering to do little re-writes for me. It’s just awful that Julie is no longer here.
“The play will really suit the north coast audiences who like a bit of craic. It is set in an A&E on Christmas Eve and is a beautifully written comedy with an element of pathos about it too, you will laugh and cry. It really does explore the circle of life.
“And the group of performers who have come together - Ashley Montgomery, Vicky Hogg, Stevie Black, Philip Reid, Roy Dunn, Martina McAfee, Maxine McAleenon, Jason Clyde and Barbara Cooke - are just fantastic.”
The Nightshift Before Christmas plays in Portrush Town Hall on December 13 and 14 at 8pm. Tickets available now via eventbrite.com