Drama On Newstalk

Writer/Director Gareth Stack explores a post-nuclear Ireland in his new radio drama

In ‘The Wedding Tree’, we visit a near future Ireland where a terrible nuclear accident has left a volunteer fireman fighting for his life.

The Wedding Tree is an audacious new radio drama, set in the aftermath of an accident at an Irish nuclear power plant. In the wake of the disaster, fire officer Cian Mitchell is confined to hospital. Tormented by his injuries, Cian finds unlikely comfort in the company of Philips, an elderly English patient. Philips, a retired air force officer, delivers a series of interconnected tales drawing on everything from the golden age of Hollywood to Ireland’s historic mistreatment of women. The play explores mortality, storytelling, and the interconnectedness of all things. This is a tensely paced, meditative piece of radio theatre that plays with the medium, moving from drama to storytelling and back again.

The accident that sets up the play serves as an allegory for the danger posed to Ireland by British nuclear power – most especially in the popular imagination by Sellafield, site of the Windscale disaster in October 1957. This disaster, the model for the nuclear accident in the story, spread radioactive contamination across the UK, Ireland and Europe. In the world of the play, Ireland has built her own nuclear power station; a solution to our energy needs often proposed by Irish scientists and politicians, despite its current legal prohibition. Today Ireland meets a fifth of her energy needs from British nuclear energy. We remain at risk from a nuclear disaster whether in Britain, mainland Europe, or the recently proposed Irish Generation IV nuclear station.

Cian Mitchell’s injuries after the disaster are based in the real experiences of victims of radiation poisoning. His surgeries, decline, and ultimate recovery are based on a number of real cases - including the survivors of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and the fire officers and first responders who attended the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Historically, the impact of these incidents has been greatly reduced by the bravery of small numbers of civilian emergency responders who sacrificed their lives and health to prevent the death of millions. Cian Mitchell’s state of mind throughout the play explores the consequences of this kind of sacrifice. While he may have helped prevent the crisis from becoming a humanitarian disaster, Cian finds little comfort in his bravery, as he must face the consequences of his actions on his own body.

Writer / Director Gareth Stack worked with award winning sound designer Brendan Rehill to produce this rich piece of sonic storytelling, which is accompanied by a new theme from Roger Gregg, of Crazy Dog Audio Theatre / The Bee-Loud Glade Cabaret.    

‘The Wedding Tree’ will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm this Saturday 13th August at 7am, and repeated at 10pm.

BROADCAST DETAILS: ‘The Wedding Tree’ is part of the Summer Season of Drama on Newstalk.

LISTEN LIVE ONLINE: ‘The Wedding Tree’ can be listened to live online at: www.newstalk.com

PODCAST: Podcast available on www.newstalk.com after the broadcast.

Also online at: www.garethstack.com

CREDITS: ‘The Wedding Tree’ was written, produced and directed by Gareth Stack, sound design and recording by Brendan Rehill.

The cast were James O’Connor, Aishlinn O’Byrne, William Brady, and Sebastian Connellan. Music by Roger Gregg.

Funded by the Broadcast Authority of Ireland with the television license fee.

Producer Bio:

Gareth Stack is as an independent radio producer – creating documentaries, drama series and packages. He’s a regular arts correspondent for RTE Lyric FM’s Culture File programme; as well as Communications Officer for the Association of Radio Producers Ireland. Gareth is an active member of The Attic, A4 Sounds collective. His work uses sound in a cinematic textural way, to explore unique perspectives and lived experiences. He is currently producing another one off drama for Newstalk, as well as a poetry series for RTE Lyric.