King of East Belfast welcomes audiences back to theatre
Kabosh’s latest production 'The King of East Belfast' welcomed audiences back this weekend for the first indoor theatre performance since lockdown in March.
Directed by Paula McFetridge from Kabosh and written and performed by Stephen Beggs, it tells the story of East Belfast bookmaker Clark Groves. Supported through the Arts Council’s National Lottery funds, the socially distanced performances, will all take place inside a shop unit at Connswater Shopping Centre, the site of the old Belfast Ropeworks Company, where many of Clark’s customers would have worked.
Stephen Beggs explained: “My father-in-law is called Clark Groves and ‘The King of East Belfast’ is based on the true life story of his grandfather, also called Clark Groves. Before gambling was made legal in Northern Ireland, Clark Sr. was a legendary East Belfast bookmaker who strived to be both a successful bookie and a good man. Through his generosity to local people from what he called ‘this deadly business’, it was said that Clark Sr. ‘married and buried them on the Newtownards Road’. Clark’s funeral in 1957 was one of the biggest seen before or since in Dundonald Cemetery as hundreds of people came out to pay their respects and to thank him for his help.
“I’ve been really fascinated by the stories I have heard about Clark Sr. from my family for many years and I’m looking forward to breathing life into a forgotten period in the history of East Belfast.”
The performance is one of dozens events taking part this week as part of the Eastside Arts Festival (6th-16th August). Featuring music, theatre, literature, story-telling, visual art, talks and tours under the theme, Moments of Joy, this year’s events can be enjoyed online from the comfort of your own home, outdoors in person, or in a small number of east Belfast locations as part of a live, socially distanced audience.
For the full festival programme and ticket information visit www.eastsidearts.net. Follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram #ESAFest20
Watch the Arts Council's short video featuring 'The King of East Belfast' and EastSide Arts Festival 2020 at https://youtu.be/B_hVbXwZD1c