Artists, Organisations

Tinderbox Theatre Company premieres new play exploring racial identity, supported by The National Lottery

23rd April, 2024

I always like the name Marcus, is a new play written and performed by Matthew Sharpe, which will be presented at The MAC from 1-5 May, in collaboration with Tinderbox Theatre Company.

Actor Matthew Sharpe in rehearsals wearing a t-shirt and holding a football.
Pictured is Matthew Sharpe, writer of I always liked the name Marcus, who also acts in the play.

The funny and thought-provoking play, supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, is directed by Patrick J. O’Reilly, and explores the complexities of identity and diversity, drawing inspiration from Matthew Sharpe’s own life experiences.

Watch the video taken at rehearsals below.

Part coming-of-age story and part exploration of racial identity, audiences are invited to follow Marcus on his hilarious and provocative escapades as he embarks on a quest of self-discovery, peeling back the layers of societal expectations to uncover the truth buried deep within himself.

Patrick J O’Reilly, Tinderbox Artistic Director, said, 

“We are thrilled to be presenting this unique but universal tale of personal identity by Matthew Sharpe. Matthew’s script is hilarious, challenging, and provocative. Audiences will be entertained, but they’ll also be provoked to think about our society here in Belfast in a new way. Matthew generously shares his experience of race in Northern Irish society, offering a fresh perspective. We are excited to be collaborating with a dynamic creative team and layering in many different theatre forms to present this visual and aurally dynamic piece for audiences at the MAC.”

The play was initially developed with funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery Commissioning Programme, a scheme which offers arts organisations, across all artforms, the opportunity to create new works of high artistic quality by providing game-changing funding from The National Lottery.

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Drama & Dance Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented, 

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support Tinderbox’s commitment to new and emerging artists like Matthew Sharpe with National Lottery Commissioning Programme funding. The calibre of Matthew’s work, combined with Tinderbox’s expertise in script mentoring, set design and production, have culminated in ‘Marcus’, a timely and original play that deals with identity and racial diversity in NI today. Please go see this at The MAC Belfast; it’s brand new and not to be missed.”

I always like the name Marcus will be performed at The MAC Belfast from 1-5 May 2024, for further information and tickets visit

For details on all funding opportunities visit

About Tinderbox Theatre Company

Tinderbox Theatre Company is a leading arts organisation specialising in contemporary theatre practice in Northern Ireland. For thirty-two years, Tinderbox has championed new writing, producing world-class performances from Northern Irish writers to critical and international acclaim. Tinderbox is a leading player in creative empowerment and contemporary artistic practice for artists, participants and audiences in NI.