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Friday 15 December 2017

Rugby play tackles bullies

Actor Maclean Burke performs in Joe Prop
Actor Maclean Burke performs in Joe Prop

Michael Staines

A NEW one-man play detailing a young boy's imaginative struggle against schoolyard bullying is set to tour the country in aid of Barnardos children's charity.

'Joe Prop' is set in the bedroom of 12-year old Joe Kavanagh as he imagines a world where he can leave behind his bullies and illness to become the greatest tight head prop in world rugby.

His imaginary on-field heroics are solely witnessed by his best friend and confidant, a large bear known only as 'Teddy'.

Writer Gemma Doorly said the play is based on the experience of a friend who was bullied in school for being overweight, only to find solace on the school rugby team.

She said that there seems to be a huge amount of bullying in schools, and social media seems to be making things worse.

"I think the message I'm trying to get across is, don't give in to bullies, find your own way, be yourself and everything will work out OK," she said.

The show stars Fair City's Maclean Burke in a moving and hugely energetic performance with voice over cameos from a host of rugby personalities.

And 10pc of all ticket sales will be donated to Barnardos as will all proceeds from the opening night at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, on October 27 and closing night at the Axis, Ballymun on December 12.

The tour runs nationwide from September 6 to February 28 and tickets are available at

Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay said the lesson of the story is that bullying does not have to define a person.

"When Joe talks about being bullied, I still get a lump in my throat. There is a truth in everything he does on that stage," he said.

"He just captures what it is like to be a kid afraid."

Irish Independent

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