WHEN THE BELGIAN CREATORS of A Football Opera went to Hill 16 earlier this summer, they did so with research in mind for an upcoming show on The Dubs.
The left Croke Park in a tizzy. It was not because they were secretly supporting Kildare — Dublin hammered the Lilywhites by 16 points. The creative souls had found a new muse.
“They were enthralled by the passion. The sense of patriotism but tribalism, too, as every village and every town has its own team for communities to get behind,” Fringe Festival producer Aisling Murray told TheScore.ie. “They were fascinated by the history of the ground and of Hill 16; how the fans protested and petitioned to keep the terrace when this state-of-the-art stadium was revamped”
Fair Balls T’Yis, which begins its four-night run this Thursday, is based on a successful Belgian show called ‘U Dikke Ma! A Football Opera’. The show has been adapted for productions in Helsinki and Prague but the Irish version is the first departure from soccer to football.
There is a move away from the expletives-filled songs often heard at soccer stadiums but “culchies” do not escape a slagging by the Dublin supporters and professional actors that make up the 50-strong cast. Audience members can expect to be greeted with a mock-up version of Hill 16 and a cast belting our ‘C’mon You Boys in Blue’ in unison.
A call was put out for Dublin GAA fans to join the cast of actors and several familiar faces from Hill 16 will be involved, including this chap:
Dublin fan Tony Broughan features in Fair Balls T’Yis. INPHO/Morgan Treacy
According to Murray, the Irish version of the show will still feature classic songs from past productions as well as chants and lore from the famous terrace at Croker. She said:
We found out that the gardaí will rarely put a Garda with a ‘culchie’ accent on duty on the Hill during a Dublin match as they would get too much of a slagging… We have some great stories, and great characters involved, aged from six-years-old Kate Finnegan to 82.”
Without giving too much away, Murray also spoke about a dilemma two Dublin fans, an engaged couple, encountered in the 1970s, when they could not afford to attend a vital away game. The result, as the audience will see, is truly a matter of the heart ruling the head. A Dublin GAA love triangle.
As the show finishes on 15 September, the trio of Belgians will return home before Dublin take on Mayo in the All-Ireland football final. “They are devastated to be missing it,” said Murray. “They are mad into the football and may love the hurling even more. They have been asking around to see if there is any way they can watch the finals from Belgium.”
Fair Balls T’Yis takes place in the Samuel Beckett Theatre from 12-15 September.