Admittedly I was a little doubtful as to how relevant the Tinderbox theater experience would be for me, but I was very excited about the prospect of travelling to Belfast and the part of me that enjoys theater was at least intrigued about the outing. We students booked a hostel the night before and made plans to stay in Belfast for the weekend, so before our meeting at the arts center we hunted that down (with help from Joe’s iPhone, since none of us had a map) and dropped off our stuff.

The MAC was lovely (and incited feelings of envy among the actors and playwrights in the group; admittedly the 14-year-old ballerina in me was envious of the mirrored wall with the barre and the springy dance floor) and Hanna of the theater company talked to us about the play we’d watched, titled Sign of the Whale, which helped to put it into perspective. I was particularly interested in their mission of only showcasing previously-unperformed plays by new writers; they’re apparently quite successful at it. Some of the talk about “the kernel” wasn’t quite relevant to my own process, because I’ve already been working independently and have a sort of theme to my work already. I think it might be a useful exercise for future work though, especially fiction.

Exploring Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway were definitely inspirational in their own ways; at a pub in Belfast we met a couple of locals who told us some things to see and do in Belfast (and they were quite entertaining besides) and the Giant’s Causeway was just majestic and amazing and inspiring. We took a long bus ride up the coast and saw quit a bit of Ireland’s Antrim Coast.

We spent the majority of Friday evening and Saturday exploring the city, wandering around, taking pictures and just taking it all in. We wandered through a neighborhood on Friday night that was clearly very supportive of the union with Great Britain; there was also a sort of memorial/shrine to the Ulster Volunteer Force and a fair amount of political graffiti throughout the city. We even saw a building tagged “Occupy Belfast.” We spent some time in the Ulster Museum Saturday morning, learning more about the troubles (and seeing 10 of Da Vinci’s lovely pencil drawings, on loan from the Royal Collection). We finished off with lunch at St. George’s Market then some shopping before we caught the bus back to Armagh (I’ve tried to add in a couple photos but I think there are too many people on the internet here at the hostel right now… so maybe I can edit later).