Stacey Gregg's Shibboleth is a play about working-class life in Belfast, and the impact of a globalised economy on a city divided both physically and culturally. It was co-commissioned by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and the Goethe-Institut, and first performed during the Dublin Theatre Festival on the Peacock stage at the Abbey Theatre on 7 October 2015.
The play is set in Belfast in the present. A group of construction workers is building an extension to the Peace Wall that separates 'Themens' from 'Usens'. When Polish worker Yuri’s daughter starts having serious problems with her boyfriend, they rally round in support. But good intentions can easily go too far…
In an Afterword to the published script, Gregg writes: 'In 2008 the Abbey Theatre and the Goethe-Institut commissioned me as part of a European-wide response to the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. My subject was the interface barriers that separate communities across our region. Unlike other barriers of international conflict, this wall is generally wanted by the communities around it, restricting movement but not vital supplies, a nuisance to most, an oddity that no one feels strongly enough about to address wholeheartedly. ... Brick by brick by brick by I grew up among the bricks, the sand, the men. Boundaries and no-go zones criss-crossed the landscape of my childhood. ... The play didn’t present itself, but it knew it was a cacophony, chaos and bacon butties and men on a worksite building a wall. I called it Shibboleth, a Hebrew word for words or customs one tribe uses to mark itself apart from others.'
The Abbey Theatre premiere was directed by Hamish Pirie and designed by Paul Keogan. The cast was Piotr Baumann (as Yuri), Rhys Dunlop, Charlie Farrell, Sophie Harkness, Vincent Higgins, Andy Kellegher, Conor MacNeill, Louise Mathews, Jake O’Loughlin, Kerri Quinn and Cara Robinson.