herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Fair City's Damien reveals he was bullied as a child

Maclean Burke as Damien in Fair City
Maclean Burke as Damien in Fair City
Maclean Burke in Joe Prop, alongside Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay

Fair City's Maclean Burke, who plays Damien in the soap is revisiting his childhood memories of being bullied for a new play, Joe Prop.

Maclean has teamed up with former Fair City actor Gemma Doorley to create a one-man play which profiles the effects of schoolyard bullying.

"Bullying, especially cyber-bullying is a hot topic and I think this play will really strike a chord with people," Maclean told the Herald.

The story is inspired by Mac's very personal story of bullying as a young boy and his experience first-hand of the difficulties a ten year old can face being bullied.

"I got picked on, I was bullied," he admits.

"I remember one time - my best friend one day came out of school and starting punching me and we ended up having a fight.

"It was so horrible because it came out of nowhere," he continued.

"Later it turned out a former student had come down from the local secondary school and he had told my mate that if he didn't beat me up, he'd beat him up."

However, Maclean insists that bullying doesn't stay in the school yard these days.

Psychological

"It's a hell of a lot worse these days. The sticks and stones stuff is easy but the psychological aspect of cyber bullying can have really awful affects," he said.

"It used to be that when you went home from school, you felt safe but with phones and tablets, kids don't have that sanctuary any more."

Joe Prop is a play that centres on a 12-year-old boy named Joe Kavanagh, who has big dreams about being a front prop for Ireland, but a childhood illness has left him overweight and he is frequently chided by nasty school bullies.

His heartless peers have made a Facebook page called 'Fat Joe Kavanagh' but Joe ultimately has the last laugh, as he finds a rugby position "meant for big guys".

The play is set in Joe's bedroom, where he forgets about the bullies and focuses on being the greatest rugby captain Ireland has ever seen.

The play features voice-over cameos from a host of rugby personalities including Ryle Nugent, Brent Pope and George Hook.

Jo Prop runs at the Smock Alley Theatre from October 27 until November 1 and 10pc of the proceeds will go to Barnardos.

hnews@herald.ie

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