4 Plays in a Day: If The River is Hidden

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Spoken Word Music Theatre


02/08/2023 18:00 - 19:05


Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre



Cherry Smyth and Craig Jordan-Baker are proud to announce their new performance If the River is Hidden. Based on their book of the same name, If the River is Hidden charts the journey of two writers from the source to the mouth of the Bann, Northern Ireland’s longest river. Through a dialogue of prose and poetry the history, landscape and divisions that have come to define the North are explored and challenged.

With backgrounds from each side of the sectarian divide, Smyth and Jordan-Baker explore their very different relationships with the North to uncover a sense of place and to reshape their own memories and expectations. During the journey, the Bann becomes a metaphor for longing, belonging and letting go of grief. The road north stands not only for the frequent inaccessibility of the river, but for the path of writing and friendship, which creates a flow that does not depend on water or a specific landscape. In both form and content If the River is Hidden explores that hybrid third space beyond Republicanism and Unionism; the threat to the health of the river; and the joy carried by conversation sifted in a beautiful and rapidly changing environment.

Supported by world-class musician, Niamh Varian Barry, this powerful and emotive performance mixes sinuous spoken word and raucous song, along with traditional tunes, blues and disco.

 Blood is a river we step into twice, home in our veins, elsewhere in our arteries, fed by the same breath.

Cherry Smyth is an Irish writer, living in London who has written the following poetry collections; When the Lights Go Up, One Wanted Thing, Test, Orange and Famished. Famished tours as a performance in collaboration with vocalist Lauren Kinsella and composer Ed Bennett. Cherry was nominated as a Fellow for the Royal Society of Literature in 2022 and is also a Hawthornden Fellow. She is Associate Professor in Creative & Critical Writing at the University of Greenwich.

Craig Jordan-Baker has published fiction in New Writing, Text, Firefly Magazine, Potluck and the époque press é-zine. His drama has been widely performed in the UK and he has had work commissioned by institutions such as The National Archives, Brighton Museums and the Theatre Royal Brighton. Craig lives in Brighton and is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton. The Nacullians, Craig’s debut novel, was published by époque press in 2020.

‘If the River is Hidden is unmissable: with every step along the Bann, they take us with them. A poetic performance of love, loss, humour and history, creating a landscape that touches on both the personal and universal. Places and names are familiar to those of us from Ulster ...haunted by headlines and comforted by memories of Tayto lips’ Elizabeth Magill


Gliding from poetry to prose, in language that flexes between plainspoken and gorgeous, laconic and charged, the braided voices of Cherry and Craig switch and mingle, banter and dissolve, as they follow the River Bann. This is a moving and vital work, resonant and ripe for our time.Mary Montague.


‘Smyth and Jordan-Baker’s fluid, intermingled writing trace their honourable journey through a personal/political landscape with heart-breaking honesty and integrity. The kind of writing the world needs.’Pascal O’Loughlin.


This was a very unique and memorable night - a smorgasbord fusing poetry, prose, music, visual stills and a beautiful interplay of three original voices found in word and song. Testament to the three performers was a standing ovation and a steady queue of audience members to purchase If The River Was Hidden after the launch. This must tour!Michael Fisher.