Written and directed by Johnston, in association with The Amoory Theatre Company, 'Tom' forms part of Antrim and Newtownabbey Council's programme of events to commemorate The Somme.
Thomas McKinney was born in 1893 to a prosperous farming family in Carnmoney, County Antrim. He attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI or 'Inst'), before being sent to the Ballyhaise Agricultural College in Cavan in 1910 to prepare him for his future inheritance - the comfortable house and farm of Sentry Hill.
By the Edwardian era, Sentry Hill was evidence of the prosperity and social status they attained through their successful farming in South Antrim. The McKinneys could not have foreseen the flood of carnage and destruction that would sweep across the European continent in 1914. It was a tide of effects that would be felt across the island of Ireland and the rest of the world. Sentry Hill would not escape untouched as young Tom McKinney, the heir to the farm, joined the Irish Fusiliers in 1914, survived the Battle of the Somme, and died of his injuries on July 19th, 1916. The play is his story, based on his letters and journals.
Philip Johnston PhD teaches at the Dance and Theatre Departments at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before leaving his native Belfast in 1978, where he danced for the Belfast Modern Dance Group under the direction of Helen Lewis, he worked for the Lyric Players Theatre and the Belfast Arts Theatre.
Based in London, his career in dance took him to major dance festivals throughout the world. He is the recipient of many professional awards from the United Kingdom the United States, and Norway. Philip has presented papers at theatre and dance conferences in the United States. His book, The Lost Tribe in the Mirror: Four Playwrights of Northern Ireland was published by Lagan Press in 2009. 'Nina Fonaroff: Life and Art in Dance' was published by Celtic Cat Publishing in 2015.
'Tom' is on Friday 1st July at 7.45pm, with a further performance at The Old Courthouse, Antrim on Saturday 2 July at 7.30pm.
To book tickets, go to the Theatre at the Mill box office or contact The Old Courthouse 028 9446 3113