from Farquhar to Field Day is a book which explores the artistic and cultural history of Derry City. Written by Nuala McAllister Hart and published by The History Press Ireland, it explores drama and music played out in the city’s theatres and concert halls, from the birth of playwright George Farquhar in 1677 to performances by the Field Day Theatre Company, and the cultural revival of the 1990’s and beyond.

The book is divided into nine chapters. Each chapter focuses on a particular venue where drama and music have been performed and portrays key musicians, playwrights, actors and theatre owners.
No can dispute that the city of Derry has a very distinctive cultural history and even more so with this year 2013 being European City of Culture. This work reflects Derry’s unique position in the cultural history of Ireland. Three centuries of theatre and music are examined in this work and it highlights key figures and turning points in the cultural life of Derry. Documented is the extensively rich diversity of concerts and dramas played out there.

McAllister Hart said that this book has been 18 years in the writing. She embarked on it originally as a PhD project and then discovered that there was so much more to explore. She has had the title in place for 15 years. Music and Theatre she says ‘dovetail together’. And she has dovetailed them very precisely with this end product.

From its earliest beginnings in 1677 where George Farquhar and his life and works are discussed to The Foyle Renaissance, 1980-1995, McAllister Hart leaves no area unturned. She says that she ‘loved doing this book. I could see something happening every year’. And this is evident as you read through this work.

It is written in such a way that one can pop in and out of the book as one so wishes. Each section has so much information but written in a way that it’s almost in point form. You can put it down and go back to it and you never forget where you left off. Each chapter is firmly divided into sections and each section clearly encapsulates the significance of the era and works. The Introduction to the book is its essence and it leaves you wanting to turn to the first chapter immediately.

It’s perhaps advantageous that the author is not from the city. Therefore she could freely choose exactly what she wanted to discuss within the perimeters of from Farquhar to Field Day!

This book is definitely an essential guide to the cultural history of Derry City!