From solicitor to the stage in Southside

Ian Henery with his wife Irene Yoong-Henery, and Chair of Southside, and the Chinese Community Association, Managing Director of Chung Ying, James Wong

 

By day, Ian Henery operates two eponymously named legal firms in the area and is a prominent figure in the district. But outside of working hours, Ian’s passion lies in poetry and play-writing, and it’s the latter that has earnt him a place on Southside’s famous Hippodrome stage.

Ian has recently received a grant from Arts Council England to develop a trilogy of plays cataloguing Chinese family life and sacrifice during significant periods throughout history, beginning with the stories of Chinese Labour Corps in the first World War. The plays will continue into the 1940s, with the final iterance being set in contemporary Britain.

It’s not just the Arts Council backing Ian’s anthology of performances, West Midlands mayor Andy Street has spoken of his support for the project, and the importance of bridging gaps between different communities – something that is very close to Ian’s heart.

As well as his businesses being based in the heart of Chinatown, half of Ian’s family is Chinese with one of his daughters being born in China, giving him a deeper insight in both British and Chinese cultures.

Commenting on the grant, Ian said: “We premiered the first play to 100 invited guests recently and it was fantastically received, but we didn’t have a grant to take it any further – getting funding has always been an issue.

“With the backing of Andy Street, we applied for a grant from Arts Council England. We had to endure a nerve-wracking period of filling out forms and waiting for the result, but when the news came in that we had been successful, I was buzzing!”

Ian is now in the process of making his dreams a reality as he converts his manuscripts into Hippodrome-ready performances.


To keep up to date with the progress of the debut play, keep checking www.enjoysouthside.co.uk where all updates and ticket details will be shared.