Hard To Be Soft: A Belfast Prayer

Oona Doherty and Prime Cut Productions


Oona Doherty is a dance artist based in Northern Ireland. Though relatively new on the choreography scene, she’s developed a mature choreographic voice. Her work features sparse, powerful movement with a socially conscious edge. As a dancer, she worked with Dutch company T.R.A.S.H., whose punk, art and physical theatre influences made a great impact on her. Doherty has been on associate artist schemes at The MAC Belfast and Lyon’s Maison de la Danse, and she is a Reveal Artist with Prime Cut Productions. Her solo work Hope Hunt won a Total Theatre award at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017.

Hard To Be Soft: A Belfast Prayer looks behind the masks of violence and machismo to the inner lives of Belfast hard men and strong women. Featuring professionals and non-professionals, it presents solos from Doherty herself, a warrior-like hip hop dance group, and a choreographed wrestling match for a male duet. Using rich, sometimes unsettling imagery from Belfast street life and religious ritual, and set inside a massive, gleaming cage, it contrasts shocking power with meditative stillness.  It has been performed in Belfast, Dublin, Paris, Berlin and Lyon.

Hard To Be Soft is in Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

In the press

"A prayer of hope, of petition, or a prayer unanswered, this is a thought provoking and often mesmerising production." The Arts Review

"Choreography seeking the expanse of a city, the difficulties of contemporary life are acknowledged but the city, never condemned, is affectionately loved." Exeunt

Production details

  • Writer

    Oona Doherty
  • Director

    Oona Doherty
  • Designer

    Set and LX Designer: Ciaran Bagnall, Sound and Composition: David Holmes
  • Number of people on stage

  • Number of people in touring company

  • Freight


    9m x 8m white aluminium & steel “cage”. The cage is 6m tall, with 3m drifts. Generally require 10m height clearance.

  • Touring Availability

    From September 2019
  • Scale of venue

    Middle-scale (capacity 400-850)
  • Minimum performance space

    9m x 8m
  • Text-based

    Light (very little or no text)

In Edinburgh

  • Venue

    The Lyceum, Grindlay St, Edinburgh, EH3 9AX
  • Production dates

    21–24 AUGUST
  • Production times

  • Duration

    50 MINS
  • Audience capacity




Available on request and will always be tailored to the particular venue/location of the presentation.

Additional productions

Oona Doherty and Prime Cut are also touring Lady Magma in 2019-20.