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MIC Celebrates Ireland’s Unsung Female Playwrights and Theatremakers

26 June 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Hynes
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Mary Immaculate College Celebrates Ireland’s Unsung Female Playwrights and Theatremakers

Over 100 theatremakers and academics came together recently at Mary Immaculate College to pay homage to Ireland’s unsung female playwrights.

The three day event, entitled Irish Women Playwrights and Theatremakers, hosted by the Department of Theatre Studies, MIC, looked at women’s overlooked contribution to Irish theatre from the 1700s to today; examining discrimination faced by female playwrights, questioning why, when Irish female playwrights are produced abroad, are they still being ignored at home, and brought attention to plays that deserve to be widely known in Ireland.  


Pictured above (L-R): Dr David Clare, MIC; Carole Quigley, TCD; Dr Deirdre Flynn, UCD; Garry Hynes, Artistic Director, Druid; Ciara Murphy, NUIG and Fergal Hynes, Managing Director, Druid.

Discussions included the works of important Irish female playwrights, leading directors, scenographers, and contemporary devisers. Irish-language Drama, Theatre for Young Audiences, and the intersection between feminist politics and Irish theatre was also probed. 
The findings of a recent study by Waking The Feminists, a movement campaigning for better female representation in the arts, was also presented by its authors.  The data collected on 1,155 productions and on 9,205 individual roles showed that only 28 per cent of works produced over the 10 years were authored by women highlighting the significant and very real gender problem existing in Irish theatre. There will also be a roundtable discussion involving women practitioners from across the island; this will highlight the challenges facing (and the exciting developments involving) women working in Irish theatre today.


Pictured above (L-R): Rachel Andrews, Culture File, Lyric FM; Ciara Conway, theatre writer;  Dr Dorothy Morrissey, lecturer in Drama Education, MIC; and Norma Lowney, theatre practitioner.


The conference also included a rehearsed reading of Teresa Deevy’s one-act masterpiece, The King of Spain’s Daughter,  performed by students from MIC’s BA in Contemporary & Applied Theatre Studies programme and Anne Devlin’s The House, performed by Cork actor/playwright and MIC PhD candidate Aideen Wylde. There was also a performance by Róisín Mc Atamney of Mary Elmes, from Smashing Times Theatre Company’s The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII.
Contributors and attendees at the event included acclaimed playwright Ursula Rani Sarma; Tony award winning director and founder of Druid, Garry Hynes; Artistic Director, Everyman Palace Theatre; Julie Kelleher; Playwright and Dramaturge, Lynda Radley; in addition to highly-regarded academics who have worked in this field for many years such as Dr Cathy Leeney, UCD; Dr Melissa Sihra, TCD and Dr Maria Kurdi, University of Pécs.



Speakers included Dr Cathy Leeny, UCD and Dr Melissa Sihra, TCD.

Speaking after the event Dr David Clare, conference organiser and lecturer in Theatre Studies at MIC; spoke of how hugely inspiring the conference was to all those in attendance.  “The passionate and informed talks emboldened researchers and theatremakers who would like to see greater gender equality in the sector. The event also provided a space of healing and catharsis by giving speakers an opportunity to share their (sometimes painful and always fascinating) experiences, as well as their brilliant research on incredible women from throughout Irish theatre history”


Pictured attending Irish Women Playwrights and Theatremakers, at MIC were L-R: Jean McGlynn, Frontline Stage School, Limerick; Cathy McGlynn, Stage Arts Academy, and Dr Deirdre Flynn, UCD. 

Not one to shy away from these issues earlier this year MIC hosted a colloquium entitled New Horizons: Women in the Irish Film and Television Industries which looked at the ongoing gender equality in the sector.  MIC also hosted a symposium on Irish Women’s Writing, focusing on neglected Irish female writers and genres from the period 1890-1910. 



Irish Women Playwrights and Theatremakers, hosted by the Department of Theatre Studies, MIC, was organised by Dr Fiona McDonagh, Dr David Clare and Aideen Wylde (pictured above).



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