Irish Women Playwrights and Theatremakers, 8-10 June, MIC, Limerick

The Department of Drama & Theatre Studies, Mary Immaculate College, UL presents:


The “Irish Women Playwrights and Theatremakers” Conference

8-10 June 2017, Room T.1.01 at Mary Immaculate College, UL


When the Abbey Theatre announced its 1916 centenary “Waking the Nation” programme, Irish theatre fans and practitioners were rightly outraged that only one of the ten plays being produced was written by a woman. The outcry over that gender-imbalanced programme led numerous Irish women to take to social media and vent their justified anger. The “Waking the Feminists” (WTF) initiative was born, and this important grassroots movement has done much to highlight the prejudice regularly endured by women working in Irish theatre.

Taking inspiration from WTF and earlier interventions such as “There Are No Irish Women Playwrights!”, scholars based at Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College have decided to mount a conference on 8-10 June 2017 which will highlight the vital, frequently overlooked contributions that women have made to Irish theatrical life from the eighteenth century to the present. The plenary speakers include Co. Clare playwright Ursula Rani Sarma, as well as three highly-regarded academics who have worked in this field for many years: Dr. Cathy Leeney (UCD), Dr. Melissa Sihra (TCD), and Dr. Maria Kurdi (University of Pécs).

The topics that the plenaries and panel speakers have proposed to cover include important Irish playwrights (e.g., Davys, Griffith, Sheridan, Edgeworth, Balfour, Milligan, Gregory, Gore-Booth, Deevy, Manning, ní Ghráda, Reid, Devlin, Carr, Conroy, and numerous others), as well leading directors, scenographers, and contemporary devisers. Irish-language Drama, Theatre for Young Audiences, and the intersection between feminist politics and Irish theatre will also be probed.

In addition to the keynotes and papers, the conference will include rehearsed readings of plays by two Irish women playwrights: one historical (Teresa Deevy) and one contemporary (Dramatist TBC). There will also be a roundtable discussion involving women theatremakers from across the island; this will highlight the challenges facing (and the exciting developments involving) women working in Irish theatre today.

To register for this conference, please email Dr. David Clare ( For additional information regarding the conference, please write to Aideen Wylde (, Dr. Fiona McDonagh (, or Dr. Clare. The full conference fee is €40 (€20 for students and the unwaged).







1pm-2pm: Registration


2pm – 2.15pm: Welcome and Opening Remarks


2.15pm – 4.00pm: PANEL ONE – Seminal Irish Women Playwrights


David Clare (MIC, UL) – “Three Types of Canonical Exclusion: Forgotten Plays by Irish Women from the ‘Long’ Eighteenth Century”


Anna Pilz (UCC) – “Lady Gregory, Playwright: Why Production Histories Matter”
José Lanters (Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA) – “Desperationists and Ineffectuals: Mary Manning’s 1930s Gate Comedies”


Ruud van den Beuken (Radboud Univ., NETHERLANDS) – “‘Three cheers for the Descendancy!’: Middle-Class Dreams and (Dis)illusions in Mary Manning’s Happy Family (1934)”


4.00pm – 4.15pm: Tea and Coffee Break


4.15pm – 6.00pm: PANEL TWO – Underappreciated in Éire


Ciara Conway (Independent Scholar) – “Lemonade to Warmed Chianti: Ria Mooney and the Material Realities for Irish Actresses of the 1930s”


Chris McCormack (NUIG) – “Flashes of Modernity: Tanya Moiseiwitsch’s Designs at the Abbey Theatre, 1936-1939”

Fiona Brennan (Independent Scholar) – “‘A good long look from the outside’: Pauline Maguire and 1950s Ireland.”


6pm – 7pm: PLENARY SESSION – Dr. Cathy Leeney (UCD) – “Waking up to Theatrical Aesthetics: Women’s Way of Looking”





9am – 9.15am: Registration


9.15am – 11am: PANEL THREE – Contemporary Makers, Contemporary Concerns I


Ciara Murphy (NUIG) – “The Female Body as Performance Site: Commemorating Hidden Histories in Radical Irish Performance Practice”


Kate McCarthy (WIT) – “Transitional and Embodied Spaces in The M House (Equinox Theatre Company, 2017)”


Carole Quigley (TCD) – “‘You are just a test dummy I am happy to oblige…’ Deconstructing the Narrative of a Victim/Slut Binary in Contemporary Culture through Caitríona Daly’s Test Dummy


Claire Bracken (Union College, USA) – “The Feminist Energies of Post-Tiger Women’s Drama”


11am – 11.15am: Tea and Coffee Break


11.15am – 1pm: PANEL FOUR – Contemporary Makers, Contemporary Concerns II


Tanya Dean (UU-Magee) – “Money, Mayhem, Moral Outrage: Tracing the Connections between the British Gin Industry and the Establishment of the Magdalene Homes in Jo Egan’s Madame Geneva


Brenda Donohue (TCD) – “Gender Counts! Women and Irish Theatre”


Charlotte McIvor (NUIG) – “Waking the (Intersectional) Feminists: Defining Feminist Theatremaking Today in Intercultural Ireland”


Brenda O’Connell (NUIM) – “’I’ll sing you a song from around the town’: Echoes and Transformations of Samuel Beckett’s Theatre in Amanda Coogan’s Durational Performance Art”

1pm – 2pm: LUNCH


2pm – 3pm: PLENARY SESSION – Interview with Co. Clare playwright Ursula Rani Sarma (conducted by Justine Nakase of NUI Galway)


3pm – 4pm: Theatremakers Roundtable (featuring Cork playwright/actor and MIC PhD candidate Aideen Wylde, as well as other practitioners TBC)


4pm – 4.15pm: Tea and Coffee Break


4.15pm – 6pm: PANEL FIVE – Unjustly Neglected Fields: Irish Language Drama and Theatre for Young Audiences


Fiona McDonagh (MIC, UL) – “Looking at Female Theatre Makers in TYA”
Dorothy Morrissey (MIC, UL) and Fiona McDonagh (MIC, UL) – “Making Theatre and Troubling Gender with Young Children”


Feargal Whelan (UCD) – “Rationalising the Unthinkable: The Reception of Máiréad Ní Ghráda’s An Triail/The Trial


Marianne Ní Chinnéide (NUIG) – “The Irish Language, Waking the Feminists, and Feminist Theatremaking [Exact Title TBC]”


6pm – 7pm: “Counting the Impact: After the WTF Data Report” (Discussion led by Ciara Conway, Tanya Dean, and Brenda Donohue) / Wine Reception




9.00am – 10am: Registration


10am – 11.45am: PANEL SIX – A Turning Point: The 1980s and 1990s

Tricia O’Beirne (NUIG) – “Riding the Second Wave: Feminist Theatre in 1980s Ireland”


Siobhan O’Gorman (Univ. of Lincoln, UK) – “Women, Scenography and Theatre Industry Activism in Ireland of the 1980s”
Katy Hayes (UCD) – “There Are No Irish Women Playwrights!”


11.45am-12pm: Tea and Coffee Break


12pm – 1pm: PLENARY SESSION – Dr. Melissa Sihra (TCD) – “Beyond Token Women: Towards a Matriarchal Lineage from Lady Gregory to Marina Carr”


1pm – 2pm: LUNCH


2pm – 3.45pm: PANEL SEVEN – Important Acts of Recovery: Eva Gore-Booth and Teresa Deevy


Maureen O’Connor (UCC) – “The Transitive Body in Eva Gore-Booth’s The Triumph of Maeve and The Buried Life of Deirdre


Mikyung Park (NUIG) – “‘To Be in One World and To Dream of Another’: The Role of Fantasy in Teresa Deevy’s Katie Roche (1936)”


Una Kealy (WIT) – “Spaces of Confinement: Hebdomadal Contractions in Teresa Deevy’s Wife to James Whelan


Caoilhionn Ní Bheachain (UL) – “‘Rage and Despair’: Teresa Deevy’s Rebellious Women in Context”


3.45pm – 4pm: Tea and Coffee Break


4pm – 5pm: Rehearsed Reading of Teresa Deevy’s The King of Spain’s Daughter (Facilitated by Una Kealy, Kate McCarthy, and Dayna Killian of Waterford IT; Performed by students from MIC’s BA in Contemporary & Applied Theatre Studies [BA CATS] programme) / Rehearsed Reading or Full Performance of a Play by a Contemporary Playwright (Dramatist and Play TBC)


5pm – 6pm: PLENARY SESSION – Dr. Maria Kurdi (Univ. of Pécs, HUNGARY) – “An Ethical Turn in 21st-century Irish plays by Marina Carr, Nancy Harris, Deirdre Kinahan, and Elaine Murphy”


6pm – 6.15pm: Closing Remarks