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

The “Irish Women Playwrights and Theatremakers” Conference

8-10 June 2017, TARA Building 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, Jones, 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 performances of plays by two Irish women playwrights: one historical (Teresa Deevy) and one contemporary (Anne Devlin).There will also be a special performance of Mary Elmes, one of the monologues from Smashing Times Theatre Company’s The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII. Finally, there will be 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 (david.clare@mic.ul.ie). For additional information regarding the conference, please write to Aideen Wylde (aideen.wylde@mic.ul.ie), Dr. Fiona McDonagh (fiona.mcdonagh@mic.ul.ie), or Dr. Clare. The full conference fee is €40 (€20 for students and the unwaged).

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