PRISON NOTEBOOKS – PRESS RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE

DMAPP* in association with an Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk

presents

PRISON NOTEBOOKS

based on the Civil War gaol journals of DOROTHY MACARDLE

performed by Sharon McArdle

directed by Declan Gorman

choreographed by Ella Clarke 

with songs by Sophie Coyle

Basement Gallery, An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk.

15th, 16th & 17th September 2022 at 7.30 pm

(and subsequent performances as mentioned below)

Dorothy Macardle was an outstanding Irish woman of the 20th century whose legacy and achievements are coming only now to wider public attention. She was a novelist, playwright, Hollywood screenwriter, historian and pioneering human rights campaigner.

Daughter of Sir Thomas Macardle, founder of the Macardle Moore brewing enterprise in Dundalk, she rejected her family’s imperial values and became – in her own words – “an unrepentant propagandist” on behalf of the Irish Republican cause. She was already an established Abbey playwright when she was imprisoned without trial for her Anti-Treaty propagandist activities in 1922. Upon her arrest, her literary manuscripts and private papers were maliciously burned on the street by Free State soldiers.

In later life, her original playscripts were part-damaged in the Abbey fire of 1961. Upon her death, her brother burned most of her remaining papers.  So much memory of Dorothy is thus obliterated even though in her lifetime she published a significant history and a number of Gothic novels one of which became a major Hollywood film, while also distinguishing herself as a broadcaster and laterally a human rights rapporteur.

In prison in 1922-23 she kept a series of six handwritten diaries, three of which survived and were found in the DeValera papers held by the Irish Jesuits and now in the UCD archive. Sharon McArdle has painstakingly transcribed these diaries (over 50,000 words), and this work is due to be published soon by UCD Press. Unique in gaol journaling, Dorothy’s diaries include accounts of dreams, nightmares and uncanny future visions as well as moving testimony of deprivation, loneliness and hunger strikes among her fellow women detainees.

The prison diaries have now been adapted into a solo theatre performance by Sharon McArdle and writer/director Declan Gorman. They reveal Dorothy not just as a committed political thinker but a visionary artist, whose connection to the uncanny, and meditations on time, trauma and loss place her among the literary innovators of the early 20th century. Warm, humorous portraits of fellow women prisoners, tales of ghostly apparitions and devastating accounts of deprivation and violation blend with dreamscapes and paranormal episodes in this original performance which premieres at An Táin Arts Centre after almost five years of archive research and workshop exploration.

 The Dundalk shows will be presented in the intimate and confined basement workshop space (off the gallery) in An Táin. A private performance is also scheduled at Kilmainham Prison on Nov 22nd, for historians and scholars who have engaged with the artists’ research over the past five years. It is hoped to have two public showings at Smock Alley Theatre on November 15th and 16th.

Seating strictly limited. Booking essential.

Research and development of this work have been made possible with the support of the Arts Council (Theatre Projects Award); Create Louth – the Arts Service of Louth Local Authorities; Fingal Arts Office; Bank of Ireland Arts Awards and Dublin City University.  The artists wish to acknowledge the encouragement given in the early stages of their researches by the Dorothy Macardle Society of Dundalk as well as the constant support of An Táin Arts Centre.

DMAPP is acronym for the Dorothy Macardle Archive and Performance Project. Other upcoming work includes a Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and RTÉ funded radio documentary (with Lyric FM) to be broadcast on November 13th, and a short film in collaboration with An Táin film artist in residence Colm Mullen (release date to be announced).

Enquiries to DECLAN GORMAN – Contact details on http://www.declangorman.com

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