Irish theatre’s not just for the West End

Irish theatres not just for the West End

A one-woman show that pays tribute to one of Ireland’s most fearless suffragettes, Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, is coming to London for three special performances.

The Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith, London, will host three showings of the much-anticipated theatre production, which portrays, among other life events and achievements, Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington’s fight for Irish women’s suffrage, her time spent in Mountjoy Prison, her work during Dublin’s 1913 ‘Lockout’ and her harrowing and unforgettable experiences during Ireland’s Easter Rising in April 1916.

Originally produced at The Tabard Theatre in 1987, as a much shorter play, playwright Rosalind Scanlon has expanded the original script to mark the centenary year of women’s suffrage.

Written and directed by Scanlon – who has previously acted as the Creative Director of the Irish Cultural Centre – and performed by Ailis Duff, ‘Sheehy-Skeffington, Reminiscences Of An Irish Suffragette’ pays tribute to Ireland’s great suffragette.

The last time the show toured was in 2016 – to celebrate the centenary of the Easter Rising of 1916 – and the Irish World noted the excellent, convincing performance of Duff. The arrangements, which sees pallets used as a soap box, a court dock and even a prison cell, were also lauded for the inventiveness.

Irish theatres not just for the West End

The lapses in time between scenes are bridged by Hanna singing songs about the suffrage movement and Irish independence.

Sheehy-Skeffington was a figurehead of the suffragette movement in Ireland, a leading feminist, as well a vocal Irish nationalist.

Along with her husband Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, Margaret Cousins and James Cousins, she founded the Irish Women’s Franchise League in 1908 with the aim of obtaining women’s voting rights.

Sheehy-Skeffington was also a founding member of the Irish Women Workers’ Union. Her son, Owen Sheehy-Skeffington, later became a politician and Irish Senator. She even embarked between 1917 and 1923 on a lecture tour of the United States – speaking at hundreds of meetings and events expressing ‘British Militarism’ all the while.

After a trailblazing life of activism, Sheehy-Skeffington died, aged 68, in Dublin, and is today buried with her husband in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Irish theatres not just for the West End
Rosalind Scanlon

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, a granddaughter of Hanna, will do a Q&A following the show on its September 29 showing. It was previously produced at London’s ‘Tabard Theatre’, where it received critical-acclaim.

“The Sheehy-Skeffingtons were remarkable and courageous people and it is with great love and care that Rosalind Scanlon has assembled this powerful portrait,” a Time Out critic writes of the production.

The shows begin on Friday, September 28 and carry through until Sunday, September 30. The matinee commences at 3.00pm while the show kicks off each night at 8pm

Tickets are available now at a price of £12.00. Tickets are available through the Irish Cultural Centre or you can call the office on 020 8563 8232.

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