An Education in Silence

Heard Julie McClure speak on the radio last week about the experiences of the women in the Stanhope Street Laundry and wrote this poem in response to her story. She and her parents had been told that there were opportunities for young school leavers to gain an education by going to the Stanhope Street ‘training centre’. When she got there, at the age of 13, she was made to work in the laundry for the following three years.

The poem has been published today on Poetry 24. Please do leave a comment as while I’m completely unequal to the task of summing up her experience, I do think it’s an important national issue.

Who Likes Short Shorts?

Last night I was at the launch of a new collection of Irish short plays at the Peacock bar. We managed to catch Mark O’Rowe on his way to the gala opening of his new film Broken and he gave an insightful, encouraging and funny speech about the plays. It was lovely to see the plays published, as I’d worked on most of them when they were presented as public readings on the Peacock stage over the past few years. Each year the Abbey Theatre commissions a group of emerging playwrights to write twenty minute two-handers for us and we present them on the Peacock stage. It’s always a good night; you can’t beat the sense of excitement that accompanies the presentation of new work by new voices. The selection of plays published in Irish Shorts is taken from the 20 Love series of short play readings from 2008 and the Fairer Sex series in 2009. We’re hoping that if there’s a positive enough response to the book, Nick Hern Books will publish a follow up including plays from Something Borrowed in 2010 and Into the Woods in 2011.

Buy this book and make a young writer happy!

Sam Shepard’s Typewriter

My new header is a photo of a typewriter in the Abbey Theatre Literary Department. We got it for Sam Shepard during one of his trips to Dublin a couple of years ago so he could write in his hotel room (he doesn’t do computers!) I had the job of sourcing it, which proved near impossible – our props department have a beautiful array of bashed vintage types, but it’s almost impossible to find ribbons for them. In the end, I found this online and nabbed it. It’s still sitting in the Literary Department with a post-it reading ‘Sam Shepard’s typewriter – Jessica to collect’ in case Sam ever feels inspired on a future trip to Dublin.