Presented by dlr Mill Theatre and directed by Kate Canning, Eclipsed by Galway native Patricia Burke Brogan is an award winning play set in a Magdalene laundry during the 1960s.
When the play first premiered 28 years ago, the scandal of Ireland’s Magdalene laundries was only just emerging. According to the dlr Mill Theatre, Eclipsed did much to shed light on the day to day life behind the Magdalene walls and the treatment of the girls and women imprisoned in these places – cruelties witnessed by Burke Brogan herself.
During her summer holidays, the then novice and teacher was sent to the Magdalene laundry in Galway’s Forster Street to help supervise. What she saw shocked her and ultimately led her to leave the order. She has remained an active member of the Catholic Church, but never forgot what she had seen these women endure. The result was Eclipsed.
Starring Rachel O’Connell as Brigit and Laoise Sweeney as Sister Virginia, Burke Brogan’s play highlights the plight of four women who struggled to bear the austerity of their existence and desire to break the shackles of this landmark era of societal repression. Described as poignant, funny, moving and sad, dlr Mill Theatre call Eclipsed a stark reminder of the brutal intolerance of ‘female deviance’ in our country’s not so distant past, as well as a finely crafted journey of friendship, love, hope and survival.
According to Burke Brogan: “I was brought into this huge space with these machines – the noise of the machines, the deafening noise – and then out of the haze I saw these women, young women, old women, and they looked at me like I was another of the people who’d locked them up. It was like I was in Dante’s inferno.”
“I was given the key, so that transferred the authority to me, and I wondered if I should just open the place and let them out. But most of them had no place to go. When I asked the superior why they weren’t let out, she said ‘Oh, if you let them out they’d be back here in no time, pregnant again.”
Eclipsed runs at the dlr Mill Theatre from February 4 – 8. Tickets are €18/€16 and can be purchased from www.milltheatre.ie.