By JAKI McCARRICK
On October 28, the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, announced a programme of ten new plays, Waking the Nation, which will mark the centenary of the Easter Rising in 1916. It was soon noticed that only one of the plays was written by a woman – hence a new movement, #wakingthefeminists, which has had a lot of attention in the media: see articles by Una Mullally, Martina Devlin, Sara Keating and Emer O’Toole. In a feature for the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole refers to the funding (half a million euros) awarded to Waking the Nation by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, stating that “astonishingly, the department admits that at no point did it seek to discover what the money would actually fund. The discussions were about the scale of the project, not its content”.
With Lian Bell and Sarah Durcan at the helm, #wakingthefeminists rallied a number of female artists to speak about parity in the arts at the Abbey Theatre and in Ireland more generally. Chaired by the Labour senator Ivana Bacik, the meeting took place at the theatre on Thursday, and I attended along with more than 500 of Ireland’s artists, writers and theatre-makers . . . .