Belfast Girls, by Jaki McCarrick, made its West Coast Premiere in the US on Thursday, November 17th 2017. The play, which is about the female experience of the Irish Famine but is also an allegory of the 2008 Irish banking crisis, was developed at the National Theatre Studio, London in 2012, and then shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the 2014 BBC Tony Doyle Award. Chicago’s Artemisia Theater gave the play its US premiere in 2015, where it was the Windy City Times’ Critics’ Pick.
Corrib Theatre’s Artistic Director Gemma Whelan directs this production of Belfast Girls. Corrib is one of the most respected theatres in Portland Oregon and regularly premieres new work. In a recent interview with Broadway World Gemma said:
“I was moved by this play, because it depicted a group of high-spirited women who come to realize that the powers-that-be in their country have spat them out; it resonated with recent events in Ireland and the U.S., such as the financial collapse, which bailed out big banks and corporations, while scapegoating the less powerful. It continues to have resonance in the daily news as the U.S. powers-that-be attempt to shape immigration laws that reject certain “undesirable” applicants, and privilege others.” She continues, “We’re thrilled that the playwright, Jaki McCarrick is coming over from Ireland for opening night. It’s a testament to Corrib’s growing visibility as a forum for new Irish plays, and for works written by women and with strong female roles.”
Belfast Girls opened at The Shaking The Tree Theatre on November 17th 2017 and ran for four weeks. This production marks the play’s fifth international production:
The play has also just had a successful run in Pittsburgh, where it received fantastic reviews, such as this from “Pittsburgh in the Round”:
“A terrific ensemble of five young women carries this charming, funny, dark, and thoughtful two-act play by Jaki McCarrick, one of Ireland’s literary stars. Historically, the five represent some 4,000 young women who were shipped to Australia to provide wives to the predominantly male population there. The formal program was designed to reduce the workhouse populations and provide escape from the devastation of Ireland’s four-year potato famine (1845-49). The solution of shipping young women out conjures Ebenezer Scrooge’s suggestion that those who would avoid the workhouse might simply die to decrease the surplus population.”