Raftery abuse-based play for Abbey debut

On February 4, 2010, in Child Abuse, by Paddy

The Irish Times – Wednesday, February 3, 2010


A NEW piece of documentary theatre, No Escape , based on the Ryan report into institutional child abuse, and compiled by journalist Mary Raftery, has been commissioned by the Abbey Theatre and will be staged in April.

It is part of a series at the Peacock, The Darkest Hour , picking up on a phrase from Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s response to the report, and is described by the theatre as “engaging, thought-provoking and which interrogates an Ireland both past and present”.

The series will include a rehearsed reading of Richard Johnson’s controversial courtroom drama The Evidence I Shall Give , which premièred at the Abbey in 1961. Based on a true case of a 13-year-old girl moved from an orphanage to an industrial school because of alleged indiscipline, Co Kerry District Court Judge Johnson’s play had a long run and made a big impact in the 1960s.

The series finishes with Gerard Mannix Flynn’s compelling play, James X , which will be Flynn’s Abbey debut, from April 29th.

Abbey literary director Aideen Howard said the theatre had looked at ways to respond theatrically to the abuse reports. No Escape will use testimonies from the Ryan report and other material. Raftery is working on the script – “it’s a work in progress, a relatively immediate process in theatre”, says Howard. Róisín McBrinn will direct and the show is due to open on April 14th.


6 Responses to “Raftery abuse-based play for Abbey debut”

  1. Raymond says:

    Thank you Hanora.

    You will see me at the march, and here in the meantime, to assist and support you in any way you see fit.


  2. Hanora Brennan says:

    Hi Raymond,

    We’ve got a graphic designer doing the posters for us. We intend to flood the airwaves about 10 days prior to the march and in the meantime, we’re networking like mad! A survivor in Australia has sent out 13,000 emails on our behalf. We’re calling in credits we are owed and the groundswell of support is astonishing!

    Hope to see you there?

  3. Raymond says:


    I would like to see the whole nation turn up on March 24, to protest at our Leaders, to express their Outrage and to show their SUPPORT and SOLIDARITY (even at this very late date!) for the Victims. I believe that there is NO ACCOUNT MORE IMPORTANT in the land, than that of the Victims and their due Compensation, to be settled. Until this is done, I consider every cent TAINTED. So how can we achieve this massive effort? Should a CAMPAIGN be started; a Poster be designed and prepared (that we can print here and distribute); is there an IDEAL time to do this; one, two, three or four weeks before the March? Any ideas.


    This is indeed a wonderful and welcome initiative. The view had been put out, that the Art world might find a way to HELP in the aftermath of the Reports, and this is now happening. It is all the better, that the Writers/Artists involved carry with them and bring the MOST CREDIBILITY POSSIBLE. Perhaps Mannix Flynn will give us his play HIMSELF again. And Mary Raftery will SPEAK as well. These will be momentous days at the Abbey; Searchlights for these dark corners……Beacons for the Future. I hope that many Victims will find them very CATHARTIC. Yet others might choose to stay well-away from these horrendous Truths. But just as I am concerned that the PUBLIC participates in next month march, I hope that THOUSANDS will flock to the Abbey to see these plays and will be ENCOURAGED to do so. And so, for all these reasons, I would like to see these plays OFFERED FOR FREE to everybody, CHILDREN INCLUDED. The authors, actors and the Abbey should be paid from the GOVERNMENT who should offer it to the Irish People as ATONEMENT THERAPY HEALING LESSON and not least SUPPORT FOR THE VICTIMS.

  4. Martha says:

    I’m really looking forward to this play of Mary Raftery’s. She’s one of the best, most articulate campaigners we have, so it should be good. NB, the book she wrote with Eoin O’Sullivan SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN is brilliant (thoroughly researched) and it should be required reading on the school curriculum!

  5. Hanora Brennan says:

    Should we insist that the three B’s attend? Brian, Batty and Biffo? Perhaps Tomato Woods should also show his face and remind himself of the fact that he sold us down the river for the sake of mere crumbs from the Boss’s table!

  6. barry clifford phone: 0877511113 says:

    Our means to an end can only be achieved if we now stand together. As I write there are those still trying to salvage a way out of circumstances that they created by having another meeting with the HSE to continue funding the lifestyle they have become accustomed to. They hope to get richer still while the vast majority of survivors have become a lot poorer as a result, and survivor groups still have not answered questions either when it comes to transparency or accountability. We must remain focused for this is not a local issue when it comes to survivors but a national one. This is a problem to progress but not an insurmountable one. Yet for all survivors we must keep our eyes on the prize.
    The prize is simply: reflective compensation for our shared pain.
    WE may even get what we want but at the very least it will be a compromise with great progress. What we have in real terms so far is nothing less than a down payment along with a promissory note that has never been called in; until now.
    The end game will be all trust funds including education funds to be liquidized into cash assets and handed over to survivors, whether they be already in cash or buildings, football fields, church’s, and other properties.Existing services to continue as a right not as an award, or an expectation.
    With this, a re-visit to awards already given individually in light of how low the awards were, and of those not given at all to other religious denominations like protestants and others along with the Magdalene’s.
    When it is all over and we leave this mortal coil before the end game, any division or share of assets will be bequeathed to our loved ones or the bills we leave behind. This is a much bigger prize than the crumbs than we were given which was just short of nothing.
    One memorial idea that was suggested to me was one where we could have one of the old institutions re- created as a permanent living tribute to victims, both men and women, and those that carried disabilities. To cover the mosaic of personalities and religions that they touched, and carry on one of it’s walls the names of all those that passed through the institutions of Ireland. To keep a book of survivors stories encompassed in a few personalized lines that would say a lot more. It will be there to remember you

    Barry Clifford
    Email: bgclifford@iol.ie
    Ph: 0877511113
    Password; do something!
    For others: come on home………..

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