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Martha Breen

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"I first came across the novel Hellfire ten years ago, devouring it and continuing to read it every year. It tells of reformed murderer Lucy Dolan, released from Mountjoy prison, who goes directly to the Hellfire Club in the Dublin mountains, carrying nothing but a sports bag, a few cans, an electric keyboard, and an assault rifle. Lucy has disassociated from her damage, and is returning here to remember. Roaringly furious, she wants to face her fearsome past. 

I am adapting Mia Gallagher's roaringly furious novel “HellFire” into a solo theatre piece, commissioned by Guna Nua Theatre Company, with collaborators Sue Mythen (movement director), Siobhra Quinlan (composer) & Mia Gallagher (author). By adapting the novel for a 21st century stage, by emulsifying the text with movement & music into a multi-disciplinary script, I wish to interrogate how trauma and shame rob agency in women's narratives." 

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Martha Breen is a performer, writer & theatre maker from County Wicklow, and a graduate of the Lir Academy. Martha has been commissioned with support from the Arts Council and Wicklow County Council to adapt the Irish novel “HellFire” by Mia Gallagher into a one-woman show, with the support of Gúna Nua Theatre Company and its producers Paul Meade & Gill McCaw, the author Mia Gallagher, movement director Sue Mythen, and composer Siobhra Quinlan, for a production in 2022. 

"The novel gripped me first in the memory of Lucy’s grandfather, a roaming runaway in the Wicklow mountains, who travels on foot to wherever employment will take him. Her story unwinds from there, and though it spans many years, it centres on "a mass a blood and bones and cravin called Lucy Dolan", finally revealing herself in a world where she for most of her life didn't know the rules. 

I am adapting Mia Gallagher's roaringly furious novel “HellFire” into a solo theatre piece, commissioned by Guna Nua Theatre Company, with collaborators Sue Mythen (movement director), Siobhra Quinlan (composer) & Mia Gallagher (author). By adapting the novel for a 21st century stage, by emulsifying the text with movement & music into a multi-disciplinary script, I wish to interrogate how trauma and shame rob agency in women's narratives. 

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The collaborators will together investigate the memory gaps and unspoken parts of the novel and excavate a parallel story: of a woman, born into a dangerous world, who hates her gender. The violence it perpetuates, shame it instils, hurdles it presents, sexuality it represses. The result will be a stripped-back score for one performer with a keyboard. 

Recent years have shown the universality of Lucy’s experience and the past few months have shone a light on domestic violence. There is now an urgency to telling this story and unflinchingly embodying this. 

This commissioning process is being supported by in-kind workshop space from: Mermaid Arts Centre, Dublin Fringe and Gúna Nua.