Project Description

The Story:

Everyone knows that Ireland is the best little country to give birth in…or is it?

Daughters of the Revolution, by Kate Harris, is a satirical and irreverent play, examining exactly what women have to go through to get from pregnancy to birth. And once you go down the rabbit-hole of the maternity services…who knows what could happen.

We follow our heroine Evelyn Murphy on her epic journey through maternity; as she bravely contends with consultants, her mother, her partner, and the attentions of well-meaning friends.

Evelyn’s story creates a picture of contemporary Ireland in a time of rising birth-rates, uncertain economic prospects, and a health service in crisis.  In a year of celebrating uprisings, and renewed debate around the treatment of women in the Irish Constitution, Daughters of the Revolution asks: how free are women in Ireland when it comes to maternity?

Daughters of the Revolution takes a sardonic look at how women have to perform to meet the complex demands of society.

The Background:

Daughters of the Revolution is an innovative, performance-art based approach to public engagement, with the key aim of bringing women, families, and healthcare professionals together in a creative environment to re-build trust through constructive dialogue around maternity service provision in Ireland.

This response is both timely and necessary. Since the death of Savita Halappanavar in University Hospital Galway in October 2012, the maternity services in Ireland have been in a state of continued crisis. The 8th amendment of the Irish constitution has also come under renewed scrutiny in the aftermath of Savita’s death, and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, especially in light of the ‘Y’ case, has done nothing to halt public disquiet in that area.

The project is based around a witty and fast-paced theatrical play, Daughters of the Revolution, which explores a woman’s journey through maternity care in Ireland. The performance is followed by a facilitated post-show discussion between the audience and a panel of experts. The panel will represent a range of perspectives on maternity in Ireland, including obstetric consultants, midwives, doulas, academics, and service users.

The play, Daughters of the Revolution, reconstructs the experience of hospital-based maternity in an explicitly theatrical context.  The play was developed over four years and is based on the lived-experiences of women who have engaged with the Irish maternity services, and is informed by consultations with midwives, student midwives, and sociologists working in field of maternity policy.

The performance of the play provides a context for the various stakeholders in the Irish maternity services to come together in an informal environment, and through the facilitated post-show discussions work together to identify local priorities and find practical solutions. 

This project is timely in relation to policy changes within maternity service provision. Daughters of the Revolution is a framework for positive public engagement, developing a complimentary foundation of dialogue for the implementation the National Maternity Strategy, the HIQA National Standards 2012, and the recently published HIQA National Maternity Standards.

The writer and director, Kate Harris, has been working for over 10 years with communities, NGOs, and educational organizations to create dialogue and conflict resolution through theatre performance.

The Revolution on tour:

Daughters of the Revolution has been approved by Master Sharon Sheehan for a performance in the Education Centre, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital (CWIUH), for September 14th and 15th 2017.  Research Midwife Paula Barry and former Master Chris Fitzpatrick have been key advocates for this project within the CWIUH.  Denise Lawler, Director of Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin (TCD), is participating in the outreach element of the project. Following on from the performance in CWIUH, Kate Harris will facilitate a series of theatre workshops with midwifery students in TCD for research and practice development.

The project also has the support of the Waterford Healing Arts Trust, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, and the Association for the Improvement of Maternity Services (AIMS) Ireland, and from Local Authority Arts Offices in Galway and Waterford.

As part of Daughters of the Revolution, a series of drama based workshops have been designed to be an initial point of engagement, prior to the local performance of Daughters of the Revolution and then to follow on from the performance and post-show discussions. The drama-based workshops will build on the dialogue established through the initial engagement and performance, with the intention of expanding pathways for continued engagement and response.  The workshops are part of a programme of outreach targeting midwifery and medical students, and will also be used to engage with hard to reach groups within the community.

Following the performance in CWIUH, Daughters of the Revolution will tour in 2017/2018 to locations in proximity to University Hospitals, including Central Arts Waterford (September 16/17 2017), Granary Theatre Cork (January 18-20 2018), Mick Lally Theatre Galway (February 23/24 2018) and finishing at the Belltable Theatre Limerick on March 8th to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018.

Performances in each location will take place in a professional theatre venue, with invitations extended to the local University Hospital, other maternity service providers, and representatives of local maternity groups to participate in the post-show discussions and outreach workshops in the community.



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