“Scabs” is my first play, which is based on a defining event in Irish history, the 1913 strike and lockout, a class war which tore Dublin city apart and gave birth to the Irish trade union movement. This is the centenary of the lock-out, something which is quite personal to me as I come from a background where trade unions and class loyalty are very important. My grandfather still tells me that “the union is all the working man has,” a line I gave to the hero of my play, Audeon Kelly, in tribute to him.
The centenary of the lockout provoked questions for me. For a start, what were Dublin’s working women doing during the strike and lockout? Why were they so little remembered? I found out about the Irish Women Workers Union (IWWU) and was determined to write a heroine in their memory. Nora Casey is my tribute to all the strong, brave women whose names and faces we have forgotten but whom were so instrumental in both starting the 1913 strike and keeping it going for so long. A much more personal question was, what would I do if I were a striking worker, but I was offered the chance to return to work? I know that I would stand by my principles even it caused me to suffer personally if I were making the decision for me. When you come from a background where trade unions are treated above all as a representation of your loyalty to your fellow workers, you have no respect for “scabs,” or people who return to work during a strike. But when you become responsible for another person, things aren’t quite so simple. The heart of this play isn’t political, but a deeply personal story about how a family comes to realise that their politics are threatening their young daughter’s welfare, perhaps even her survival. She is the reason they want to change the world but the harder they fight to change the world, the more they realise that the only way to ensure her survival may be to give in.
Scabs will premiere as part of 10 Days in Dublin on the 4th July 2013, and will run for three nights on 4th-6th July at 8.30 pm. The venue for the play is the intimite charming theatre in The Pearse Centre, the house where Irish statesman Padraic Pearse was born. It seemed fitting to stage a play about a monumental event in Irish history in this unique venue. Tickets are just €10/8 and are available from http://bit.ly/17RN3im , at the door from 8 pm or from the 10 Days in Dublin festival box office.