Tribute to Teresa Deevy
TX on Thursday, Nov 10th, 2022, at 22:15 on RTÉ One
A new documentary by internationally acclaimed Performance Artist and ISL interpreter Amanda Coogan, who has collaborated with the Dublin Theatre of the Deaf, to create a piece of theatre in honour of Irish Deaf playwright Teresa Deevy, a major 1930s star of the Abbey.
Amanda Coogan goes on an extraordinary journey to discover why a Deaf Irish playwright of powerful works like ‘Possession’, has largely been forgotten. In the 1930s Teresa Deevy was the rising star of the Abbey Theatre with six hit plays performed on its stage. Her portrayal of the lives of many rural Irish women of the time and the choices they faced, did not fit withDe Valera’s “comely maidens dancing at the crossroads”, nor with the vision of Ernest Blythe, the newly appointed artistic director of the Abbey, who rejected her work, and ended her career at the National Theatre. Rather than be silenced, Teresa began to write for the radio and her plays were eagerly awaited every Sunday evening on Radio Eireann.
Amanda is intrigued by this Waterford woman who was deafened in her late teens and sets out to discover more about her, so that she can faithfully create a work that does justice to Teresa’s ballet “Possession”, a reimagining of The Táin from the perspective of Queen Maeve which has never been performed.
Amanda works with Alvean Jones and Lianne Quigley of the Dublin Theatre of the Deaf to create the piece. Collectively they work with students of Theatre in SETU in Waterford and members of the Dublin Theatre of the Deaf, in Dublin. The film features scenes from rehearsal and includes a unique conceptual performance by Amanda as she creates her work in studio.
Amanda meets with the recently appointed Artistic director of the Abbey Caitriona McLaughlin from Donegal, Chris Morash, the Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish writing at TCD, Róisin Berry the Archivist at Maynooth University Library, and Una Kealy and Kate Mc Carthy of SETU in Waterford to discuss Teresa’s work. Teresa’s grandniece Clare Brazil who stayed with Teresa in her flat in Waterloo Road in the 1950s, provides unique insight. She also meets with Jonathan Bank of the Mint Theatre in New York who has revived 3 of Teresa’s plays and believes that the Abbey made a mistake in rejecting her work.
Rehearsals began in Waterford and Dublin in February 2022 and the performance took place at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin in a week in July 2022.
Tribute was produced by Bernadine Carraher, directed by Claire Dix, shot by Andrew Cummins and edited by Cara Holmes.
Produced by Mind the Gap Films for RTÉ One with funding from RTÉ.