A belated New Year to you all and a Happy St Brigid’s Day/Bank Holiday! I was going to write about something different this month but given the day that is in it and to pay tribute to our Patron Saint, I want to take the time to give some female artists that have influenced my work honorable mentions. For international audiences, St Brigid is the Patron Saint of Ireland who is celebrated as the saint of midwives, scholars, and cattle to name a few. She is influenced by Pagan’s celebration of Imbolc translating into ‘in the belly’ indicating a birthing of new life linking it to the emergence of Spring.
It was 2011 in what was IT Sligo at the time when our lecturer handed out scripts of ‘By the Bog of Cats’ by Marina Carr. This needed to be read and picked apart before the next class. I fell in love with the text. I really admired how Carr incorporated ‘Medea’ into a modernized text with such poignancy, grit, and thought-provoking qualities. It was also written in the Midlands dialect which made me feel closer to home while I completed my studies in Sligo. Especially in Carr’s earlier titles, she encaptures the challenges that women face, the influence society plays on oppressed women, flawed women, and the repercussions of dysfunctional homes. I’m yet to read her latest works but my favourites would definitely be ‘By the Bog of Cats’, ‘The Mai’, and ‘Portia Coughlan’.
One of the first films I had seen her in was ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ and was blown away. Her ability to capture the audience is still a mystery to this day. She was incredibly funny too. I mean, how did she do it? I’m currently taking the Introduction to Screen Acting class with Bow Street online and am still figuring out how she enthralled the audience. Her charm? Her presence? Some would say she just had ‘it’. Now there was so much more to Marilyn. She was an advocate for anti-racism, equal pay for actresses and was an extremely intelligent woman which she didn’t get enough credit for. She was a big reader and was said to have written poetry. She also started her own production company in a male-dominated field. This was huge for 1950s Hollywood. By the way, do not watch ‘Blonde’ it’s terrible!
Paula Meehan is an Irish poet and playwright that I honestly just came across quite recently. Her poem ‘The Statue of the Virgin Mary at Granard Speaks’ is one of the poems on the Leaving Cert syllabus this year. It is narrated from the point of view of a Virgin Mary Statue in Granard Co. Longford as the seasons come and go and the prayers ‘fly up like sparks from a bonfire that a blaze a moment, then wink out’. It then narrates the moment a 15-year-old gives birth to a child and their last moments as the statue watches unable to take action. This was Ann Lovett. Although I only read this poem by Meehan, learning that she’s a playwright and a feminist advocate has inspired me to delve into her works further.
Under the influence of these artists and of St Brigid I wish to make waves and be an advocate for change in my work be it on page, stage, or screen. There was of course ‘Match’ and ‘Uniform’ both of which I hope to rewrite with the lessons I’ve learned and new perspectives gained over the last few years. I also hope to embody these and unleash them in my ongoing writing (stay tuned!).
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