2016 marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, known as "the poets' rebellion", for among their leaders were university scholars of English, history and Irish. The ill-fated revolt lasted six days and ended ignominiously with the rebels rounded up and their leaders sentenced to death. The signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic must have known that the Rising would be crushed, must have dreaded the carnage and death, must have foreseen that, if caught alive, they would themselves be executed. Between 3 and 12 May 1916, the seven signatories were among those executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol. Now 100 years later, eight of Ireland's finest writers remember these revolutionaries in a unique theatre performance. The forgotten figure of Elizabeth O'Farrell - the nurse who delivered the rebels' surrender to the British - is also given a voice. Signatories comprises the artistic responses of Emma Donoghue, Thomas Kilroy, Hugo Hamilton, Frank McGuinness, Rachel Fehily, Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, Marina Carr and Joseph O'Connor to the seven signatories and Nurse O'Farrell.They portray the emotional struggle in this ground-breaking theatrical and literary commemoration of Ireland's turbulent past.
A performance introduction on the staging of the play is given by Director Patrick Mason, and an introduction by Lucy Collins, School of English, Drama and Film, UCD, sets the historical context of the play.
Emma Donoghue: Donoghue was born in Dublin and graduated from UCD with BA in 1990 and received her PhD from the University of Cambridge. She received an honorary DLitt from UCD in 2011. Her first full-length feature film, Room (adapted from her international bestselling novel, shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes), has won her Best Scriptwriting nominations for the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Critics' Choice Awards and the BAFTAs. Playwright, literary historian, novelist and screenwriter, other works include Frog Music (2014), The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (2002), Landing (2007), Slammerkin (2000) and Touchy Subjects (2006). Donoghue writes the monologue for Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell. Thomas Kilroy: Kilroy was born in Callan, Co Kilkenny and graduated from UCD with BA in 1956, HDipEd in 1957 and MA in 1959. He is a prize-winning novelist and playwright. He has received an Irish Times Special Tribute Award for his contribution to theatre and a Pen Ireland Award for Literature. He is Professor Emeritus of Modern English at NUI Galway and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. He is a member of the lrish Academy of Letters, the Royal Society of Literature and Aosdana. His writing includes Death and Resurrection of Mr Roche (1969) and The Big Chapel (1971). Kilroy writes the monologue for Padraig Pearse. Hugo Hamilton: Hamilton is best known for his memoir The Speckled People (2003), which tells his German- lrish story of growing up in Dublin in a 'language war', with an lrish speaking father who forbade the use of English and a German mother who came to Ireland in the aftermath of World War 2. His latest play The Mariner (2014) is an original drama based on the enigmatic figure of his own grandfather. His most recent novel Every Single Minute (2014) is a fictional account of a journey to Berlin which the author made in 2008 with his fellow lrish writer and memoirist, Nuala O Faolain. He is a member of Aosdana and has lectured in Creative Writing at UCD. Hamilton writes the monologue for James Connolly. Frank Mcguinness: McGuinness was born in Buncrana, Co Donegal and graduated from UCD with BA in 1974 and MPhil in 1976. As well as his own works, which include The Factory Girls (1982), Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme (1985), Someone Who'll Watch Over Me (1992), Dolly West's Kitchen (1999) and The Hanging Gardens (2013), he is recognised for a strong record of adapting literary classics, having translated the plays of Racine, Sophocles, Ibsen and Strindberg to critical acclaim. He previously lectured at the University of Ulster and at NUI, Maynooth. A member of Aosdana, Frank McGuinness has been Professor of Creative Writing in UCD since 2007. McGuinness writes the monologue for Eamonn Ceannt. Rachel Fehily: Fehily was born in Dublin and is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, The Kings Inns and received her MA in Creative Writing from UCD in 2014. She has practised as a Barrister and Mediator and is particularly interested in conflict resolution. She had contributed widely to the media on the subjects of law, relationship breakdown, mediation and conflict resolution. Her work includes Split: True Stories of Relationship Breakdown in Ireland (2011), Break Up, Don't Crack Up: A Positive Plan for Your Separation or Divorce (2012) and Managing Litigation for your Business (2013). She recently produced, researched and directed the film project The Descendants: Memory, Representation, Legacy with The Council of the Bar of Ireland as part of the Four Courts 1916 Commemorations. Fehily writes the monologue for Thomas Clarke. Eilis Ni Dhuibhne: Ni Dhuibhne was born in Dublin and graduated from UCD with BA in 1974, MPhil in 1976 and PhD in 1982. She is an Irish novelist and short story writer in both Irish and English. She has taught Creative Writing in UCD, Trinity College, the Faber Academy, the Irish Writers' Centre and other institutions. Her writing includes The Dancers Dancing (1999), The Bray House. (1990), Fox Swallow Scarecrow (2007) and The Shelter of Neighbours (2012). She has been Writer Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin and is currently Writer Fellow at UCD. She is a member of Aosdana. Ni Dhuibhne writes the monologue for Sean McDermott. Marina Carr: Carr was born in Tullamore, Co Offaly and graduated from UCD with BA in 1987 and was conferred with an honorary DLitt in 2011. Her twenty plays include Woman and Scarecrow (2006), Marble (2008), The Cordelia Dream (2008), Low in the Dark (1989), Portia Caughlan (1996), By the Bag of Cats (1998) and Hecuba (2015). A member of Aosdana, she has been Writer-in-Residence at Trinity College, the Abbey Theatre, Princeton University and is currently the first John McGahern Writer-in-Residence in St Patrick's College, Drumcondra and the School of English, DCU. Carr writes the monologue for Thomas MacDonagh. Joseph O'Connor: O'Connor was born in Dublin and graduated from. UCD with BA in 1984 and MA in 1986; he received an honorary DLitt in 2011. He is the author of eight novels including Cowboys and Indians (1991), Star of the Sea (2002), Redemption Falls (2007), Ghost Light (2010) and The Thrill of it All (2014), as well as two collections of short stories, True Believers (1992) and Where Have You Been? (2012), and a number of bestselling works of non-fiction. He has also written radio diaries, film scripts and stage-plays including an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel My Cousin Rachel (2012). His work has won many awards, including the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature, France's Prix Millepages, Italy's Premio Acerbi, an American Library Association Award and the Prix Madeleine Zepter for European Novel of the Year. In 2009 he was the Harman Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Baruch College, City University of New York. In 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick. He is a member of Aosdana. O'Connor writes the monologue for Joseph Mary Plunkett.