The extreme events of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin form the backdrop to a relationship blown apart in Lizzie Nunnery’s latest play with songs, being staged as part of this year’s Liverpool Irish Festival.
To Have to Shoot Irishmen, which comes to the Everyman from October 25-27, has been inspired by real people and real events of a century ago.
It’s Easter morning and Gunshots ring out in the Dublin streets. In her suburban sitting-room Hanna prepares for revolution.
While husband Frank walks through the crowds calling for peace, John walks through his nightmares of the trenches and sees a city soaked in blood.
Meanwhile 18-year-old William fearfully reports to the barracks for duty, determined to serve the British army with honour. But can honour survive the chaos of conflict, and once unleashed can violence ever be contained?
Award-winning Liverpool playwright and songwriter Nunnery says: “I’m a history lover, and about 10 years ago I started reading a lot about the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 and got excited when I came across this story of the Sheehy Skeffingtons.
“Hanna was an early feminist and suffragist and was imprisoned and on hunger strike twice in her life because of her activism for the suffrage movement. She was this incredible woman and I really wanted to tell her story.
“So often women are written out of history and that’s very true of the events of the Easter Rising. There’s so much focus on the heroic men involved and not very much on the heroic women.
“Hanna played an interesting part in that she was friends with the nationalist rebels who marched into town and declared a free Ireland. But she and her husband Frank’s position was that Ireland could be free without bloodshed. They were pacifists and feminists as well as nationalists.
“I think knowing what we know now, that’s a really moving and stirring vision of Ireland.”
The production stars Shameless actor Gerard Kearns as Frank and Elinor Lawless as Hanna, and the designer is LIPA student Rachael Rooney.
To Have to Shoot Irishmen is at the Everyman from October 25-27. Tickets from the website HERE
Photo: the real Frank Sheehy Skeffington