For greater than 4 many years after her loss of life in 1963, Teresa Deevy’s papers had been saved in a big inexperienced suitcase beneath a mattress within the household dwelling, Panorama, in Waterford metropolis. Since 2011, they’ve resided within the wonderful archive at Maynooth College. In recent times, facilitated by New York-based Mint Theatre’s venture to republish Deevy’s one-act performs, important consideration has turned to her radio drama. Such acts of restoration are interconnected and enabling. Notably, at a latest worldwide convention on Deevy at Waterford Institute of Expertise, the 2 keynote audio system targeted on the radio play Within the Cellar of My Buddy. This reframing of Deevy’s oeuvre is welcome and mandatory. Little identified although she is, her popularity fossilised in the intervening time of her best important success: as a well-liked Abbey playwright, with six performs produced in as a few years. This emphasis on her Abbey profession has unwittingly overshadowed her later life when she courageously embraced new media, and when she engaged with different theatrical areas and communities.
Deevy was born in Waterford on January twenty first, 1894, the youngest of 13 kids in a profitable service provider household. Her father died when she was three years previous and he or she was raised by her mom in a supportive however conservative atmosphere, conscious of sophistication distinctions and anticipated to stick to spiritual and social orthodoxies. She attended the Ursuline Convent Faculty in Waterford earlier than finding out first in UCD after which at UCC. Whereas at college she was identified with Meniere’s illness, an affliction which resulted in her full deafness inside a couple of years. She moved to London to check lip studying and whereas there turned deeply immersed in theatre, deciding to turn out to be a playwright in order that she “would put the form of life we now have in Eire right into a play”.
The unpublished script of Deevy’s first Abbey play, The Reapers, has by no means been recovered. Set in 1923 within the fast aftermath of the Civil Warfare, its material and significance are solely accessible by fragmented commentary and up to date critiques. Throughout its one-week run on the Abbey Theatre in 1930, the critic Con Leventhal in contrast it in a letter to a “Wagner melody”, whereas an unnamed Irish Occasions critic highlighted a strong theme sentence uttered on the finish of the play: “Life have to be lived, not merely accepted.” Concluding with a wedding between the grownup kids of two warring households, The Reapers meditated on the legacy of internecine strife on subsequent generations. The lack of this script reveals a lot concerning the plight of girls’s literary and artistic work, and its occlusion inside Irish cultural historical past.
All through the Thirties, Deevy’s profile remained excessive. Her third Abbey play, Temporal Powers, tied for first place with Paul Vincent Carroll’s Issues which are Caesar’s within the 1932 Aonach Tailteann Dramatic Arts competitors. An mental drama that explored points equivalent to emigration, the Land Annuities disaster and rural poverty, the panel famous that Deevy’s play was “strikingly unique and of advantageous literary high quality”. Her two subsequent performs, Katie Roche and The King of Spain’s Daughter, had been hailed as theatrical triumphs though one critic ominously complained that Katie Roche “appears to be little greater than a intelligent psychological examine of an illegitimate lady”. In recent times, Deevy has been rightly recognised for such feminine protagonists, taking centre stage within the Abbey Theatre at a second when girls had been being pushed to the margins of Irish society. 4 of her six Abbey performs characteristic younger girls grappling with the shortage of life paths accessible to them and Deevy typically hints at shadow experiences past the body of the stage, be it emigration beneath duress or the specter of Magdalene laundries.
Following the banning in 1936 of Seán Ó Faoláin’s novel Fowl Alone, Deevy wrote to The Irish Occasions. Her phrases excoriate the tradition of censorship that had taken maintain: “If, in Eire, we aren’t to be allowed to learn of these whose religion differs from ours – if we aren’t to be allowed to learn any criticism of monks or non secular orders – let that be mentioned. However allow us to have an finish to insults – reducing to those that supply them and to the nation that tolerates such practices… Who’re the censors? By what proper do they maintain workplace? And the way, in case of proved incompetence, can they be eliminated?”
As her popularity grew, Deevy was not with out her detractors and when Ernest Blythe turned inventive director of the Abbey in 1941, he made it clear that his imaginative and prescient was incompatible with hers. Blythe’s rejection of Spouse to James Whelan marked the tip of Deevy’s shut relationship with the Nationwide Theatre. This three-act play foregrounded the plight of a younger widow with a toddler who refuses to be bowed by her circumstances, a lady whose plight revealed the vacancy of official rhetoric about moms not being compelled to work exterior the house. Writing to her good friend Florence Hackett, Deevy famous that “Blythe’s letter when returning it confirmed clearly that he had no use for my work”.
Deeply damage and shaken by her marginalisation, Deevy turned her consideration to radio, a exceptional growth contemplating her deafness. This new know-how gave her entry to an rising mass viewers. She had begun experimenting with the medium previous to her break with the Abbey and he or she continued to seek out artistic success in radio together with her performs subsequently produced by Radio Éireann and the BBC.
Deevy’s household, associates and supporters remained loyal. Deirdre F Brady’s forthcoming quantity on Literary Coteries and the Irish Girls Writers’ Membership (1933-1958) locates her inside that milieu. At a proper dinner within the Hibernian Resort in Dublin in December 1949, practically 80 visitors celebrated her when she was awarded the membership’s prize for e book of the 12 months. Deevy was additionally a member of the Irish Chapter of PEN Worldwide. Regardless of her luminous success on the Abbey within the early Thirties, her extraordinary work for radio from the Thirties till her loss of life in 1963, and important recognition by her friends, Deevy turned more and more impoverished. Occluded inside the canon of Irish writers for a few years, her work has hardly ever been in print.
It was on this spirit of making an attempt to know the lesser-known Deevy that I not too long ago started working by her archive of unpublished tales and performs, incomplete drafts and scraps of writing in notebooks and on free sheets. In doing so I hoped to higher perceive the playwright as a younger lady. The Deevy archive holds three performs recognized as from the interval 1914-1919 (throughout her time in London studying to lipread) and written beneath the pseudonym “DV Goode”. There was some hypothesis that they might have been written by her sister, Josie, with whom she lived in London throughout these years. Assumed to be unfinished and juvenile work by an newbie playwright, these performs languished in a folder and have by no means been printed or produced. Whereas not solely unknown, it was clear that these texts had by no means been carefully scrutinised.
It’s a researcher’s dream to come upon some beforehand unstudied work by their chosen topic. However what occurs then when one stumbles throughout three performs directly? And never her breakthrough debut, The Reapers, however enigmatic and suspect texts beneath a cryptic pseudonym that include acquainted stylistic and linguistic parts whereas being notably completely different in key respects.
DV Goode wrote three performs: The Firstborn; Observe and Principle; and Let Us Stay. These texts are from a a lot later interval than beforehand assumed – from the Thirties or Nineteen Forties. Strikingly, all three have references to motor automobiles, used as symbolic reference factors for modernisation. Two of the performs include critical crashes. In The Firstborn, the plot features a collision that foretells the tip of the Massive Home in Eire, nevertheless it decentres the motion to the local people within the hinterland of the massive property. An atmospheric one-act play, it was written particularly for radio, suggesting it dates from some level after the late Thirties. There are two crashes within the three-act Observe and Principle: one in all these crashes is deadly and precipitates the motion inside the play. This drama explores questions of forgiveness and gender equality inside marriage.
The three-act Let Us Stay is an issue play within the fashion popularised by writers equivalent to George Bernard Shaw. Deevy’s ease with this format was beforehand evidenced in Temporal Powers and it was an intertextual reference to her prize for this play in 1932 that once more revealed the mysterious DV Goode to be writing at a a lot later date than beforehand assumed. As a style, drawback performs dropped at life a urgent social query and aired it by a dialogue of the controversy. Two points are explored and debated on this play: interfaith marriage and the significance for married girls to earn and handle their very own cash. It’s notable that the play concludes with the prolonged households supporting each the Catholic-Protestant marriage and the choice of the engaged lady to proceed to work after the marriage. Set in 1932 as Fianna Fáil prolonged the Marriage Bar, this play’s utopian “Hollywood” ending is in contrast to Deevy’s expressionist masterpieces for the Abbey, though there are resonances with the misplaced play, The Reapers, which concluded with the prospect of a wedding between the youngsters of warring households.
There are numerous eventualities which may clarify the opaque origins of the DV Goode performs and the rationale for utilizing a pseudonym. If one in all Deevy’s sisters was the mysterious DV Goode, it might be intriguing, additional complicating our understanding of girls’s cultural manufacturing and political critique throughout this period. If Teresa Deevy used this pseudonym for these performs, then that raises a special set of questions on some stylistic variations inside the manuscript but in addition her evolution as a feminist mental. Both approach, the gradual work of authentication and attribution now begins.
Jacqui Deevy, Teresa’s grandniece and the executor of her literary property, suggests one motive for utilizing a pen identify: “the subject material of those performs are rooted in household biography, however Tessa’s siblings had been non secular, conservative and scared of scandal. They might have been deeply uneasy and nervous of disrespecting the prevailing social and political mores.” In an period of literary censorship and conservative social values and with few impartial sources of earnings, was the creator of those performs involved with social and monetary vulnerability?
Generally it will probably appear as if girls’s voices had been so submerged that there’s nothing however the silences to excavate. However sometimes there are interventions hiding in plain sight – in a inexperienced suitcase saved beneath a spare mattress or on the stage of the nationwide theatre.