This multidisciplinary play, using words, cinematics, animation, music and VFX, will allow audiences to experience the history of the trial while imagining the lives of the accused. This one-act play about the Islandmagee trial, Witches in Eden, was written by Belfast playwright Olga Fielden in 1948. The gender politics of Fielden’s play, its approach to historical accuracy, and the positioning of the witches as victims prefigure Arthur Millar’s The Crucible (1953). This is a story of murder, magic, the devil, and a community in crisis. It offers a unique glimpse into how the ‘witch hunts’ that claimed over 40,000 lives in Europe played out on Irish shores. Premieres on Halloween, 2023: Riverside Theatre, Coleraine.
The play is performed and produced by staff and students from Ulster’s Cinematic Arts, Drama, Creative Musicianship, History, Music, Sound and Technology, and Screen Production programmes.
Lisa Fitzpatrick studied in Trinity College and University College Dublin prior to completing her PhD at the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama, University of Toronto. She is a Senior Lecturer in Drama, teaching critical theory, dramaturgy, and Irish Theatre, and supervising PhD students in contemporary Irish theatre and post-conflict performance research. Lisa has published extensively on performance and violence, post-conflict theatre, and gender. She has received funding from the British Academy and the Canadian High Commission, and has been an invited speaker at a number of events, including the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL), the Warwick Politics and Performance Network, and the Irish Theatrical Diaspora project.
Shannon Devlin is a social and gender historian of nineteenth-century Ireland. Her research interests lie in the Irish middle classes and middle-class family. Shannon’s research explores the role of kin in social networking, family finances, family reputation and strategy. In 2020, she completed her PhD at Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently developing this research into a monograph. Shannon previously published her research on Irish girls’ education in Women’s History Review and through the Centre for Public History at QUB. In 2022, she was a Fellow at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania undertaking research into the role of siblings in Irish nineteenth-century migration networks. She is a member of the Women’s History Association of Ireland, the Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland, the Irish Association of Professional Historians, and the Royal Historical Society.
Amanda Finch is an early career researcher whose current research explores the relationship between gender, violence and comedy, using contemporary performances of Shakespeare as case studies. Her research interests include feminist and queer theory, gender and social justice, the representation of gendered violence in theatre, and the role of costume in the representation of gender. She has extensive experience as a drama educator and has been designing and creating costumes for six years.
Gerard Gibson is a Lecturer in Screen Production at Ulster University. He has a background in the visual arts and experience as a designer, illustrator and educator. His researches look at how horror stories are conveyed by the spaces, places and things that are used to tell them. Each object and every space and place bring their own set of histories, associations and qualities with them. Horror takes these things and twists them just slightly beyond the familiar making even the most normal things uncanny. Gerard’s studies into the design and meaning of these unreliable materials tells us much about what horror allows us to do and how it challenges the certainties of life and being, uncovering the ways we think about ourselves, the world around us and how we believe our worlds work.
© Copyright Victoria McCollum and Andrew Sneddon 2023