Our Turn by Niall Murphy
Lights up. Three people are sitting on chairs facing the audience, upstage, in a formation that appears to be a car. MAN, 60s, is holding a steering wheel. WOMAN, 40s sits next to him. GIRL, 14, sits behind.
We hear the sound effects of a car motor and see the moving conveyor belt of a road projected in front of them.
Girl: Was that not our turn?
Man: No no. This is the way we’ve always gone.
Woman: (To MAN) God forbid you’d give anything new a go.
Man: Excuse me!
He pauses, then nods towards an imaginary dashboard.
Man: Sure I’ve a Bluetooth stereo, don’t I?
MAN and GIRL laugh.
The lights go down. We hear a thud.
The lights come up. The ‘car’ has moved downstage, along the projected road. WOMAN fans herself with a folded map.
Girl: Was that not our turn?
MAN nods downstage.
Man: Ah… this way’s better. More… reliable.
WOMAN turns to GIRL.
Woman: It is easier, this way. But we’ll turn off soon, don’t worry.
Girl takes a phone out of her pocket, and starts tapping the screen.
Girl: The maps say to turn off as soon as possible.
Man: Hah! Don’t mind them maps!
Woman: I am sweltering.
GIRL looks out the window, head in her hands, and sighs.
Girl: All the signs are saying turn off now.
Woman: I know love, we just need to go a bit further, and then we’ll turn off.
Lights go down. Thud.
Lights up again. The ‘car’ has moved further downstage.
Man: Going to pull in up here.
MAN nods downstage.
Woman: What for?
Lights go down. Thud.
Lights up. The car is closer to the edge of the stage, but MAN is gone. They’re static and the road isn’t moving.
Girl: Is he coming back?
WOMAN looks across the driver’s seat through the imaginary window, worried expression on her face. She pauses, then scoots across to the driver’s seat and picks up the steering wheel. We hear the engine, and the road projection begins to move.
Girl: Are we going on without him?
WOMAN doesn’t answer.
Lights go down. Thud.
Lights up. The car is nearing edge of the stage. WOMAN is still driving. GIRL sits in passenger seat.
Girl: (In a resigned tone, barely looking up) I think that was our turn.
Woman: I know. I’m sorry, okay? It’s not that easy. We don’t know where any of these turns go!
Girl: (Sitting up, annoyed, pointing downstage) And do we know where this one goes? Where it ends?
Woman doesn’t answer.
Girl: Are you going to get out somewhere along here, like he did?
WOMAN doesn’t respond immediately, sighs and answers quietly.
Woman: I don’t know.
Girl: Okay. So if your stop is along here, you can just… hop out. And I’ll head on and just… hope we haven’t missed the last turn.
Lights go down. Thud.
Lights up. We hear a swirling wind. The four seats that make up the car are right at the edge of the stage. WOMAN and GIRL are now standing either side of the car, at the edge of the stage. They both look out, hands over eyes, towards the audience.
After a time, they look at each other for a moment. Slowly, they walk around behind the car, and stand facing each other again. WOMAN gives GIRL a set of keys. GIRL looks at them in her hand. Then, they each slowly walk back around to the opposite sides of the car, and get in.
GIRL picks up the steering wheel.
Niall is a writer of short stories, advertising copy, one (tiny) play, and many, many emails. When not writing or – let’s be honest – staring into space, he enjoys a dip in the sea and watching the birds in his garden. He lives in Glenageary, Co. Dublin with his wife, Ali.
Big Little Changes By Sarah-Jane Scott
Two people on a date. He eats chicken wings very enthusiastically. She eats her meal at normal speed.
HIM What do you mean, you don’t drive?
HER I just don’t.
HIM How do you get around?
HER We’re in Dublin.
HIM Yeah but like, do you get the bus?
HER Sometimes, I walk.
HER You said you work in town?
HIM City centre.
HER And you’re from Irishtown?
HER You drive in every day?
HER Is that not a bit…
HIM I don’t have time to be hanging around at bus stops. Busy man, you know?
He licks sauce off his fingers.
HIM I haven’t actually got the bus since fifth year. Only tools got the bus from fifth year. And girls.
HER Why were they tools?
HIM Don’t know.
HER So how did you get to school?
HIM I cycled.
HER I cycle!
HIM I wouldn’t now. Mad dangerous. Not enough room on the roads.
HER I think adequate space needs to be made for all road users.
HIM It’s not really as simple as that though, is it?
He sucks a wing dry.
Do you want one?
HER I’m vegan.
HIM I thought you ordered steak?
HER Broccoli steak.
HER It’s broccoli cooked like a steak. Do you want to try?
HIM You’re grand.
HER Have you ever tried cauliflower wings?
HER They taste just like real wings.
HIM Is that like vegan cheese?
HIM You call it cheese but it’s not. I get you have to believe that it is, because life without cheese would be grim.
HER I like vegan cheese.
HIM Or vegan-aise…It’s a spread, so just call it a spread.
Sorry. All that clean-eating Instagram crap drives me daft.
HER It’s more about climate change for me.
HIM Making women feel awful.
HER They are two very different things.
HIM This is responsibly sourced meat. I’m doing my bit. I just don’t go on about it.
HIM A lot of your vegan stuff is imported, which isn’t doing much for your carbon footprint, is it?
HER I try to eat locally and in season.
HIM Is that Dublin Bay quinoa, so?
HER I said I try to.
They stop eating.
HIM I might just get the bill.
HER I’ll revolut you half.
HIM Look, I wasn’t trying to upset you there.
HER It’s fine.
HIM My sister was obsessed with those wellness influencers and she ended up not very well from it.
HER Oh. I’m sorry.
HIM I know they’re not the same thing.
I’m just nervous. Talking crap.
HER Sure that’s what first dates are full of.
HIM All I was thinking about was, why did I order wings when I can’t wear my napkin like a bib?
HER I’m not upset.
He nods and goes.
She watches him leave and then looks at the wings. She picks one up, eats it, then takes another loaded in blue cheese and closing her eyes, devours it. When she opens them, he is standing on front of her.
HIM Forgot my card.
HER I’ve only been vegan for two weeks. It’s what I want, but I’m finding today really hard.
HIM I know I need to stop driving everywhere, but Dublin bus is a mystery, I’m too scared to cycle and I’m mortified about it.
Do you fancy another wine?
He smiles. She goes for another wing, stops, decides against it and smiles back delighted with herself.
Sarah-Jane is a writer and actor. Her play Appropriate (Show In A Bag 2018) has toured extensively (Winner Lustrum Award Edinburgh Fringe 2019, Spirit of the Festival Award 1st Irish Festival NYC 2020). She is currently a Six In The Attic Artist with The Irish Theatre Institute and is under commission with An Grianan and The Town Hall Theatres.
Twitter and Instagram: @sazzyjayscott
Turf Smoke by Conall Ó Beoláin
The front room of a farm house in County Sligo, at night. Three siblings in their 40s/50s have gathered for the funeral of their elderly father.
Sheila is looking through an old notebook. Eamonn stares into space. Pat enters with a bucket of turf and some cipíns, he sets to work at the fireplace.
Sheila: Oh, come on Pat, it’s too late to put a fire down.
Eamonn: That hasn’t been lit in ages, you’ll smoke the place out.
Pat: You’re the one that was cold.
Sheila: I don’t want to smell of smoke tomorrow, Pat.
Pat: Níl aon tinteán mar do….
Eamonn: Oh don’t start that nonsense now.
Pat: What? Dad always had a good fire down in here.
Eamonn: (Shaking his head) Carting in and out buckets of turf.
Pat: It kept you warm when you were a babby.
Eamonn: An awful waste of time!
Sheila: That’s not true.
Sheila: It’s what made Dad happy. Making sure Mam had a good fire in the range for baking.
Pat: And a neat stack of turf saved for the winter.
Eamonn: Turf!? Don’t start. All those hours we spent on the bog, oh my God!
Pat: For all the hours you spent there.
Eamonn: I grew a bit of sense.
Sheila: He kept the old tractor running, just for those few months in the summer.
Eamonn: When he could have bought a quad.
Sheila: But he loved fixing things and…..tinkering around. Dropping down to Connor’s garage for a chat.
Pat: (turning to the room) I was talking to Patsy Freyne. He said they’ll use the old hearse tomorrow.
Eamonn: The Mercedes?
Pat: Yeah. Remember when they got it new? “2020-SO-20” - Patsy senior was so proud of that number plate!
Sheila: Mam’s last journey was in that hearse.
(The room falls into silence, as they reflect)
Eamonn: It must be the last petrol engine on the go around here?
Pat: Now, she’s away! (The fire begins to blaze).
Sheila: This one might suit. (An entry in the notebook)
Pat: There was always a grand draw in that chimney.
Eamonn: You’ll be lucky if we don’t get reported.
Eamonn: Turf smoke!
Pat: What are they going to do? Send the Gardaí out?
Eamonn: You better not tell your own children, they won’t be too pleased.
Pat: What do you mean?
Eamonn: Your Saoirse is a real eco-warrior.
Eamonn: She can’t believe you still eat meat.
Pat: I’ll eat what I bloody well like!
Eamonn: If she finds out you were burning turf…
Sheila: For God’s sake will ye stop! On the night that’s in it! What would Dad think?
(The glow from the fire grows. Sheila leafs through the notebook.)
Sheila: Listen to this one:
Pat: He said no eulogy, Sheila.
Eamonn: Why not?
Pat: He hated all that ………..plámás!
Sheila: Well, I’d like to read one of his own poems. At the end of the mass.
Pat: I dunno.
Eamonn: It can’t do any harm.
Sheila: It’s one of the last things he wrote.
Sheila: This time two years ago. I think you’ll like it, Pat.
Sheila: Just listen:
“Will they walk behind me to Kilgarvan?
Will the rain shower blow away, as they climb Egan’s hill?
And will the sunlight catch the flowers that grow on the bend at McGowan’s?
As the priest says the last few prayers, will they smell the fresh earth, and let their eyes follow the clouds racing towards Benbulben?
And will a robin stand close by, perched on the handle of a spade?
As they sprinkle the soil onto my coffin,
Falling on me like rain”
A native of Mayo, Conall came to drama in his 40’s, finding a home with Dalkey Players as an actor and as part of a writing group. This play reflects his love of the outdoors, Irish language and culture. Conall’s work Ar Scáth a Chéile appears in Fishamble’s Tiny Play Challenge 2020.
Come on you Boys in Green by Barry McStay
Both about 60.
Robbie - Did you watch last night?
Ray - God, don’t start -
Robbie - We were shite.
Ray - Total shite.
Robbie - Absolute shite.
Ray - Worst I’ve ever seen -
Robbie - Worse.
Ray - The pits.
Robbie - Spot on -
Ray - Terrible -
Robbie - Weren’t we?
Ray - We were.
Robbie - I mean -
Ray - Sure stoppit -
Robbie - Slovenia.
Ray - Exactly -
Robbie - Slovenia.
Ray - I know -
Robbie - Slovenia.
Ray - Don’t talk to me -
Robbie - Come on -
Ray - Sure look -
Robbie - You finally got one.
Ray - Well, you have to don’t you?
Robbie - Still. End of an era.
Ray - End of an era.
Robbie - How does she drive?
Ray - Smooth enough. It’s very quiet.
Robbie - That’s what they say, isn’t it?
Ray - They’re right.
Robbie - Almost spooky, the way they creep up on you.
Ray - You’d nearly miss the rattle of the old petrol engines.
Robbie - They don’t make em like that any more.
Ray - They’re not allowed.
Robbie - Sure this is it.
Ray - D’you ’member - the Lada!
Robbie - Larry!
Ray - Larry the Lada!
Ray - Italia 90!
Robbie - Those were the days.
Ray - Weren’t they?
Robbie - Now that was a team!
Ray - Big Jack!
Robbie - Jackie’s Army -
Ray - Olé olé olé -
Robbie - “Come on you boys in green!”
Ray - Driving to Italy -
Robbie - You, me, Walshy and Kearney -
Ray - Larry the Lada stank with us four!
Robbie - He did!
Ray - Some adventure.
Robbie - Genoa to Rome!
Ray - I didn’t get to Rome -
Robbie - God, that’s right -
Ray - I’ve never forgiven Paul.
Robbie - I bet.
Ray - Of all the days -
Robbie - June 30th 1990.
Ray - Exactly -
Robbie - Stadio Olimpico -
Ray - Exactly -
Robbie - We felt bad, when you left -
Ray - How d’you think I felt?
Robbie - Marie would have killed you though -
Ray - Oh I know -
Robbie - Still -
Ray - Bad enough having to come home - but having to smile after that result -
Robbie - Schillachi.
Ray - Schillachi.
Robbie - Still. You had to.
Ray - Yeah. You know yourself. Holding him.
Happiest day of my life.
Bollocks was it.
Robbie - He’s a good lad all the same.
They’re getting married soon aren’t they? Him and -
Ray - Scott, yeah - July.
Robbie - That’ll be some day.
Ray - Ah yeah.
Robbie - Long as they’re happy.
Ray - This is it.
Robbie - Happiest day of his life.
Ray - This is it.
Did you watch the match with Gráinne?
Robbie - Just myself. She left on Tuesday..
Ray - Back to Oz.
Robbie - Exactly.
Ray - Takes no time at all now, does it?
Robbie - God no, blink of an eye.
Ray - She’ll be back soon enough.
Robbie - Not until Easter. Hopefully with the grandkids.
Ray - Ah right.
No time at all.
Robbie - Ah yeah, it’s no distance.
Ray - Not like the old days.
Robbie - God no.
Does it take long to charge?
Ray - Not long at all.
Robbie - That’s handy.
Ray - Exactly.
Robbie - Where d’you charge it?
Ray - Over at Paul’s.
Robbie - Would you not get one of them outlets yourself?
Ray - Ah no, he and Scott already had one, you know?
Robbie - Fair enough.
Ray - I drop over, it’s very quick - a few minutes - I stick my head in the door. Prove I’m not dead.
Robbie - God yeah. They do worry, don’t they?
Ray - I was going to head over now.
Robbie - Grand, I’ll let you get on.
Ray - Are you going somewhere?
Robbie - Just to the shops.
Ray - Hop in there.
Robbie - If you’re sure?
Ray - It’s no bother.
You’ll come round for watch the next match, won’t you? Watch it together.
Robbie - If you like.
Ray - They’ll be better.
Robbie - They can’t get any worse.
Ray - God willing.
Robbie - Slovenia - exactly - Slovenia!
Barry is an actor & writer. His plays include Vespertilio (dir. Lucy Jane Atkinson, VAULT Festival & Kings Head Theatre) The First (dir. Emily Jenkins, VAULT Festival), The Lighthouse (Fishamble, A Play For Ireland), Bir Tawil (dir. Caitriona McLaughlin, Druid Theatre) & Our Island (dir. Maisie Lee, Dublin Fringe, Zebbie Award Nominee). His work has been longlisted for the Bruntwood, Theatre 503 & Papatango Prizes.
Twitter: @bazmcstay / @VespertilioPlay
Selfish by Signe Lury
CONNIE and THEO, two women in their early twenties, are onstage together, but separate. They talk as if giving independent monologues but there should be a rhythm between them.
CONNIE: It was the third time we’d matched.
THEO: She messaged first.
CONNIE: I was drunk enough to send a message but not enough to make me creative or funny. She replied, though.
THEO: It’s been about five months now.
CONNIE: I wish I could just enjoy it – and I do, I think, when I’m with her I do just enjoy it – but when we’re not together and I’m alone I just start obsessing over next year, whether we’ll be together, what we’ll be doing.
THEO: I can’t even picture next year. I got an offer for my dream masters – this sculpture thing – and I think I’m going to turn it down. When I saw the offer I just thought, you bitch. You selfish bitch. Sculpture? Really? Now?
CONNIE: I get stuck in this mental whirlpool of trying to focus on the immediate future and not being able to think about the immediate future without thinking about the longterm future and not being able to think about the longterm future because we don’t have one.
We don’t, like.
THEO: Everything I do right now feels selfish.
CONNIE: We only have this decade to make some kind of meaningful change and if we don’t the world as we know it is going to fall apart. I mean, it already is in some places, but people here read that in the news and think oh it must be normal, it must be normal for countries like that to have tsunamis and 30 degree heat one day followed by minus 20 the next and floods that displace your entire home, family, life.
THEO: In my application I whinged on about my ‘environmentally-conscious practice’ and how it’s all about grassroots shit and if we set a new precedent everyone will follow. I only use recycled materials and I did a whole installation where I repurposed the sculptures I’d made, it’s a never-ending journey of reuse reduce recycle, I said, it’s really powerful and it’s going to make people think.
CONNIE: I don’t know what I want to do next year and I know I should do something but I don’t know what. I think I’m clinging on to Theo, clinging on to her because she’s there and she’s great and I just want something I can hold onto.
THEO: We’ve all entertained the thought that our art can change the world but I think part of being an artist is reaching that point where you’re like – that’s bullshit. That’s just justification for me wanting to do something that doesn’t involve numbers or spreadsheets.
CONNIE: I’m worried I’m using her. Using her for certainty and some kind of stability.
THEO: I know that wanting to just be with someone, away from the world and away from everything, I know that’s selfish.
CONNIE: People keep telling me that I should trust my gut. That only I know how I feel. That I would know if I was using her, taking advantage of her.
There’s a pause – a shift in dynamic.
THEO: I think I’m gonna turn down the masters.
THEO: I feel like I should be doing something more meaningful.
THEO: No idea what that is though.
CONNIE: Do you wanna come over?
CONNIE: You can stay with me for a while. If you want.
THEO: Yeah. I’d like that.
Signe is a writer, director, and actor, graduating this year from Trinity where she studied English & Drama. She’s a co-founder of Gift Horse Theatre, an environmentally-conscious company with a focus on reimagining classic texts. Writing credits include We Are Not a Muse (Edinburgh Fringe) and Tess (Gift Horse). She veers between believing eco-theatre will change the world and believing the world is about to end.
Insta: @signe.lury / @gifthorsetheatre
Cáithnín By James Ireland
[One woman. Cold wind. Labhraíonn sí.]
It begins first dark earth land connected continent retreat ice and flood comes in, the climate
Three thousand metre tall ice sheet wall rip through glen log, sliabh, carraig, sciúradh an
tírdhreacha now gone. Across the sea we arrive.
Some stay at coast. Water. Spray. Red sunset. They remember phosphorescence on seaweed
and feeling you get when you’re out at sea at dawn and you’re the only person alive ever
before or ever since. But what I remember is trees, scots pine, thinner on uplands so there we
settle, clearing trees and smell of tree sap trunk cut firewood spit, in the morning tracks of
Then one thousand years the soil is empty, we move off mountain we move inland, inland,
and we clear trees too. Sphagnum moss grow over animalskin thatch huts we left behind. We
repeat. We creep downwind when we hunt. We love and we cry in thunderstorms. I lay in the
sun dreaming and a thin film is settling itself between me and my world. At some point I fall
And when I wake up.
City. Carbon-black turf-cut mountainside scar, metal glass sky-cut tarmac-sealed monstrous
smoke scar ship container oil earth-blood, machine. Mountain dust water pump crust fracture
net catch bottom trawl life screech, bigger, bigger, bigger, worse.
Asphalt grass square manicure cut down nitrogen grow steal earth dig mineral burn, platinum
war lithium conquer chlorpyrifos nitrogen soak grow and cut, grow and cut, grow and cut
and shop deliver fly freight naphtha kerosene hydrocarbon burn now more ice melt so fume
smoke more grow kill force feed take ask force pull tear build tear scratch scrape scour earth
break still scrape force tear more. Sessile oak? Mac tíre? Neamhláithreacht.
Somewhere on ocean, someone remembers a feeling. Dawn. Of no-one before and no-one
since. Being only person in world. The feeling of iarmhaireacht creeping up. Somewhere
someone else remembers sun on shoulderblades and dreaming, a scim descending on their
eyes as they succumb to sleep. I, awake now on top of my mountain, I listen.
When we were asleep we made planetwide world-poison. Crithir. Solid foundation whole
earth shivering. Land almost gone. Planet almost gone. Our words almost. Thoughts gone.
But. In gust of wind séideán gaoithe rush as something else from our-world-but-other-world
passes by - there is still time to glimpse half-memory some miniscule spark last hope speck
caught in corner of my eye.
Cáithnín. Yes, cáithnín. A word for that now I remember it is cáithnín.
My your world contains an other world and our atoms connect. Our atoms belong to each
other. Today world-poison neamhláithreacht has inside beneath in the future of it another
world. Cáithnín, séideán gaoithe, scim, son of the land are our word relics buried of time. Dig
them out. Excavate. Find. Learn.
And I can heal. Care. Share. Take sparsely. Séideán gaoithe gifts energy between
world-poison now and future life. The sun gifts hydrogen helium shooting from space
radiance electron heat, accept it. We do not take from sphagnum moss bratphortach, instead
leave and grow, froach, bog orchid, fia, white tailed eagle, and sessile oak caorthann instead
of spruce plantation dead harvest, bring corn bunting, mud pond snail, meadow saxifrage,
wild boar, mac tíre. Turn grass square tarmac to birds-foot-trefoil, red clover, Devil’s-bit
scabious, praiseach garbh, poipín, talamh móinéir. Turn tidal movement to electrons. To
cáithnín. Catch them. Keep them. Use them. Listen to them. Work with them.
Follow them. The climate is changing. Tá cneasú air.
James Ireland is a gender nonconforming playwright/theatremaker. They recently graduated from the MA Writing programme at the RCA (London), where they researched actionable allyship in theatre producing. Previous work includes productions at The New Theatre and Smock Alley (Dublin), as well as The Arcola, Pleasance, and Theatre Deli (London).
Salvage by Joanne Hayden
Ma Feels like we’re mitching, doesn’t it? The beach in the middle of the week. You all right? Leave your crutch on the rug and I’ll take your runners off for you, let the sand between your toes.
Ali I can take them off myself, Ma. Stop fussing.
Ma There. Better? You’re doing great, love. You’ve been taking my tonic?
Ali Even more vile than usual. Yes, I’m taking it.
Ma You’ll be jiving in no time. Back to taxi mum – ferrying the twins all over.
Ali Teenage Terrors.
Ma Girls that age have to fight their mothers. They’ll hit twenty and get sense. You’ll end up the best of friends. Just look at us. Why’re you laughing? Isn’t this lovely? Gulls in full voice.
Ali Full racket.
Ma See the wagtails chasing the flies? And the dunes are doing better since we cleared the buckthorn.
Ali Who’s we? The knit-your-own-brown-rice brigade?
Ma My fellow volunteers and I, Ali. Allotment pals. The buckthorn was taking over, pushing out the native flowers and grasses. We cleared it last spring.
Ali Sorry. I know I’m grumpy.
Ma Your leg set you back.
Ali Stupid fall. Stupid timing. Just as I was getting used to him being gone.
Ma Takes a while. Separation’s hard.
Ali You bounced back.
Ma I put on a good show.
Ali We came here a lot the summer Dad left.
Ma We did. It helped us both. The swims. The picnics.
Ali Everyone else with their ham and cheese rolls. Us with our hummus and mung bean bread. No, you’re right, it did help. We’d sit here like just this. On clear days, I’d stare at the horizon, the sea a bit darker than the sky, both pure blue and nothing else there except the line between them you could barely see. I’d sit, watching, in a trance of blue and imagine sailing around the world. Can’t do it now. The view’s destroyed by those ugly yokes.
Ma The turbines.
Ali Blades cutting up the landscape. Why did they have to put them there?
Ma I like watching them. They remind me of how we’re turning all the time, circling the sun. You, me, the twins, everyone else, nearly eight billion of us, dying, birthing, being born, falling in love, getting hurt.
Ali Reminds me of how people wreck everything.
Ma And build out of the wreckage. After wars and plagues and hurricanes. Break-ups. Blazing rows with your mother cause she wouldn’t buy you a pair of skyscraper shoes for your sixteenth birthday.
Ali The gladiator pumps.
Ma It’s your neck you would’ve broken in those.
Ali I ran away.
Ma You came back. We have to have hope, Ali.
Ali They should’ve put them somewhere else.
Ma There’s loads of wind here. It’s clean. We don’t have to dig down for it. We don’t need to destroy anything.
Ali Except natural beauty.
Ma Sometimes it’s about changing the way we look at things. Little things. Big things. The sun and sea and wind are abundant. All that energy. Just waiting to be harnessed.
Ali Wish I could harness some of yours.
Ma There’s a spare togs for you in the bag.
Ali Have you lost it, Ma? I’ve a broken leg.
Ma You can link me, bring your crutch. A gentle dunking is all. Be a turning point for you.
Ali If I fall or drown--
Ma No one’s falling or drowning on my watch.
Ali Am I actually saying yes?
Ma We’ll have a picnic after. Goji berry bars.
Ali Can’t wait.
Joanne Hayden is a writer and arts journalist. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Francis MacManus award, broadcast on RTÉ radio and published in literary journals including Crannóg and Banshee. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She lives in Dublin.
A Journey by Eva-Jane Gaffney
Lights up on an actor, mid 20s-mid 30s, sitting in the middle of the stage. They have a
suitcase and a bottle of water by their side. They take a deep breath in and out.
There are 4 lamps on the stage, all switched off. They are all different sizes and designs.
Is it sustainable?
Lamp #1 bings on.
Is it healthy?
Lamp #2 bings on.
Is it good for me?
Lamp #3 bings on.
Is it cruelty free?
Lamp #4 bings on.
Is it sustainable?
An bhfuil sé inbhuanaithe?
They take another deep breath in and out, this time is slightly more exasperated.
I don’t know sometimes, like.. you’d be a bit lost now and then, wouldn’t you? A bit
overwhelmed? Uaireanta sílim go bhfuil gach doras dúnta.
I mean, I just find it hard to understand, personally, tá sé deacair domsa é a thuiscint.
Agus tá sé deacair domsa labhairt faoi.
They stand up.
Ruby is ainm dom.
I don’t have anything to sustain.
I mean, I’m sustaining this hat and this jumper and this suitcase but I don’t own... things.
And it’s hard to focus on sustaining when you don’t have things… the big things..
Y’know? Níl siad agam.
Ní raibh siad agam.
An mbeidh siad agam?
They look at the plastic bottle of water beside them for a moment.
and then back to us.
No, I don’t own a keepcup.
I don’t own a home.
I don’t own a car.
Technically I don’t even own a wardrobe.
I rent someone else's.
Deartair nach bhfuil aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin. Should we stop saying that?
It’s hard sometimes y’know, everything on telly and online and on the radio is must-do
tips and tricks and life hacks but when you don’t have the required part of the
aforementioned life to hack it’s hard to deal with that constant advertisement of
We hear an audio mashup of ads and interviews promoting greener living, hybrid cars,
sustainable packaging, vegan and cruelty free products. Ruby mimics these along with
the track in her best range of voiceover voices. The lamps start to flicker.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that there’s a huge emphasis on sustainability for my
generation, it’s just really not great that none of my peers have na rudaí mór. Things
have never been like this before.
Ruby is trying to fix the lamps but the stage keeps getting darker slowly, the ads still play
all fuzzy and distorted, Ruby has to be heard over this commotion.
We’re all looking to make this brighter future for ourselves and it’s making the present
really dark.. really, really dark.
The lights are very low now, we can just about see Ruby in the darkness.
Cá bhfuil an dóchas? There’s no doubt that we’re being seen and heard, but I don’t know
if we’re being understood. It’s not enough to only be understood by the people who feel
the same as you.
Tá súil agam go bhfuil an dóchas ionam.
Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil an dóchas sa pháistí.
Ruby gives up on the lamps. They continue to flicker in a low light.
Ach tá a fhios agam go bhfuil siad fíor-chliste chomh maith.
They can see that we’re worried, they feel it from us.
They know we don’t own our own wardrobes and they wonder why.
That’s why I’m going.
I need to stare at the sea for a while.
I need to go somewhere where someday I might own one of the big things.
She picks up her suitcase.
Eva-Jane Gaffney is an actor and voiceover artist from Dublin. Previous stage work includes HEROIN (2018), Rapids and Danny & Chantelle (Still Here). Screen credits include Wastewater, Rosie and Sing Street & Éirí amach Amú. She encourages people to speak what bits of Gaeilge they know no matter the level.
BEDTIME by Aoife Delany-Reade
Low lighting. Charlie stands centre stage. They are one of us.
Who would’ve thought it was that easy?
Charlie takes a step forward. Lights fade up. They talk to us.
Roll out of bed. Feet greet the ground before Alarm begins to shout her worries of the day.
Today’s the day.
A day of change.
My bed is getting made.
Not for fear of scolding or mould growing- though they so often do the trick, but from Other. From a subtle spark of care that slowly lights a fire.
Something has changed.
Today’s the day- the same as any other.
But now the bed is made.
Descending like the rain from today’s everyday sky.
But it’s not an obstacle anymore.
Not something to ignore or shy away from, but an element to embrace.
So, with coated body and determined face I step-
Charlie takes an intentional step forward. Rain is heard.
-outside into downpour.
I walk my usual route to my usual routine, and am surprised to be greeted with something other than usual.
The faceless masses I customly pass are looking up, and… smiling towards me? A din of warmth greets the cold air. An exchange amongst strangers.
A gentle din is heard.
To my surprise I smile back. We greet each other in a strange way. Strange because we are finally meeting each other. Masses find their meaning again in an individual way. We’re blessed that something has changed. We’ve made our bed today.
Charlie takes another step forward. The gentle din fades.
I carry on and come to the underpass. Regular home of the cider lads - dodging
school - whose blaring tunes and wisps of wizardly smoke spell ‘You Shall Not Pass’.
But it’s empty. They’ve gone away.
Back to their worried mothers-seen at last, or integrated with the masses and made their way to class.
The boys’ve been replaced.
With bunk-bed upon bunk-bed of blankets and pillows settled perfectly in place.
I’m not sure how long they’ve been gone.
Then again, when did I last look their way?
Something’s settled in their place.
Pause. Charlie takes another step forward
I emerge from the tunnel’s other side, and carry on my every day.
Repetition after repetition.
This time in a different way.
Change upon subtle change.
We try. Things get better.
Pause. Charlie takes a step forward.
As time passes, the sun returns to it’s freshly made bed. As routine passes, I return to house, transformed to home- myself carried with it.
Not from want or will, but from beginning's smallest step.
In the remnants of housely habit-I turn on the news.
Not out of morbidity or distraction, but from want to engage.
To see what else has changed.
The sound of static plays.
But nothing plays. There’s nothing left to report.
No tragedy or disaster or gradual decline.
The smoke has stopped, the oceans calmed and for the first time in however long- everything is…
Not from structural change, or political play- but from subtle changes in our subtle ways.
For once, I’m not tired, I’m energised by lack.
Pause. A gentle, rhythmic beat plays. Soothing.
The moon peeks it’s head and sleepy stars begin to shine, the world can rest, knowing we’re doing fine.
We can rest, knowing the world is going to be…
It’s time to make our bed.
Who would’ve thought it was that easy?
Aoife Delany Reade is a tiny, all encompassing fragment of the universe. Working primarily as a director and writer, Delany Reade is drawn to liminality: worlds suspended between fact and fiction; magic masquerading in mundanity. She is co-artistic director of war/war/war Theatre, a space created to formally acknowledge the unified-yet ever-shifting nature of collective collaboration she engages in.
The New Friday by Grace Collender
Mora, 15, sits on her bedroom floor with a “Strike for Climate” sign.
Mora: I sit in my room and she calls me -
Mam and Mora: MORA! MORA! MORA!
Mora: But I sit here. Waiting. Doing nothing really, let’s face it. But something, still. Striking.
A screen is projected onto Mora’s face and the blank wall behind her. Greta Thunberg speech plays. Mora looks forward, as if watching:
Greta: “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope?”--
Mam: (from downstairs) Will you turn that thing off!
Mora: (to audience) She doesn’t understand. (shouting to Mam) You don’t understand!
Mam runs upstairs and pounds on the door. Mora pauses video.
Mam: We’re not doing this again. Get up, you’re going in.
Mora: I’m saving the world?
Mam opens door.
Mam: Well then I’m calling the Guards.
Mora: The Guards.
Mam: Up. Over my dead body are you going to piss your future down the sink.
Mora looks at her and plays the Greta Thunberg video in response:
Greta: “Why should I be studying for a future that soon will be no more when no one is doing anything whatsoever to save that future.”
Mora pauses video.
Mam: It’s me that’ll need saving after listening to all you little snowflakes.
Mora: (deadpan) Soon there’ll be no snowflakes. It’ll be too hot. And all the metaphorical ones will be dead.
Mam: Well then I’ll be happy. My tan needs a good top up. Now get up.
Mam leaves. Mora presses play on the video. Full volume. She barricades the door with a chair. Mam struggles to get back in.
Greta: “Some people say that Sweden is just a small country and that it doesn’t matter what we do. But I think that if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could all do together if you wanted to.”
Mam: You do know if you miss more than 20 days of school --
Mora: Mam, this is important --
Mam: I can literally go to jail --
Mora: Did you know that Ireland didn’t meet their 2020 EU emission targets and now we have to pay up to €500 million annually in compensation?
Mam: Did you know you need a Leaving Cert to make money?
Mora: Did you know Ireland ranks worst in the EU for climate action? Did you know that climate change already causes 150,000 deaths every year and rising? Did you know we literally have 10 years to sort all of this out or we’ll drown and burn and die?
Mam: Why are you doing this to me?
Mora: I’m doing this for you.
Beat. Mam deflates and goes downstairs.
Mora: (to audience) I dream of Fridays being like any other day. I’d get to go to school and not worry about problems that adults should be dealing with. I’d get to worry about my future, not whether or not I’ll have one. I’d get to plan to have a family and not worry that my child will be born into a world that will die. I’d get to go to ALDI and not see a “Not Yet Recyclable” sign. I’d get to know that my world is safe, that my family is safe, that I am safe. And until then, this is the new Friday.
Mam puts a glass of water and toast at the bedroom door. She leaves for work.
Grace Collender is an actor and writer. Her recent acting work includes productions with The Abbey Theatre, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Cork Midsummer Festival, BBC and Screen Ireland. Grace’s undergraduate essay concerning the work of Caryl Churchill won the Regional Global Undergraduate Award 2019. She is represented by The Susannah Norris Agency.