Arts student presents at Women and Ageing conference


Shauna McGrath, a final year Arts student majoring in English at Waterford Institute of Technology, had the great honour of presenting her paper, ‘She’s just another of those invisible women past their prime’: The Nightmare of Ageing in Marina Carr’s Woman and Scarecrow at University of Limerick’s ‘Women and Ageing’ conference last week.

Shauna’s paper considers Marina Carr’s lurid depiction and exploration of female ageing. Focusing on the 2006 play Woman and Scarecrow, the paper examines Carr’s creation of a character named Woman who, during the play, lies dying and deformed by a lifetime of pregnancies and domestic duties.

Speaking about her inspiration for the paper, Shauna said, “As a final-year undergraduate Arts student in WIT, I have an avid interest in Irish theatre and, for my final year Independent Literary Study project, have chosen to focus on the dramatic work of Marina Carr. I participated in the Humanities Research Summer School in 2013 when I investigated archival material relating to Waterford Youth Arts and in 2014 visited the National Library to work with the Una Troy collection.”

Shauna investigates Carr’s grotesque and disturbing portrayal of the sacrifice and loss of self during marriage and motherhood and how this can lead to crippling feelings of disorientation and self-estrangement. She also examines how Carr dramatises the process of ageing as a nightmare of identity loss and considers how this nightmare becomes increasingly terrible in the final moments before death.

Research that explores the experience of ageing in Carr’s dramatic work is rare and this paper addresses this gap in research and offers a critical consideration of the nightmare of ageing as represented in Woman and Scarecrow. The paper offers an analysis of Marina Carr’s depiction of ageing through her use of dialogue, hellish images of decay, nightmarish settings and fantastical characters. This study will add to research into female representation and ageing in theatre and will be relevant to scholars of Irish theatre, women’s studies and feminism in performance.

Dr Úna Kealy, a member of the Department of Creative and Performing Arts at the Institute, also presented a paper ‘Fading into Invisibility: Women and Ageing in Teresa Deevy’s Wife to James Whelan’ at the conference.

Dr Kealy lectures in lecturing in Theatre Studies and English and also contributes to a project entitled Performing the Region which prioritises research into theatre and performance connected with Waterford and the South East. Una has worked in professional theatre in Ireland and the UK as a dramaturg, theatre company manager and critic.

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