Face to Face Festival Presents
And the Rope Still Tugging Her Feet
Inspired by 1984's Kerry Babies scandal. A dark, comic take on a time in Ireland when 'the most dangerous place to be was in a woman's womb' (Bishop Joseph Cassidy).
Written and performed by award-winning writer and actress Caroline Burns Cooke (Best Actress ECU European Independent Film Festival for MYRA; Best Feature screenplay for She Moved Through the Fair from Scottish Screenwriters), and directed by Colin Watkeys of Face to Face Festival, director/dramaturg of legendary performers Ken Campbell, Claire Dowie and Jack Klaff.
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14) 12:15
Aug 3-14, 16-21, 23-29 1 hour
What was the inspiration for this performance?
My background is strict Irish Catholic (2nd generation) and I had long wanted to explore the experience of Irish women living in an oppressive church controlled country. But as an actress and writer I’m more interested individuals than ideology, and remembered a scandal which had shocked me as a young woman. I took my inspiration from the so- called Kerry Babies case of 1984 and fictionalised it to incorporate two of my favourite things- tragedy and comedy!
How did you go about gathering the team for it?
The idea had been brewing for a while and I was re-introduced to Colin Watkeys of Face to Face Theatre who specialises in directing Solo shows. I’m a great admirer of his partner Claire Dowie, who I remembered from my stand-up comedy days in the 90’s, and for her subsequent solo shows. Colin had also directed Ken Campbell and Jack Klaff so I was sure we’d be a great fit. I did a workshop with Colin last September, devised a 10 minute performance at The Warren in Brighton, and asked him to work with me to develop the show.
How did you become interested in making performance?
I’ve been an actress on and off since my 20’s, have done stand-up and written plays and screenplays, but the work one is offered is variable and of course dependent on others. I’ve made some of my own work before, notably the stage performance Suffer Little Children, later filmed as Myra, which won me Best Actress at ECU European Independent Film Festival. This encouraged me to take control and write the stories I want to tell and parts I want to play.
Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
No, in that I’m usually a control freak, but this was a collaboration! I would improvise characters for Colin, often with him questioning me to find out more, then we chose the characters we felt strongly about and decided how they should be used to advance the story.
I’d go away and write where we’d got up to, come back and work on it. At one point the main character Leanne got lost so we had to bring her back into focus. My idea for a narrator morphed into a feminist character who feeds the audience necessary facts, without boring them senseless. She provides the comic relief at an extremely bleak part of the play!
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
An entire range of emotions. The story is powerful and heartbreaking, the show pacy and varied and it’s funny!
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
I directly address the audience- They are witnesses, judge and jury if they wish, and are thus totally involved in the action. I play all the characters, it’s laced through with humour, there’s an Irish dance and a sing-along, all the while keeping sight of a tragic human story, but neither condemning nor applauding the players in this sorry tale.
Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
Universal storytelling in a Beckettian landscape. Brooks Empty Space. A yarn told in an Irish pub. A single mother, a nun and a feminist walk into a bar….