'My body was screaming of motherhood': readings shine light on dark period of Irish history

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Home, presented by the Abbey theatre, shines a light on decades of abuse of unmarried women and children in Ireland

Ireland’s Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, which published its report in January, was not the first inquiry into a dark chapter in the nation’s history. But its findings – alongside its silences and omissions – have sparked a formidable dramatic response on Ireland’s national stage, the Abbey theatre, which recounts the systematic abuse of unmarried women and children in Ireland across the 20th century.

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Home is made up of a breathtaking series of dramatised readings that were filmed over seven days in February and that – crucially – give voice to the experiences of mothers, daughters and sons, in their own words, as well as extracts from official reports into these institutions. At three hours long, with 50 testimonies read by 46 performers (actors, artists and public figures, as well as survivors), it is just a first instalment and clearly has much to redress.

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