A new play exploring the “unheard-of” subject of arranged marriages in Ireland is performing as part of the Liverpool Irish Festival.
Body & Blood by Lorraine Mullaney is on at The Capstone Theatre for two nights only on Monday and Tuesday October 23 and 24. An open Q&A with the writer and cast will follow both performance.
Inspired by the writer’s grandmother who had an arranged marriage, the play is described as “a dark comedy that tackles a tough and hidden subject with the renowned wit and humour of the Irish.”
Marriages were arranged by matchmakers in Ireland well into the 1970s, and girls, some as young as 15, were often taken to the altar against their will. The brides’ dowries were balanced against the land and livestock of the men they were matched with. Irish farmers often deferred marriage until they were well on in years so they needed much younger wives to bear them sons to inherit the land and keep the family name alive.
Body & Blood tells the story of an Irish girl who arrives in London in 1956 looking for her sister, who has run away from Ireland to escape an arranged marriage with a man “with a face like the Turin shroud”.
But, instead of finding her sister, Aileen meets a man who shows her a new side of life, full of freedom and possibilities. Will Aileen choose this new life or return to Ireland and make the sacrifices required to stay true to her roots?
The drama explores the conflicts and culture clash that result from migration and the pull of traditional Irish values. With Ireland recently electing its first openly gay prime minister, the play highlights how far Ireland has come since the 1950s.
The play is presented by Unclouded Moon Productions, a company that develops and produces new plays telling stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations, with a particular focus on Irish culture.
Second-generation Irish writer, Lorraine Mullaney says: “When my mother got engaged to my father in 1960, my grandmother told her she’d come to her marriage with my grandfather with a dowry and cows but my mother had come to hers with nothing. The story always fascinated me.”
She is now researching a book on the subject and would love to hear from anyone with experience of the subject.
She says: “I’d love to talk to other women – and men – who’ve experienced arranged marriages – either themselves or via a friend or family member. There are many stories that haven’t been told.”
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Tickets for the play are available here.