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Rosaleen McDonagh: “Enjoy, enjoy, & never ever give in to self-doubt”

One of our four female writers, Rosaleen McDonagh, counsels her teenage self “Enjoy, enjoy, & never ever give in to self-doubt” Words to live by but more specifically I think this is perfect advice for all the participants in The 24 Hour Plays in aid of Dublin Youth Theatre supported by BNP Paribas Real Estate. Did you know that our entire creative team this year are #24HrDub newbies? Thankfully they have the veterans in the crew to really scare the pants off them.

Introduce yourself please. You can even describe yourself as if you are being introduced as a guest facilitator at a DYT workshop.

“Rosaleen McDonagh is a Traveller woman with a disability from Sligo. She has a BA in Biblical & Theological Studies, an MPhil in Ethnic & Racial Studies & an MPhil in Creative Writing, all from TCD. She is currently working on a PhD, ‘From Shame to Pride: The Politics of Traveller Identity’. McDonagh’s artistic work includes:

Rosaleen McDonagh, Photo by Graeae Theatre Company. Write to Play programme.
Rosaleen McDonagh. Image by Patrick Baldwin for Graeae Theatre Company. Write to Play programme.
  • The Baby Doll Project
  • Stuck
  • She’s Not Mine
  • Rings
  • Beat Him Like a Badger
  • Colum McCann, Booker Prize winner – permission for adaption of his novel Zoli (protegee) for stage.
  • Regular contributor to Irish Times on Traveller & Disability issues.
  • Work in progress – film script “”Unsettled””.”

Have you participated in The 24 Hour Plays in aid of Dublin Youth Theatre before? If yes what is your fondest/ most nightmare causing memories? If no what are you looking forward to/ terrified of?

I am looking forward to the adrenaline rush from the time pressure. Also, looking forward to working with actors who will trigger and ignite my imagination. Looking forward to laughing a lot and meeting the other writers.

If you could give your teenage self a piece of advice what would it be?

Calm down, you are beautiful, you are gorgeous, you are capable, you are competent. Take your time, take your moment, be generous, make room for others. Be proud and strong in who you are. Always look and speak as if there are other Travellers and disabled people who are in the audience. Be open to being wrong, but mostly enjoy, enjoy, & never ever give in to self-doubt.

What theatrical experience has had the biggest impact on you?

When Graeae Theatre Company came to Dublin with their show “Peeling”, which had three female performers with disabilities. It had a profound impact on my life & writing. In 2013 I worked with Graeae on the Write to Play programme, which involved a two-week writing attachment with the Royal Court Theatre. This experience challenged my ideas about collaboration, resistance & representation within the context of writing and performance. As a writer my allegiance will always favour the aesthetic of the outsider, which include Traveller identity & diverse experience of embodiment.

Describe the craziest costume you have ever worn. 

My niece who is also a wheelchair user, wanted both of us to dress up as purple beetles for her school play. While I was not performing, sitting in the audience dressed like a purple beetle with other parents and guardians felt humbling and somewhat embarrassing. It was the greatest lesson of love, because other adults made assumptions about my capacity, without understanding the little five year old on stage who did not want to be the odd one out. It was her show, my beetle outfit was about support. Whatever others thought of me for those few hours was irrelevant.

Don’t miss Rosaleen’s contribution to The 24 Hour Plays in aid of Dublin supported by BNP Paribas. Book your ticket now and see you on January 31 in the Abbey Theatre.


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