The Act of Oblivion IV: The Penal Laws

The Penal Laws marked the fourth production in a series of self-devised productions called Act Of Oblivion, which generally explored the themes of colonisation and Irish youth. The Penal Laws more specifically examines cultural conquest, and state repression of belief, language, custom and laws of an indigenous people

The Act of Oblivion was a once-yearly, five part series of plays devised, produced, and performed by the Senior Ensemble, a long running group of Crooked House’s at-the-time most experienced members, ranging in age from 18-23. The Penal Laws marked the fourth production in the series.

The Penal Laws’ examines cultural conquest, specifically the state repression of belief, language, custom and laws of an indigineous people. The ensemble, consisting of Crooked House’s Senior Ensemble, explores the historical oppression using the metaphor of a classroom, drawing upon young people’s experiences of being in the second-level school system in Ireland. The work also uses an ancillary image of performer-audience

relationship to comment on the colonial relationship. Featuring a contstant backdrop of both complimentary and contradictory imaging and words, the classroom scenario inevitably suffers from a complete and absolut breakdown of both normality and realism, as the teacher, who in a sense is the coloniser, becomes increasingly overpowered by the colonised. The Penal Laws was alos unique, in that like all installments of The Act of Oblivion series, included a unique twist or element. In The Penal Laws, on two seperate occassions audiences were able to vote off characters based on their collective response to each individual character and their actions. The play would dynamically evolve and change based on the nearly innumerable permutations of character removals. The Penal Laws was also partially devised with the intention of later brining it to the For/With/By Festival in Birmingham, England.

Promotional trailer produced in the run up to the production:

A full, edited performance of the production:

Dates and times info: 8th-9th February 2019.

Location: Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge.

Devised by the Senior Ensemble, featuring Charlie Hughes-Farrell, Colin Smyth, Ali Eaton, Lauren Kelly, Peter McHale, Seán Dowse, Doug Morrison, Kayleiigh Doyle, Joe Brown, Cian Ó Náirigh, Hannah Power, Aoife Carew, and Hollie Murphy, under the direction of Peter Hussey, who all played themselves. See brochure for more.

Funders: The Act of Oblivion series, including the Penal Laws was entirely funded by the Arts Council’s Young Ensemble Scheme.