Vessel is Irish writer and performer Laura Wyatt O’Keeffe’s multi-award nominated play that tackles the divisive subject of women’s bodies and women’s rights. It is about choice, the choices that are hidden from us by social norms and patriarchal structures. Rebellion rather than acceptance.
After winning 5-star success at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018, this compelling drama has now been reworked and recast for three actors. It tours to London, Northern Ireland and Bedford in March 2020 followed by extensive UK dates in September.
Set both pre and post the Irish referendum on abortion, Vessel tells the story of Maia, an Irish right-to-choose activist. Using her own pregnancy to bring a legal challenge against the government, she approaches a journalist to interview her and cover her campaign. As the campaign develops Maia faces criticism from both sides of the debate and comes to question all that she holds dear…
Through wit and humour it explores the complexities of love and relationships in modern society, taking in motherhood, fertility, bodily autonomy and restrictive abortion laws in many countries. With campaigns and rallies for women’s rights gathering momentum worldwide, it questions if we can ever separate a woman from her fertility? As a society do we value women as humans or just potential mothers? At a time when public figures are expressing their concerns at the role of the media it also looks at how the press can victimise anyone in the public eye.
Vessel is a hard hitting play that challenges the choices we are given, uproots the lies and the legacies we inherit, and boldly protests for the power of the individual. With abortion rights under attack in the USA and elsewhere, is a timely reminder that globally women are still fighting to gain control of their own bodies and their right to choose.
The 2018 referendum in Ireland produced an overwhelming vote in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment and allowing abortion on request up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Prior to this, each day 9 Irish women travelled to the UK, spending up to €1,000 to be considered criminals in their pursuit of a safe abortion. Although abortion has been decriminalised in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, the Abortion Support Network charity still fund women to travel to England from both countries for the procedure.
Laura Wyatt O’Keeffe is part of a family steeped in Irish politics – her great granduncle was Michael Collins who fought for Ireland’s independence and brokered/signed the peace treaty with the United Kingdom. As a performer, writer, facilitator, researcher, collaborator and activist she tells stories, in any way that she can – through theatre and site-specific performances, sound and video installations, spoken word and short films. www.lwok.co.uk
Vessel was originally created with director Christopher Gatt and Laura was mentored by Bryony Kimmings. The show was developed with support from Olivier Award winning Fishamble Theatre Company and input from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Abortion Network Support, a GP, solicitor and activist Diane Munday.
20 March 8pm
Derry Playhouse Theatre and Arts Centre, 5-7 Artillery St, Derry, BT48 6RG,
£12/£10 028 7126 8027 www.derryplayhouse.co.uk
21 March 8pm
Armagh The Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre, Market St Armagh, BT61 7BW
£14.50/£12.50 028 3752 1820 www.marketplacearmagh.com
25 March 7.30pm
Bedford, The Place, Bradgate Road, Bedford MK40 3DE
£12/£10 01234 354321 www.theplacebedford.org.uk
26, 27 March 7pm
London Stratford Circus Arts Centre, Theatre Square, London E15 1BX
£15, £13 020 8279 1080 www.stratford-circus.com
Vessel will undertake an extensive English tour in September.