Spotlight On… Ann Matthews

Ann Matthews’ acclaimed new play Lockout, which commemorates one woman’s experience of the 1913 Strike and Lockout, is back in The New Theatre next month by popular demand. MEG.ie caught up with her to discuss her anticipation about the second run.

Tell me about Lockout – what is the play about?
Well Ellen Byrne was my grandmother. My grandfather was a lockout worker, my mother was a child of the lockout and I used my grandmothers story to tell the story of the many women and children who suffered at that time, but I didn’t want to portray them as victims. I contributed a chapter to a book called A Capital in Conflict and after I wrote it I was asked to write a play, so i decided to use my knowledge of history as an opportunity to tell my grandmother’s story.

Do you think that it’s important that this story be told now?
Absolutely – since last year they’ve been talking about commemorations for the lockout, you cant get away from it. The story of the women and children and how they coped is never talked about, and when they are, they’re often patronised. So, when I was asked to write the play it allowed me to crystallise my thinking towards the whole story – my family’s story, and the story of so many women.

How is it relevant to Ireland in 2013?
I think it’s important because it’s a part of urban class history, which doesn’t get written about a lot. It’s a large part of history – our history – and it shows that we’ve come a long way.

What was the reaction to the original run?
I got amazing feedback, it got a very positive reaction. Someone said to me that I had given my granny dignity and that’s what the play is: a very digified lady telling her story.

Have there been many changes to the script for the second run?
No, no. I’ve left the script because I got such good feedback in the first run. I’m very happy with it.

As the writer, have you been very involved in the production process?
I was there with Anthony at the early readings and attended final rehearsals, and it was a lovely experience. We all gelled really well.

Are you excited about the second run?
Absolutely. I’m very busy writing but I’m also very excited to see the show again.

Lockout runs in The New Theatre October 7th-19th

Gillian Greer

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