Escaping the Irish famine in 1850 five young women seek passage on a ship to Australia. For many of the ‘orphan girls’ on board, the voyage offers a fresh start. But some girls find they cannot escape the memory of the lives they’ve left behind - and that the closer they get to Australia the more powerful the past becomes.
Jaki McCarrick won the 2010 Papatango Prize for New Writing for her play Leopoldville. Belfast Girls was developed at the National Theatre Studio, and was shortlisted for the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the 2014 BBC Tony Doyle Award.
Reviews of professional productions in Chicago and Vancouver, 2017:
“Jaki McCarrick’s captivating play Belfast Girls tells the story of five young women who escape starvation in 1850 Ireland by winning passage on a ship bound for Australia as part of Earl Grey’s ‘orphan scheme.’ McCarrick examines themes of class division, race and misogyny through the turbulent journey of these women’s lives which are in one moment heartbreaking and the next humourous.” Vanvouverpresents.com
“Here is an incredible play… The script was incredible and fulsome, the characters totally well flushed out. While the subject matter was deep, the emotional levels allowed the experience to be both enjoyable and moving. The play is an exploration of women moving to other peoples' land to start a new life where their lives in Ireland were horrendous, because acts of colonization (the exportation of their food sources for the privileged people's enrichment and/or enjoyment) was literally starving them to death ... chilling.” Karen Tsang
"A really powerful ensemble piece." Vancouver Sun
"The timing of Belfast Girls and its story of 1850 Irish women emigrating to Australia is perfect in 2017." Brokenlegreviews
"The strength of McCarrick's themes point to the likelihood of its becoming a popular addition to the regional circuit... Highly recommended." Windy City Times
"...a thought-provoking work of historic fiction and tremendous imagination." Theatre World Internet Magazine
"McCarrick provides all these injustices with human faces... and provides a fine study of characters and their world. Recommended." The Chicago Critic
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Belfast Girls is available to license!Learn More
- Mild Adult Themes
- Genre: Docudrama/Historic
- Time Period: 19th Century
- Cast Attributes: All Female
- Target Audience: Adult, Senior, Teen (Age 14 - 18)