Abstract

Anu Productions premiered their site-specific devised performance Laundry in the former Magdalene Laundry building on Lower Seán McDermott Street, as part of their four-part artistic investigation of this historical city centre district at the 2011 Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. This essay will offer performance analysis of Laundry (winner of “Best Production,” Irish Times Theatre Awards 2012) and detail how the founding principles of Irish national freedom – the Roman Catholic faith and independent Irish governance – determined that only certain individuals and groups were free, while others were hidden, silenced, punished, and incarcerated for life. Control of the female body existed at the heart of these national power interests, as did careful management of the family unit proper. Visibility, invisibility, free speech, individual agency, and access to political power were all tightly managed privileges in this culture of national, religious, and sexual control and overt gender discrimination.

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