Eclipsed>Production Info
Theatre Banshee produced Eclipsed by Patricia Burke Brogan March-April of 1995 at the Gene Bua Acting for Life Theatre in Burbank, California.

Nellie Nora Langan Beth Kennedy
Brigit Murphy Josie DiVincenzo
Mandy Prenderville Sharon Mendel
Sister Virginia Leslie Baldwin
Cathy McNamara Sarah Halley
Mother Victoria Rebecca Wackler
Juliet Manion Kimberly Pearce Haynes
Production Staff
Director Sean Branney
Producers Leslie Baldwin & Sean Branney
Assistant Director/Stage Manager Pascal Marcotte
Scenic/Lighting Designer Shaun Meredith
Costume Designer Laura Brody
Sound Designer Josh Abramson
Technical Director Bob Davidson
Dialect Coach Susan Hegarty
Painters Brandt A. Marshall, Angela Jesolva, Sandi Sullivan
Set Construction Bob Davidson, Shaun Meredith

Patricia Burke Brogan (Playwright)

Patricia was born in County Clare, Ireland and presently lives in Galway City. A talented artist, her paintings and graphics have been exhibited throughout Ireland and internationally including exhibits in Spain, Andorra, Hawaii, and Japan. She has won numerous prizes for her short stories, some of which have been published in a collection entitled ‘Above the Waves‘ Calligraphy. Eclipsed, her first play, toured venues throughout Ireland and went on to win a Scotsman Fringe First at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival in 1992. The American premiere at the Forum Theatre in Worcester, Mass. won the Moss Hart Award for Excellence in Theatre in 1994. Eclipsed was most recently produced at the Teatro Tredici in Florence, Italy. Patricia is presently working on a new play, a novel, a collection of poems and a screenplay for Eclipsed.
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Production Notes by Sean Branney 12/2/01

Eclipsed was one of the great experiences of my life and perhaps the artistic acheivement that I'm most proud of. Although it has been more than six years since that production, the thematic power of the play and the dramatic intensity of moments in our production still haunt me. In a good way.

Eclipsed was Leslie's and my first attempt at producing a play. We went through the arduous process of forming the company and getting our non-profit status. Then, by a whim of fate, we happened across this play. Ms. Burke Brogan graciously gave our little company the opportunity to bring the play to Los Angeles. As producers, we were fortunate to assemble a cast of outstanding actresses who were eager to tackle this intense project.

The result of everyone's hard work was more than one could hope for. I personally loved the production. Audiences wept openly. Critics raved. The play came to life and moved people profoundly. Even now, I still have people ask me, "What was the name of that show you guys did with those women and the nuns?". Eclipsed was entertainment that engaged, challenged, and moved audiences. We could not have asked for a stronger debut for Theatre Banshee or one more in keeping with the spirit of why we do theatre.
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Program (or click here to download program as PDF file)

We created Theatre Banshee to provide a loud, clear voice in these times of social stagnation. Our mission is far-reaching: to revitalize American culture and the art form of theatre in particular by offering the public live entertainment which is challenging, engaging and affordable. As the digital age expands, it has become increasingly difficult to find quality live entertainment which is immediate and thought-provoking. We plan to accomplish this goal by producing a season which features classical and contemporary plays as well as new and experimental works by emerging authors. To reach as broad an audience as possible, we plan to present our plays to the public in traditional theatre venues and take theatre to audiences via an Outreach Program. The Outreach Program allows us to bring Theatre Banshee’s works to children, the elderly, the disabled and other groups who are often denied the experience of live theatre.

Theatre Banshee would like to recognize the generosity of the patrons whose donations helped make Eclipsed possible:
Ken & Sharon Baldwin
Roy & Patricia Disney
Nick & Lorie Gonia
Stephanie Blackburn
Stephanie Morey
Dr. & Mrs. Mihai Demetrescu
Don & Etheleen Coleman
Mark & Angela Anderson

Director’s Notes
Eclipsed is not a true story. It is a fictional account of a group unwed mothers, stripped of their children, deprived of their rights, working in service of the church. But although these specific characters are creations of the playwright, the Magdalene Laundries and the Penitent Women who worked them are completely real—a little known fact of modern Irish life. After the potato famine of the 1840’s the church, in conjunction with the state, set up 22 of these facilities ostensibly to house and care for these “fallen” women. For more than 120 years, women were “checked” into these facilities by family, lovers, and even employers. Once inside, they typically spent the rest of their lives “washing away the sins of the nation, while washing away their own sins,” bereft of even the most basic comforts.

The notion sounds strange and barbaric, yet the practise was maintained into the early 1970s. It was seen as a viable solution to a social problem. The state and families particularly were relieved of the burden of caring for these women or their children, and in exchange for providing these women with food and shelter, the church received an unpaid labor force to operate their laundries. While this draconian solution has been dispensed with, the problem of social responsibility remains.

Our current political rhetoric regularly features references to unwed mothers, teen pregnancy, deadbeat dads and welfare reform. All place additional burdens on our fiscally overburdened state. In an effort to be both pragmatic and popular, some of our legislators have promulgated the idea of bringing back the orphanage. If we put the children in an orphanage and put the mothers to work, then the state will be relieved cost of providing for these people. Would such a solution work? It was tried in Ireland.

The misery of the Penitent Women in Eclipsed could be blamed on the church, which, like many of our great and venerable institutions, carried out is goals without concern for the rights of the individuals whom it was ostensibly helping. Yet there are many unseen participants who share complicity in this crime. The government openly allowed the virtual slavery of the Magdalene Laundries and benefited from it. Fear of shame or a damaged reputation allowed families to turn their backs on their own daughters. The women’s families, employers, and particularly the women’s lovers shirked their responsibilities and quite literally disposed of the women at these facilities. And regular people, like you and me, knew this was going on and allowed it to continue.

There are no easy answers to social problems. There are solutions which address the cause of a problem and there are those which address the results of the problem. In forming our point of view on such a solutions, we ought to remember what it means to be eclipsed. -

Special Thanks
Chris & Suzanne Shoemaker
George Marsh
U.S. Postal Service
Burbank Paint
Mark’s Paint
Andrew H. Leman
Sharon & Ken Baldwin
Gloria Mercado
Le Conte Junior High School
Bruce Fortine
Alice Cunningham
Steven E. Einspahr
Greg O’Donoghue
Knott’s Berry Farm Entertainment Dept.
Fred DuPonte
Cypress College
Cathy Heskin

Playwright's Notes by Patricia Burke Brogan

From the time of the Potato Famine until the early 1970s, black smoke belched from twenty-two Magdalen laundry chimneys into our bruised Irish skies. Under double lock in pious laundry cages, the ”fallen“ women of Ireland, unmarried mothers, who had broken the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, washed the stench from our clothes. Despised and rejected by us, their brothers and sisters in Christ, they were called ”penitents“. Betrayed by lovers, signed in by parents, the women were separated from their children, who were either taken for adoption or enclosed in orphanages. In the laundries, the only shelter available to the penitents, they lived a spartan and loveless existence. Many became institutionalized, remained inmates for life and were buried in nameless graves.

The nuns, in charge of the laundries, were trapped by Famine-guilt attitudes of society and the rigidity of convent rules.

Questions concerning social justice and the responsibilities of unmarried fathers were rarely asked.

Eclipsed, except for the Prologue and Epilogue is set in 1963, when life-styles of the Swinging Sixties and the earthiness of Elvis Presley‘s Rock and Roll Music were causing a change of attitudes. The reforms of Vatican II and Christ‘s teaching ”You must love God with all your heart and soul and your neighbor as yourself“ slowly replaced our Irish pre-occupation with sins of the flesh. And as we bought washing machies for our homes, redundant laundry chimneys, barred windows and high walls came tumbling down.
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