Women War and Peace Book Launch

Published On 27 October, 2016 | Latest News

Launch at Mansion House of Women War and Peace Book

– Women’s Stories of WWII

The Women War and Peace Research and Resource digital book featuring women’s stories of WWII from Ireland, Spain, Germany and Poland, and a foreword by Marian Harkin, MEP, was launched at the Oak Room, the Mansion House, 2 Dawson Street, Dublin on 8 November 2016 by Mary Lawlor, Front Line Defenders.

Also speaking at the launch were Cllr Rebecca Moynihan, Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, and Mary Moynihan, Artistic Director, Smashing Times Theatre Company and Lecturer, BA in Drama (Performance), Conservatory of Music and Drama, DIT. Smashing Times were delighted to have Fernando Benavente, IFES, Spain, attend and the company were particularly delighted to welcome Mark Elmes, cousin of Mary Elmes.

In addition to guest speakers, the launch featured a performance of Mary Elmes by Roisin McAtamney and a clip from the short film Tell Them Our Names featuring Dolores Ibarurri performed by Margaret Toomey, currently being distributed to festivals worldwide. The performance and film were inspired by a selection of the women’s stories featured in the Women War and Peace book. The screenplay for the short film was written by Mary Moynihan, Paul Kennedy and Fiona Bawn Thompson from a devising process with the actors Raymond Keane, Fiona Bawn Thompson, Romana Testasecca, Margaret Toomey, Ella Brady and Mary Moynihan. The film features re-imagined moments from the lives of powerful women during WWII and the women are Marta Hillers, Germany, Mary Elmes, Ireland, Maria Eugenia Jasińska from Łódź in Poland; Neus Català Pallejà and Dolores Ibarurri, La Pasionaria, from Spain.

The MC for the evening was Freda Manweiler, Company Manager, Smashing Times Theatre Company. Freda opened proceedings by welcoming everyone to the launch and especially welcomed all those who watched the launch live as part of a European webinar.

Firstly Freda introduce Cllr Rebecca Moynihan, Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin. On behalf of Smashing Times Theatre Company, Freda extended our sincerest thanks to the Mansion House for having us here today and to Rebecca for coming to open the proceedings. Cllr Rebecca Moynihan was elected Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin in June 2016. Rebecca is currently a Labour City Councillor for the South West Inner City area of Dublin.

Then Freda introduced the key note speaker for the evening, human rights activist Mary Lawlor of Front Line Defenders.

Mary Lawlor originally set up Front Line Defenders – the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders – in 2001, an organization that focuses on human rights defenders at risk who work non-violently for the rights of others as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The aim is to protect defenders of human rights and provide them with “round the clock” practical support so that they can continue their work to build civil and just societies. Prior to Front Line, Mary was Director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International.

Mary Lawlor has a BA in Psychology and Philosophy and postgraduate degrees in Montessori Teaching and Personnel Management. In 2007, Front Line Defenders was awarded the King Baudouin International Development Prize. The following year, Mary Lawlor was awarded the Irish Life WMB Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2008. In 2011, she received the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year Special Recognition Award. In 2014 she was awarded the French insignia of Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d ́Honneur. In 2014 she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor in Laws from TCD.

The final speaker was Mary Moynihan, Theatre and Film Maker, and Artistic Director of Smashing Times Theatre Company and a theatre lecturer at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. Mary is one of the writers and directors who created The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of 1916 and the short film Tell Them Our Names, and Mary is the editor of the Women War and Peace digital Book.

Freda then introduced a performance of Mary Elmes from The Woman is Present Women’s Stories of WWII by Mary Moynihan, Fiona Bawn Thompson and Paul Kennedy, performed by Róisín Mc Atamney . In this piece we hear about the life of Mary Elmes from Ireland who travels to Spain during the Spanish Civil War and then to France during WWII to work with Spanish refugees and with Jewish people incarcerated by the Nazi regime.

 Freda then introduced a short clip from the film Tell Them Our Names scripted by Paul Kennedy, Mary Moynihan and Fiona Bawn Thompson, directed by Mary Moynihan and edited by Mark Quinn of Hire Wire Productions. In this clip we see Margaret Toomey performing as Dolores Ibarruri La Passionaria from Spain and also performing is Ella Brady.

The Spanish Civil War foreshadowed World War II. By 1939 the fascists led by Francisco Franco, leader of the nationalist forces, with the support of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in addition to the rich and the Catholic Church, won the Spanish Civil War and overthrew the Spanish democratic Republic, subjecting the Spanish people to a cruel and oppressive dictatorship that was to last until Franco’s death in 1976. Dolores Ibárruri was a well-known Spanish revolutionary leader who fought against Franco. She was an excellent orator, a political activist and supporter of communism. She was a parliamentary deputy in Spain and fought for women’s rights. In her writings Dolores promoted the active and equal involvement of women in resistance and spoke out against the traditional role of a woman as solely a wife and mother. Dolores wrote her life story in her autobiography They Shall Not Pass.

To complete the evening Freda welcomed actor and founding member of Smashing Times Theatre Company Margaret Toomey on stage to perform What I will by Suheir Hammad, Palestinian American poet and activist.

Freda welcomed Mark Elmes, cousin of Mary Elmes, who had travelled to the event from Cork. The company were particularly honoured to welcome Mark who attended on behalf of the Elmes family. The company also welcomed Fernando Benavente, one of the Spanish partners, who came on stage to speak about the Women War and Peace project.

Smashing Times thanked Cllr Rebecca Moynihan, Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin and all the staff at the Mansion House for their amazing welcome and support. The company offered a special thanks to Mary Lawlor of Front Line Defenders and to Mary Moynihan, Margaret Toomey and Roisin Mc Atamney of Smashing Times and to EM Creative Designs for the fantastic work on the Women War and Peace Digital Book. A special thanks was offered to Mark Elmes, cousin of Mary Elmes who travelled from Cork to join the launch.

Feedback from Women War and Peace Book Launch

 ‘It was a truly inspiring event. I was shocked to realize how little we know about the women of our past, we need to do more.’ Laura Brady

 ‘I have been involved in European projects for years but this was definitely one of my favourites’. Fernando Benavente

 ‘The speakers and performances were truly inspiring. Such an important event I can’t wait to read the book now!’ Ciara Smith

 ‘I never thought about the power of theatre and drama in promoting peace and human rights but after listening to the speakers and seeing the performances I have realized the value of the work Smashing Times are carrying out’ Sinead Heavin

 ‘The women’s stories were inspirational and unfortunately reflected what is still happening today’ Carla Ryan

‘It was great to get the opportunity to listen to these women’s stories that too often we don’t hear about’ Jack Covaliero

 For more information on the project and book, view our Women War and Peace main page.

For further information and photos contact Freda Manweiler

Smashing Times Theatre Company Ltd
Tel: + 353 (0) 1 865 6613   Tel: + 353 (0) 87 221 4245
Email: freda@smashingtimes.ie  Website: www.smashingtimes.ie
Facebook: www.facebook.com/smashingtimestheatrecompany
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Smashing_Times

 

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