Beyond Verbatim: Dramatizing the Search for Jean McConville

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/

Abstract

In December 1972, as the bloodiest year of the conflict in Northern Ireland drew to its close, Jean McConville, a thirty-seven-year-old widowed mother of ten, was taken from her home in Belfast. A gang of men and women had entered the family home in the Divis Flats area of the city, and dragged Jean from her bath. In front of her terrified children, they bundled her into a van and took her away. Her family never saw her again. Her body was buried, some sixty odd miles from where she was taken, and for almost thirty years, the IRA denied having anything to do with her disappearance. After Jean’s remains were officially identified, her family laid their mother’s body to rest with that of her husband in Lisburn (October 2003). Our Lady of the Goldfinches emerges from Jane McNulty’s friendship with Jean’s daughter, Helen, who cannot find peace of mind, even now. Jane writes of Helen, “She needs to know details: when did her mother die, the night of her abduction, or some time later? Where did she spend those last hours and moments, and how? Who killed Jean McConville and who ordered her killing? And why?” This essay combines a critique of contemporary documentary theatre practice with an account of the creation of a play which explores these events and the questions to which they give rise. 

Keywords

Jean McConville, Verbatim Theatre, Disappeared, Northern Irish Drama

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)