Woman Undone by Brokentalkers: Activism with a Difference


  • Helena Young University College Dublin




Postdramatic, Gender, Patriarchy, Embodied Trauma


Brokentalkers theatre company first set up in 2001 may be described as a fearless, innovative organisation which has from the outset tried to balance the inequalities prevalent in Irish society. It comprises of Feidlim Cannon and Gary Keegan who describe their ethos as to devise original, accessible live performance and explore new forms that challenge traditional ideologies of text-based theatre. They use the postdramatic medium in order to convey the urgency of a particular situation and in line with this, their performances can often include slapstick, violent physical action, pop cultures, breaking of the illusion and hysterical outbursts from the actors. One of their more recent performances, Woman Undone, which premiered in 2018, is an impactful reimagining and reconstruction of an aspect of blues singer, Mary Coughlan’s life. This essay investigates the use of dramaturgical strategies such as musicality, bodily movement and cross gender casting in the performance in order to highlight the situation of those who have been abused in Ireland. The microcosm of one well known woman’s experience is brought to the macrocosm of society to educate and enlighten all women.

Author Biography

  • Helena Young, University College Dublin

    Helena Young is currently a PhD student at University College Dublin (Ireland) and recently completed a Masters in Drama and Performance there having previously achieved one in Anglo Irish Literature and Drama. She is presently a tutor in Drama Studies in the U.C.D School of English, Drama and Film and her research interest is investigating Irish theatre company, Brokentalkers’ political and social activist role.


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The Works Presents - Louise O’Neill | RTÉ - YouTube




How to Cite

Young, H. (2023). Woman Undone by Brokentalkers: Activism with a Difference. ABEI Journal, 25(2), 101-117. https://doi.org/10.11606/issn.2595-8127.v25i2p101-117