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Permanent Deadweight


  • Playwright

    John P Rooney 

  • Author Notes

    The play and post-performance workshop were devised in conjunction with the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland.

  • Setting

    A Belfast school in 1991.

  • Notes

    A play for 14-18-year-olds.

  • Synopsis

    Between 1848 and 1851, more than 4,000 female orphans were sent from Irish workhouses to Australia. Their subsequent history is one of exploitation and abuse. Set in a Belfast school in 1991, Permanent Deadweight uses the play-within-a-play technique to tell this story. The play is seen through the eyes of four contemporary schoolgirls - all permanent residents of the school's withdrawal unit. Stumbling accidentally into the rehearsal room for the school play these modern-day 'sin bin' girls discover they have more in common with the production's orphan protagonists than they think.

  • Play Type

    Theatre for Young Audiences

    Number Of Acts


  • Cast Size Female



  • Date of First Production

    16 September 1991

  • Producer

    Produced by Replay Theatre Company

  • Original Venue

  • Venue Notes

    This play was first performed at the Down County Museum as part of a tour to schools and venues.

Original Cast  
Various Characters Sheelagh O'Kane
Various Characters Eileen McCloskey
Various Characters Gillian Ievers
Various Characters Abbie Spallen
Production Team  
Director Brenda Winter
Designer Frank Quinn
Lighting Designer John Riddell
Composer Debra Salem
Stage Manager Frank Quinn
Secretary Irene Swift


  • Contact

    Theatre and Performing Arts Archive of Northern Ireland

  • Address

    The Linen Hall Library, 17 Donegall Square North
    Belfast BT1 5GB
    Northern Ireland


  • Territory

    All Territories

  • Rights Type

    All Rights

  • Contact

    Replay Theatre Company

  • Address

    Skainos Square, 239 Newtownards Road
    Belfast BT4 1AF
    Co. Antrim
    Northern Ireland

  • Phone

    + 44 (0) 28 9045 4562

  • Email

  • Website


The information for this entry was taken from the original production programme. Additional information was supplied by Replay Productions from information contained in the company files.