Amy de Bhrún is passionate about shedding light on fascinating women from Irish history whose stories may otherwise go untold. Amy has written a play about the 20th century aviator Lady Mary Heath, and has started a Fundit campaign to bring the production to the Theatre Upstairs in Dublin in May. Here, she explains why Lady Heath’s story deserves to be told.
Amy, how did you come across Lady Mary?
A couple of years ago, I was approached by the founder of ‘Herstory’ Melanie Lynch. Herstory is a creative movement dedicated to reclaiming the forgotten stories of Irish women. After seeing my work, Melanie thought that Lady Mary and I had a lot in common and presented me with her as a potential character to write about. Lady Mary Heath had achieved so much in her field but for some reason was never truly 'seen' or recognised for it. Melanie instantly drew a parallel that although I had played numerous roles in notable TV shows and movies, and produced six different one woman shows on an international level - it was relatively unacknowledged in my home country. This instantly resonated with me.
Who was Lady Mary?
Lady Mary Heath was an aviator, who was born in Limerick in 1896. When she was a baby, her father bludgeoned her mother to death. She was married three times, which was unheard of in the early 1900s. She was an accomplished athlete who campaigned for women to compete in the Olympics. She was the world’s first female commercial pilot, who also was the first to fly the length of Africa without a co-pilot.
What is the show about?
I See You is about two women, one century apart with the same story. “I See You” explores the life of Lady Mary Heath, set against the backdrop of a Modern Mary one hundred years later. It is an immersive and female led piece of theatre, which asks, if we let these women’s stories fade into the walls of history, who are our role models?
What was it like to write your own show?
It is an incredibly liberating experience. I was able to write two well-formed, three dimensional female characters who I would love to play. Writing can be extremely cathartic, and I enjoyed every moment of it. It felt like I was a vessel bringing forth these inspiring women’s stories into the light.
How does it feel to be taking the leap from one woman shows to crowdfunding this production?
It feels very exposing and a little scary if I’m honest! With my one-woman shows, there was no one else to answer to. I just kept the head down and got the work done. So when you open yourself up to the world and say “hey, please donate some of your hard earned cash - because I think this is an important story” – you can feel very vulnerable. That said, I am looking forward to collaborating with talented artists at the top of their game. There is a lot of support out there and I can’t wait to get cracking!
Why do you feel it is important to bring stories like Lady Heath’s to the stage?
We live in a world where people become famous, for being famous. Lady Mary Heath achieved so much in her short life and is an inspiration to women (and men!) everywhere. Her entire life was against all odds. In order for today’s women to break out of this cycle of suppression, we need to learn from the stories of trailblazing women who went before us. If these stories go untold… then who are we to look up to? How can we possible break the cycle? And that is why Lady Mary’s story needs to be brought to light.
Watch the promo for I See You here:
If you liked this you might like:
Inform | Inspire | Indulge