About the Play:
The Clearing is a full-length drama by Helen Edmundson. A powerful play about the effects of Oliver Cromwell's military campaign in Ireland – a ruthless conquest whose folk memories still sit uncomfortably in the Irish psyche.
The Clearing is set in Ireland three years after the end of the English Civil War when Cromwell's men are systematically transporting women and children to the colonies and driving both Royalists and Irish families from their homes in preparation for British settlement. Thousands of Irish citizens are executed, shipped to the West Indies or forced to relocate to the barren wastelands of Connaught – a seventeenth century version of ethnic cleansing. Against a background of brutality, suffering and deprivation, this powerful drama explores the themes of alienation and the conflict of culture whilst highlighting the essential truth that racial persecution springs from fear. The central characters are an English aristocrat and his Irish-Catholic wife whose passionate and loving relationship is changed irrevocably by the moral dilemmas they must face. The Clearing is a stunning tale of treachery, romance and passion set in seventeenth century Ireland.
The Clearing is one of Helen Edmundson's earliest professionally produced works; it premiered at the Bush Theatre in 1993, and won a Time Out Award and the John Whiting Award for Best New Play. It has since been staged Off-Broadway (1999) and at the Oxford Playhouse (2002).
Cast: 3 women, 7 men (or 5 men with doubling)
What people say:
"Oliver Cromwell may be remembered in England as one of the great social reformers, but in Ireland his name is quite justly as potent a symbol of historical racial persecution as Adolf Hitler. Edmundson ... gently personalises her theme, showing its devastating effects on one small farming community." — Daily Mail
"Edmundson's writing is passionate, poetic, muscular... She is doing for 17th-century Anglo-Irish history what Arthur Miller did for 17th-century New England history in The Crucible: creating an idiom which resurrects the past but brings its conflicts with touching distance of the present." — Sunday Times
"...the kind of narrative energy a 19th-century novelist would have envied... Edmundson is well worth watching." — The Times
"A finely written play, full of sharp observation." — Independent on Sunday
"All praise to Helen Edmundson, whose The Clearing deals with a 17th-century forerunner of 'ethnic cleansing,' that period in Ireland when Cromwell planted the seeds of the troubles that still afflict the country today… It is a story of romance, passion and treachery." — The Stage (London)
About the Playwright:
Helen Edmundson is is a multi-award-winning English playwright particularly well known for her award winning adaptations of various classic novels for the stage, including Anna Karenina, and The Mill on the Floss. In addition to adaptations, her original stage work includes The Clearing (winner of the John Whiting Award for Best New Play).