13 June, 2021 //

The Dead Letter Office

As part of Ready, Steady, SHOW! Mary-Lou McCarthy will present a rehearsed reading of her play ‘The Dead Letter Office’ to 4th class students in Scoil Aoife, CityWest. Here, Mary-Lou describes how the project has been going for her…

‘In 2020, I received a commission through the Civic’s Ready, Steady, Show! programme to develop my play ‘The Dead Letter Office’. Throughout the past year I have been working with  dramaturg and director Veronica Coburn, examining the play’s themes, developing the story and exploring how digital technology might enhance the storytelling in the production. The play tells the story of Elizabeth who works in a Dead Letter Office solving the mysteries of the lost post. She has worked hard to keep the world out, but when she opens a box and finds a stranger inside her world is turned upside down. Through their love of stories Elizabeth and the stranger discover that they are not so different after all.  The play explores themes of migration, belonging and friendship for ages 9+.

As an emerging playwright the process has been exciting and challenging, as I interrogate complex and sometimes darker themes for young audiences. A full production of The Dead Letter Office in planned for 2022. As part of the commission I also participated in a digital programme over a 6-month period where we attended digital work and shows online and actively participated in sessions to discuss the work with other artists in the Ready, Steady, SHOW! programme. I participated in a digital hackathon at The Civic, received two mentorship sessions with XR producer Camille Donegan and a mentorship session with director and theatre-maker Anna Newell. Over this period we also developed and wrote an interactive audio installation for children aged 9+ entitled ‘Hassan’s Journey’, exploring migration and travel, and I hope to bring it to young audiences in the near future’.

Main Image September 22, 1922 (Photo: Library of congress) (Out of Copyright)

With Thanks to our Creative Consultant Schools: 
4th Class Scoil Aoife in Citywest
Presented by Mary-Lou McCarthy

Presented as part of Ready, Steady, SHOW! – The Civic’s ongoing programme of work for children and young people, across both LIVE and DIGITAL platforms which will lay the groundwork for a deeper exploration into our understanding of what our audiences needs are and, how we best support access to the arts as we emerge from the current crisis. The key focus for RSS! is, PLAY & STORYTELLING. These two cornerstones of excellence are our anchor in all areas of output and a focus for our artist development initiatives.


Kindly Supported by Arts Council Ireland and South Dublin County Council