The Traveller Movement and Solace Women’s Aid partnership project along with Giants Theatre Company, has joined forces with Gypsy, Traveller and Roma women to tell the story of domestic violence within the community.
Domestic violence and abuse is an issue for a large number of Gypsy and Traveller women in the UK; a 2007 study found that 81% of Irish Traveller women and 61% of English Gypsy women in married relationships had directly experienced domestic abuse.
Yet, a combination of traditional cultural values around relationships, low literacy rates and institutional barriers to services mean that it can be difficult for Gypsy and Traveller women to access support services.
The culmination of a yearlong project, which saw the theatre company and the Traveller Movement work with the women to write a play to increase awareness and understanding of domestic violence, within both communities and service providers.
The play itself tells the story of Moira Le Bas who is swept off her feet by the charming Patrick Murphy. Within a year Moira has left school and is starting a new life as Patrick’s wife, despite her cousin Bridie’s reservations. Twenty years later, it seems that Bridie was right and Moira is left wondering if she should have realised what Patrick was like when he promised: ‘I’m never going to beat you’.
Irish Traveller, Tina Purcell who is performing in the play said: “Through this play we’re hoping to make people aware and educate younger Travellers that domestic violence is not right and it shouldn’t happen.
A lot of people don’t realise domestic violence can kill, hopefully by seeing what happens to Moira, people will choose a different path. It’s been a mixed emotional process for all of the women taking part, but we’ve enjoyed it. I’m nervous but looking forward to the big night!”
Yvonne MacNamara CEO of the Traveller Movement said: “‘Never Going to Beat You’ is a raw and personal piece of community drama. With a cast formed of Gypsy and Traveller women alongside actor Paul McGuinness, the play is an authentic look at the realities of domestic violence within these communities”.
She added: “This play will not only benefit the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma community but will also be a helpful step in helping service providers understand the realities of domestic violence within these communities.”
Jennie Buckman of Giants Theatre Company, who co-wrote the play, said:
“Working with the women in writing and rehearsing the play has been a fantastic experience. Stories such as these are best told by members of the affected community, and this is why ‘never going to beat you’ is such a powerful production.”