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Framingham State University - Framingham, MA

“What would you risk to save the life of someone you love?”

The Story:

Mother’s Bliss, Mother’s Woe is a full length drama, filled with magical realism is set in the First Ward (Irish Ghetto) of Buffalo, NY in 1871, but it is teaming with the conflicts many Americans struggle with today : women’s rights; immigration; friction between religion and science/medicine; the challenges faced by the mentally ill and the families who care for them; and what we will risk to save the life of someone we love. It is 1871 in Buffalo’s First Ward and Mary Ryan, a young woman who escaped a terrifying traumatic life in an Ireland decimated by the Great Famine, has lost four of her children to a diphtheria epidemic. Mary is slipping into the safety of her imaginary world that is peopled with the “protectors” she created as a child. Knowing she can no longer delay her descent into 

madness or rely on her overworked husband and teenage children to help her, Mary reaches out to her older sister Peg, a nun who has recently returned from France and study with neurologist Jean Martine Charcot. Peg and Mary battle against a dogma driven Catholic priest, the Saints in Mary’s mind, and the desperate poverty of Buffalo’s First Ward as they explore a radical treatment in the hope of saving Mary’s life.

“Mother’s Bliss Mother’s Woe is a heartwarming play about family, love and courage. Although the immigrants in this play are Irish who arrived in America in the mid-1800’s, the story of the American immigrant and the hardships they face still resonate today. These characters are survivors. Peg and Mary are extremely gifted and bright. They discover a way to persist and thrive in a world that is very challenging - especially for women. The play celebrates the music, humor and strong sense of pride in community that has helped the Irish (and so many other cultures) survive through the centuries. The play was inspired by tales I heard of my great grandmother. As the play grew and developed, it was strongly influenced by the disturbing demonization of immigrants by many of our elected officials - many of whom have Irish surnames - whose families were the “unwanted” poor immigrants who were seen as “freeloaders” not that long ago.” 

Written & Directed by: Kate Caffrey

Scenic Design: Janie Howland

Costume Design: Lila West 

Lighting Design: Erik Fox











For more info visit:

The New Play Exchange

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