Projects: Julie McNamara – The Knitting Circle

A monologue and two scenes with visual footage edited from the touring production: The Knitting Circle, a haunting piece in honour of the lost voices from the hidden worlds of the long care system in the UK and Ireland.

Created from authentic survivor testimonies, all names and recognisable identities have been removed to protect the contributors and their families, although it should be noted that many of the storytellers who gifted their stories would prefer to name and shame the perpetrators of the decimation of human rights within the walls of those old asylums. There is no doubt that acts of great evil were committed inside those institutions originally intended for the care and containment of some of our most vulnerable people in society. And let there be no doubt that legislation at the time supported the distorted culture of care inside that system.

“Shame silences.They expected us to remain silent. But we lived to tell the tale.” Mary, survivor 80

The work explores themes of institutional histories, religion and the state, power and violence, disability and exclusion within a system designed during an era of moral panics. Women were confined for the most spurious of reasons. A woman who had been institutionalised for stealing a bicycle at the age of 9 had served 48 years before being considered for discharge. There were many women who had been put away for having a child ‘out of wedlock’, women who had been sexually abused within their families, whose notes were doctored and identities changed. These were people who were simply discarded as social outcasts and contained in large institutions at long distance from their original birthplace.

“It was the mischief that got us through. That and the love we had for each other” Nan, 72

Dates and Location

 Empire 2, Hackney Empire Theatre, London Dates – TBC


0044 (0)208 123 9945

About the Artist(s)

Director – Paulette Randall, (Co-Director of Opening Ceremony Olympics 2012)

Actors: Penelope Freeman, Julie McNamara

Film & Visuals: Caglar Kimyoncu & Zeynep Dagli (filmpro Studios)

Julie McNamara is an award winning playwright and an outspoken activist on the disability arts circuit. Her work is driven by a search for social justice, shedding light on unheard stories, stripping bare layers of untruths to reveal some uncomfortable realities. Her mantra – every voice deserves a hearing, Every voice matters.

Contact and Further information /


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