Margaret McCarthy

Margaret McCarthy

Margaret McCarthy comes to playwriting through her fascination with mythology, and theatre as the first place we relive our stories. She sees “the hero’s journey” in contemporary, everyday life; in the heroes and heroines of legend she sees the struggles of the average human being. The female characters of myth are a continuing source of inspiration for her creative work; her plays give them voice to tell...
Margaret McCarthy comes to playwriting through her fascination with mythology, and theatre as the first place we relive our stories. She sees “the hero’s journey” in contemporary, everyday life; in the heroes and heroines of legend she sees the struggles of the average human being. The female characters of myth are a continuing source of inspiration for her creative work; her plays give them voice to tell their own story. Her goals: putting women – younger and older – on the stage in great, meaty roles; creating great female characters who carry women’s wisdom. Her use of heightened language monologue spices colloquial dialogue. McCarthy understands the stage as the original home for poetry and theatre / performance as its natural medium.

McCarthy’s background as a working photographer influences her way of telling stories; her plays strive to meld the pleasure of the ear and the eye.

THE SACRIFICIAL KING: A PLAY FOR JOHN LENNON was given a New York City production by The World 3 Theatre Company, preceded by staged readings at The English Speaking Union in New York City and Duke University, N.C. In both 2016 and 2009, the young theatre artists of Duxbury High School’s Thespian Troup chose this script (of any) to perform as their entry to The Boston Globe’s Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG) Festival. Their productions at Boston’s John Hancock Theatre took festival awards.

DEIRDRE RETROGRADE, based on the heroine of Irish myth, resulted from McCarthy’s ongoing involvement with the literature of women in Celtic myth. The play was read at La Mama Theatre, NYC, as part of
its Experiments Reading Series, and as part of Dreamcatcher Entertainment’s Talent On Tap Reading Series.

Her poetry collection NOTEBOOKS FROM MYSTERY SCHOOL (Finishing Line Press, 2015) was a New Women’s Voices Award finalist.

Her work has been featured and performed in programs at Poetic Theatre Productions (RESILIENCE 2019, BAILOUT 2016), LaMama Theatre, The Hudson Valley Writers Association, The English Speaking Union, and Irish American Writers and Artists (IAW&A) monthly salons at The Cell Theatre, NYC.

McCarthy’s writing has appeared in numerous literary magazines, journals and anthologies including The Pagan Muse: Poems of Ritual and Inspiration (Kensington Publishing), Cyphers Literary Magazine (Ireland), Working Papers in Irish Studies (Nova SouthEastern U.), HIV HERE AND NOW ON-LINE POETRY PROJECT, Home Planet News, Gargoyle Magazine, Shaking Like A Mountain: On line Literature about Contemporary Music, Poets and Peace International, California State Poetry Society Quarterly and Poetry New Zealand to name a few.

She has been a guest artist in residence at The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Ragdale Foundation and The Hambidge Center, all of which have awarded her writing fellowships.

She is a member of The Dramatists Guild, PEN America and The Authors Guild.

McCarthy works as a professional photographer in New York City; her landscape photographs and images based on Celtic myth have been widely exhibited. She publishes a broadside designed for the web,
A VISION AND A VERSE (www.avisionandaverse.com) combining her imagery and verse.

Plays

  • JULY IN HADES
    A drama/comedy about aging, Alzheimer’s, dying, the afterlife, and the mother-daughter relationship.

    After the death of her mother, July searches for answers around her loss. In a role reversal of the classic myth, the daughter finds herself journeying to the underworld, going “to Hell and back” to find her mother. Can she insure her mother’s safe passage / transition? Can July find her own way...
    A drama/comedy about aging, Alzheimer’s, dying, the afterlife, and the mother-daughter relationship.

    After the death of her mother, July searches for answers around her loss. In a role reversal of the classic myth, the daughter finds herself journeying to the underworld, going “to Hell and back” to find her mother. Can she insure her mother’s safe passage / transition? Can July find her own way out of Hades? Will she lose herself in the underworld?

    The play explores the mother-daughter bond between July and her mother and the goddesses Persephone and Demeter. How do those bonds cut cross generations and time? Can mending those bonds help guide us in our dire moment of climate crisis on planet earth? Can the ancient world still teach us anything? Are gods and goddesses really any smarter than mortals?

    In a current day nursing home, those goddesses and gods of myth step in and out of our workaday world; contemporary humans interact with them -- sometimes recognizing them, sometimes not -– with surprising and humorous outcomes.
  • DEIRDRE RETROGRADE
    A witch. A king. A prophecy. A frustrated beauty takes her destiny – and her man –
    into her own hands. An elopement. Revenge. Betrayal. Magic. The power of the spoken word. These elements simmer and boil over in the cauldron that is Deirdre’s story.

    Deirdre, the heroine of Irish myth, takes charge of her own life by defying a prophecy made at her birth. With humor and pathos, a...
    A witch. A king. A prophecy. A frustrated beauty takes her destiny – and her man –
    into her own hands. An elopement. Revenge. Betrayal. Magic. The power of the spoken word. These elements simmer and boil over in the cauldron that is Deirdre’s story.

    Deirdre, the heroine of Irish myth, takes charge of her own life by defying a prophecy made at her birth. With humor and pathos, a secluded adolescent girl “finds her voice”. She awakens to life, love and her own creativity by using the power of her own words as magic language -- poetry as spell-casting.

    Raised in seclusion, the female Druid and witch Levorcham is Deirdre’s spiritual guide, educating her in magic. Levorcham invites us into the circle she casts; the events in the play happen“ in and out of time”, a kind of time travel.

    Defying efforts to control her, Deirdre runs off with the man she chooses - the warrior, Nye. They are pursed across continents by Conchobor, the King she was promised to, who seems to relent and forgive, only to betray them. Guided by her intuition, it is the story of Deirdre’s autonomy even when her fortunes turn.

    Springing from Levorcham’s cauldron, the characters in this ancient Irish myth re-live their story to understand the forces still binding them. They are being tested: free will versus fate, independence versus duty, jealousy versus unconditional love, revenge versus forgiveness. They know they are being tested; does that help them make better choices this time around?

    Exploring our ideas about beauty and power, learning and forgiveness, the play asks: Can a prophecy be outwitted? How many times must we repeat our mistakes in order to learn? Just how hard is it to forgive each other? Can we forgive or is this a journey we're bound to keep repeating?

    A classic Celtic romance in the genre of Tristan and Isolde, Deirdre’s story goes further: it celebrates the driving, creative female spirit as a harbinger of love, knowledge and change.

  • THE SACRIFICIAL KING: A PLAY FOR JOHN LENNON / Alternate working title: IN MY LIFE
    This play about art, creativity and imagination parallels scenes from the life of John Lennon and a teen girl who is a Beatle fan and an aspiring young artist herself. As she comes of age during that explosive era, the teen daughter’s idealism clashes with her working class mother’s common sense realism. Amidst the social and political turbulence of the time, both artists find family expectations and loyalty...
    This play about art, creativity and imagination parallels scenes from the life of John Lennon and a teen girl who is a Beatle fan and an aspiring young artist herself. As she comes of age during that explosive era, the teen daughter’s idealism clashes with her working class mother’s common sense realism. Amidst the social and political turbulence of the time, both artists find family expectations and loyalty to best friends test the creative paths they must follow. Ultimately, both must confront what fame, or its lack, means to them. Does fame create an aura of obscene ownership? Was it ever different? The play’s over-riding question: What in our nature causes us to build up and then tear down our heroes? This ancient part of the human psyche - our need to "scapegoat" - is explored as it’s acted out in our own contemporary culture.