Coming to Powerstories Theatre’s stage on April 28 – May 15 is the harrowing drama, CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE: THE MAGDALENE LAUNDRIES, telling the true story of young women in Ireland being sent to work in laundries of Catholic Churches.

Powerstories Theatre is the first to debut this powerful play in the Tampa Bay area.

Theatre Founder Fran Powers learned about the Magdalene Laundries from a tour guide while visiting Ireland.

“When I first learned of the Magdalene Laundries, I assumed they occurred in the Dark Ages. I was stunned to hear the last one closed its doors in 1996. I asked myself, ‘why had I not heard of this degrading inhumane treatment before?’ Even today, nine out of ten people I ask about the Magdalene Laundries know nothing about this travesty towards women. It truly is a conspiracy of silence.”

The Magdalene Laundries, also known as Magdalene Asylums, operated from the 18th to the late 20th centuries. An estimated 30,000 women and girls were confined in these workhouse institutions in Ireland, many for most of their lives. In 1993, unmarked graves of 155 women were uncovered on the convent grounds of one of the laundries.

In the play CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE, Rosemary is an unruly sixteen-year-old girl whose strict father fears is soiling the family’s good name. She is abandoned at the Irish laundries under the pretense that he is taking her to a “strict” convent school to finish her high-school education. Instead, she finds herself a prisoner, overworked, underfed, and physically and mentally abused by the Magdalene Sisters.

Fran is excited to continue the success of the live-streamed performances of the 2021 and 2022 Voices theatre festivals and has secured the live stream rights of this thought-provoking play. Patrons can enjoy the play live in the theatre during its run or watch it from their homes each Saturday night and closing Sunday night.

Directed by Fran, the play features Elena Tarpley as Rosemary Healey, Elyse Mulholland as Chrissie Healey, Christine Kent as Mam, Chris Tarpley as Da, Faith House as Cath, Cara Percoco as Brogie, Michelle Chrein as Heather/Cassie/Paulie, Molly Dakota Ganong as Molly/Marie, and Eliany Figuerro as Patricia/Colleen/Fanny.

To bring authenticity to each role, the cast is working with Ami Sallee, dialect coach and Sarah Berland, stage combat choreographer.

“CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE sheds light on the harrowing stories of physical and psychological abuse of women who had been incarcerated in Irelands Magdalene Laundries. At Powerstories, we are driven to amplify true stories of courage, survival, and hope. We are honored to give voice to their stories. Women in the laundries were often punished if they spoke above a whisper. As we start each rehearsal, l remind the cast that this show is for all the women in the institutions, so they need to whisper no more,” said Fran. “We are so excited to be producing this. Years ago, when my tour guide in Ireland learned that I had a theatre that specializes in true stories, he pleaded with me to someday tell this story on our stage. That day has finally come.”

CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE: THE MAGDALENE LAUNDRIES is at Powerstories Theatre, 2105 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, from April 28-May 15, Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets are $25 and $20 for seniors, students, and military. Tickets are $20 for live stream on Saturdays and final Sunday night. Learn more and purchase tickets at powerstories.com/season-of-shows.