Introducing Jade Thomson as Nora Barnacle and Tom Galashan as James Joyce
In autumn 1909 the Irish writer James Joyce returned temporarily to his home city of Dublin from the Italian port-city of Trieste where he had been living for four years with his partner Nora and their two children.
Soon after his arrival Joyce was psychologically mugged by an old friend who claimed that he had enjoyed Nora’s favours back in 1904, after she and Joyce had committed to each other.
The anguished letters Joyce wrote to Nora back in Trieste have been preserved, and the intense emotions he experienced during this episode fed into all his subsequent work. There has never been any evidence of a reply from Nora, or any sense of how she might have responded to Joyce’s accusations of betrayal.
This play imagines that response.
Unmarried, unskilled, exiled, mother of two illegitimate children - Nora Barnacle was in an extremely vulnerable position in Trieste in 1909 when Joyce’s first letter dropped though her letterbox. Her experience reverberates throughout a century in which women have had to fight for recognition on a wide range of fronts – legal, emotional, cultural. Nora’s experience is universal; her fight is ours.