Ladies and Gentlemen was the second play by Emma Donoghue to be performed at Project Arts Centre. It was based on the true story of Annie Hindle (1854–c.1900), a male impersonator who had become a well-known performer in England before moving to the US. Whilst touring in America, she met Charles Vivian, an English comedian and, in 1868, not long after meeting, the pair were married, but separated after only weeks. Hindle and Vivian had little or no contact after their separation and never divorced. Vivian died in 1880.
Hindle had a number of female dressers over the years to help her prepare before going on stage, one of whom was a young Irish woman named Annie Ryan. In 1986, following one of her performances, the couple convinced a minister to marry them. Hindle, dressed in male clothing, told the minister that her name was Charles, and so he agreed to conduct the ceremony. The couple lived together until Ryan’s death in 1891 (The Sun, New York 1891). The play was narrated by the character of Hindle as a series of memories.
(Text adapted from “Foul, Filthy, Stinking Muck”: The LGBT Theatre of Project Arts Centre, 1966 to 2000 by Hannah Tiernan, 2019)
This reading of selected scenes from the play was recorded as part of the ‘Foul, Filthy, Stinking Muck’ symposium at Project Arts Centre on 4th June 2019.
The role of Annie Hindle is performed by Noelle Brown (Noelle also played this role in the original 1996 production) and Annie Ryan/Ryanny is played by Nicola Kavanagh. The performance was directed by Phillip McMahon.
Permission is courtesy of Emma Donoghue.