Frances Baker Farrell, Lettice Ramsey, and Máirín Hayes
Indigenous Irish cinema of the silent period (1916-1935) consisted of two waves, 1916-1926 and 1930-1935. Each wave drew filmmakers from both the theatrical and private sectors, with Irish theatre shaping cinematic content and style. The Abbey Theatre artists contributed to the theatrical, highly-charged nationalist films of the first wave, while the Gate Theatre artists strove to experiment in both style and content in the second wave. Formed by Micheál MácLiammóir and Hilton Edwards as an alternative to the Abbey in 1929, the Gate focused on more “modern and progressive plays unfettered by theatrical convention,” according to writer and theatregoer Joseph Holloway (39). This artistic vision carried over into Ireland’s last two silent films of the 1930s, Some Say Chance (1934) and Guests of the Nation (1935), both of which showcased the work of women pioneers. Siblings Frances Baker Farrell and Lettice Ramsey designed the indoor sets and scouted outdoor locations for Some Say Chance, which featured Gate actor Máirín Hayes in a small role. Baker Farrell’s husband, Irish novelist Michael Farrell, wrote, directed, and produced Some Say Chance and served as a cameraman on Guests of the Nation. Hayes edited the latter film with director and Gate playwright Denis Johnston. According to scholars, these three women worked on films that offered a contemporary, more realistic, and less nationalist image of Ireland than the pre-1930 films.
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