Liverpool playwright Lizzie Nunnery presents To Have to Shoot Irishmen

Posted on 13 September 2018
By Khyle Deen
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Fresh from her Everyman Company 2017 production of The Sum and acclaimed play Narvik, winning last year’s Best New Play Award at the UK Theatre Awards, Liverpool playwright and songwriter Lizzie Nunnery returns to the Everyman to premiere her new play with songs To Have to Shoot Irishmen.

Inspired by the true murder of Irish pacifist Francis Sheehy Skeffington by a British soldier during the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, the new play explores fractured national identity and the chaotic legacy of British military intervention.

Directed by Gemma Kerr and produced by Lizzie Nunnery’s Almanac Arts, To Have to Shoot Irishmen will visit the Everyman as part of the Liverpool Irish Festival from Thursday 25 to Saturday 27 October.

To Have to Shoot Irishmen explores the events around Sheehy Skeffington’s death during the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916. As his rebel friends were out with guns seizing public buildings, and declaring a free Ireland, Skeffington was walking the streets calling for peace and preventing looting. While crossing a bridge Frank was pulled from the crowd, arrested without charge, held for two days then executed under orders from British soldier, Captain John Bowen Colthurst.

The new play conjures the shattering impact of those events on his wife and feminist activist Hanna, on William the teenage soldier who guarded Frank, and on Vane the rebellious commander who bears the news of Frank’s death to Hanna.

Merging fictionalized scenes with historic document, and traditional songs with original music and movement, To Have to Shoot Irishmen is a fluid and absorbing performance that interrogates history to ask vital contemporary questions.

The production is designed by LIPA graduate Rachel Rooney in her first professional theatre and original music and songs are composed by Vidar Norheim and Lizzie Nunnery, who also created music for Everyman Company 2017 production The Sum.

Lizzie Nunnery said: “To Have to Shoot Irishmen has been a long-term labour of love. In 2007 I stumbled upon the history of Frank and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and from that moment they wouldn’t stop talking to me. I was captivated by their political passion, their personal story and their own writing. They were true trailblazers as pacifists, socialists and feminists.

“The horrific circumstances of Frank’s death in Dublin in 1916 say so much about the brutalising effects of militarism and Britain’s chaotic intervention with other nations. This is a play about Britain and Ireland, but it speaks of so many other conflicts, of so many acts of silencing. It’s a resonant story for our times that I had to tell.”

To Have to Shoot Irishmen is on sale now. Tickets are available at: or by calling 0151 709 4776.