Once Off Productions and GIAF present the World Premiere of Unspeakable Conversations

4 June 2024

Unspeakable Conversations by Christian O’Reilly in collaboration with Liz Carr, Mat Fraser and Olwen Fouérédirected by Olwen Fouéré and Kellie Hughes.

I am at Princeton University. My host is Professor Peter Singer, often called the most influential philosopher of our time. He is the man who wants me dead. No, that’s not fair...

Internationally acclaimed disabled actors Liz Carr (Silent Witness; Loki; Olivier Award winner for The Normal Heart, National Theatre, London) and Mat Fraser (American Horror Story, Loudermilk, Richard III, upcoming Netflix series KAOS) star in the World Premiere of Unspeakable Conversations based on a 2002 real-life debate at Princeton University between Peter Singer, philosopher and author of Animal Liberation and Harriet McBryde Johnson, attorney and disability rights activist, immortalised in Johnson’s famous New York Times article.

Can an argument be made for killing disabled babies within the first months of their lives? Singer said yes. Johnson disagreed. Their conversation started as an email exchange and ended up being a live event and a debate at one of the America’s most prestigious universities where Singer worked.

Unspeakable Conversations thrusts us into the heart of this life and death debate, asking us all to consider this question.

Liz Carr and Mat Fraser portray Harriet and Peter but also take to the stage as themselves, as friends, actors and activists, to interrogate this unspeakable conversation through humour and personal insight, mixing verbatim text with their own words. This exciting new play comes just weeks after BBC’s Better off Dead? documentary presented by Liz Carr which The Guardian called a “blistering film may well change your mind about assisted dying”.

"Twenty years on since Harriet's Unspeakable Conversation with Peter Singer and every word of hers feels as pertinent and as fresh today. Disabled people are still having to prove our right to exist. As actors and disabled activists, it feels like myself and Mat are taking the baton to make sure that her voice - and ours - are heard. Loudly. Amusingly. Shockingly. Unforgettably.” - Liz

“It's wonderful to be working with Liz again, in a play about disability and humanity, on a main stage. Putting this chilling debate into a theatrical setting to pick it apart, and find our collective souls, have a little fun along the way, and expose the hypocrisy of animal rights for disabled deaths, is something you don’t want to miss!” - Mat Fraser

Unspeakable Conversations is presented by Once Off Productions, an independent producing platform established in 2006 by Maura O’Keeffe to provide creative and flexible producing supports for independent performing artists, and Galway International Arts Festival.

It is one of the main highlights at this year’s Festival which takes over the West Coast Irish town between 15 and 28 July with a fantastic programme of theatre, dance, circus, music, debates, visual arts, comedy and street art which looks at who we are and what concerns us.

Produced in association with Magic Pill Productions, Mermaid Arts Centre and Independent Living Movement Ireland.