In 1975, Englishwoman Dr Sheila Cassidy was arrested and brutally tortured by the Chilean secret police (DINA) during the early days of the Pinochet regime. Her experiences in the prison system, living alongside women who were prepared to sacrifice their lives for their country, challenged and ultimately transformed her view of herself and what it is to be a “good person”.
The play is inspired by the honesty and courage of all the women in Sheila Cassidy’s story, but it is the songs of the nueva canción that give the work its emotional weight. These songs, written by Victor Jara, Violeta Parra and others are about the lives and experiences of the rural poor, the working people and were written in rejection of the ‘colonialism’ of foreign culture. They are charged with the energy of social change and the lyricism of compassion for people who are often forgotten.
‘Sheila’ has benefited from two creative development periods. The first was a 3-day Flash Residency offered by Ainslie Gorman Arts Centre in December 2017. The second was held at The Street in December 2018, and funded by ArtsACT.