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‘Women always seem to bare the shame and I think that’s wrong’ — Joyce Greenaway, Whisk(E)y Wars

Northern Irish actress Joyce Greenaway brings her favoured Edinburgh Fringe one-woman show for the first time to The Dublin Liberties Distillery – to tell the tale of a dysfunctional family-run distillery.


Joyce Greenaway / image René Melia

Whisk(E)y Wars, with emphasis on the ‘e’ as a nudge toward Irish twang, is a story about Ulster woman Tam Tully who is left with the burden of running her generational distillery and all of the crumbling problems faced in her family.

“I thought how amazing to write something that would be about dysfunctional families within a distillery”

Joyce Greenaway

Joyce is met with bolstering applause by an audience she believes is, “warm” and “responsive” as she closes her performance at the Dublin Liberties Distillery. This an anticipated response for the award-winning actress and writer, whose play has been described by critics as ‘blistering’ enough to stop time itself.

When Joyce heard tales about the Kavalan family distillery — a Taiwanese whiskey business — and others, it sparked her inspiration to write her own play. “I thought how amazing to write something that would be about dysfunctional families within a distillery,” she told The Liberty. In three days of writing the script during the lockdown, Joyce achieved just that.

Describing her time writing the script, she said it flowed as “an original stream of consciousness”.

“It hasn’t changed much, just taken bits out of it and tweaked it a little bit. You can learn a script if it makes sense because it’s your thought process. It comes from your heart, your thoughts, and that then brings all of the emotions. If it’s logical to that character, then it’s easier to learn,” she continued.

The play alluded to major social issues and experiences faced by women in society. The theme highlighted how those attitudes have a rippling effect that has caused women to bare the burden of shame and disgrace. Referring to Sean O’Casey’s Dublin Play, Juno and the Paycock, the actress states, “Irish mammies do spoil their boys but Irish women do tend to pick up the pieces all the way through”.

“Women always seem to bare the shame and I think that’s wrong,” she said.

Strong-willed Tam is the glue that’s holding her family together but reaches her breaking point when she’s had enough of women’s mistreatment. The playwright says Tam’s moment of pure anger and rage is a “cry of solidarity with all those women.”

Joyce describes her character Tam as a “gracious” woman.

Speaking about her own family life she said, “three generations in my family there have been children that have been abandoned… that stopped with my generation. There is change, but it still happens… because women bare the child, they’re the ones who have to make the difficult decision ultimately.”

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