Showing posts with label Druid theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Druid theatre. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Stages: Theatre Tours to the Prisons

Earlier this week, as the Abbey Theatre look back in detail on Dublin life in 1913 at the height of the Strike and Lock-Out through the words and drama of James Plunkett's The Risen People, the play found a new audience in the prisoners and staff of Wheatfield Prison.  In terms of Irish touring theatre this is an unusual but not quite a unique departure.

As reported in TheIrish Times earlier this week:

The Great Dublin Lock-out became temporarily locked-in last night when, on an occasion that was historic in more ways than one, the Abbey Theatre presented its latest production behind bars.
The Risen People, a musical adaptation of James Plunkett’s play about the events of 1913, was transferred for an evening to Wheatfield Prison, where it was watched by 200 inmates, staff and invited guests.
The set was scaled down to fit the stage of the Wheatfield assembly hall, otherwise, this was the full Abbey experience, available in an Irish prison for the first time in its 110-year existence.

Though a first for the Abbey and yet another landmark in the story of its rich 110-year history, It was back in 1987 that Druid Theatre also crossed the gates and performed in Irish prisons. As part of their nationwide 1987 tour of Tom Murphy's Conversations on a Homecoming, the play was staged in Cork, Mountjoy and Arbour Hill prisons.

Within the Druid Archive here at the Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, is a letter of feedback from an unnamed prisoner within Arbour Hill. Entitled "Thank you for an evening's entertainment", the inmate wrote in detail a review and experience of the production in Arbour Hill. Comments include:

"Firstly, I would like to say a big thank you to one and all connected with the bringing this play to the prisons. . . We, the inmates or prisoners if you prefer, appreciated what must have been a very hard and apprehensive decision for you to make. Also, the prison staff deserve a clap on the back for making it such a wonderful evening."

The review continues: The characters by the cast were brilliantly performed.  .  .The professionalism was one of total enrapture for the audience which held our eyes constantly on every movement on stage. Any noise in the audience was met with a 'hush, hush, Silence please!' reaction from the rest of the audience."
Comments from prisoners, 1987

The letter concludes by comments from the prisoners with one being "It's nice to know that not everybody has forgotten about us in here, thanks a million to the cast of Druid Theatre Company."

This file on the 1987 Prisons tour by Druid Theatre is accessible at T2/144.

The Druid Archive catalogue can be viewed in full here

Press coverage of the 1987 prison tour (Click to enlarge)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Druid and the Colleen Bawn - from 1978 to present

Druid cast of the Colleen Bawn, 1978
It's been thirty-five years since Druid Theatre staged Dion Boucicault's the Colleen Bawn. Looking back through the archive of such a body of work, it highlights much about the variances in the early Druid repertoire. Then, the young Druid Theatre company was hardly three years old and developments were well in motion that were making all involved with the Galway group stand out for recognition. People might not be aware of the range of work which Druid was producing at that time, and so much of it being recent non-Irish work also.

The 1978 season saw Druid produce the Colleen Bawn along with Tom Stoppard's After Margritte, Anton Checkov's the Proposal, The Glass Menagerie by Tennesse Williams and Woyzeck by George Buchner. Along with Boucicault's frantic and wild action, characters and language it is interesting to see Druid programming work by Boucicault, which would not have been too commonly familiar to many Irish audiences.

[Paul O'Neill] and Marie Mullen
This revival by Druid is a timely chance to dip into the archive and see some of the items and resources available for study of past productions of this play and one from Druid's early and formative years. The initial cast featured Marie Mullen, Sean McGinley, Pat Connaghton, Paul O'Neill and the play was designed and directed by Garry Hynes. Included in the archives are numerous production shots of the cast in costume and in production, original scripts used by Marie Mullen and Sean McGinley, with annotation and notes by both, lighting and cue sheets, programmes, posters and other such documents, each telling their own story of the history of this play.
Programme from the 1978 production

It is really exciting to see a new staging of the Colleen Bawn coming to the Galway stage. If you have any friends or family who may have seen this original production in in 1978 we would love to hear from you! Do leave a comment.

For more records about The Colleen Bawn or other productions from Druid's archive, please click here for the full archive catalogue. 

For more on the current production of the Colleen Bawn, see for details.

Sean McGinley's script, with handwritten annotation

Friday, January 27, 2012

Looking Back: Much Ado for Druid and Hawk's Well in 1982

This year marks the thirtieth birthday of the Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo. As well as being a home to theatre for the people and communities of Sligo, Hawk’s Well has supported and developed some of the most successful of Irish theatre productions and companies for the past three decades.
Kicking it all off back in 1982 was a production by Druid Theatre of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It is fitting that this past month Druid once again took to the stage of Hawk’s Well with their currently touring production of John B. Keane’s Big Maggie.

On 12th January 1982 the Druid production of Much Ado About Nothing featured the talents of Marie Mullen, Ray McBride, Sean McGinley, Rebecca Bartlett and many others. The production was directed by Gary Hynes. The Druid Theatre archive, which is proudly held here in the Archives service of the James Hardiman Library of NUI Galway, includes many records from this opening night in Sligo. Here you can view the original programme, cast list and some fantastic images from that original production at Hawk’s Well in 1982.   


Monday, December 12, 2011

Looking back on "'Tis Pity She's a Whore"

Now on in Dublin’s Project Arts Centre is The Making of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore”, a reworking of the John Ford-written 17th century darkly thrilling drama. The original play, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore deals with the hidden and lustful desires of one man for his sister in the 17th century Italian city of Parma. This modern staging of the play places the action on a film set and works the themes of the original around this engaging twist which is being staged by Siren Productions and directed by the Irish Times Award-Winning director, Selina Cartmell.
The play itself certainly has a chequered and daring history, finding itself almost forgotten from the collected works of John Ford as early as the mid-17th century. Interestingly, the play received a full production from Druid Theatre from June to July 1985. Staged at Druid Lane Theatre in Galway and directed by Gary Hynes, the play featured a strong cast and featured the talents of Pat Leavy, Malcolm Douglas, Marie Mullen, Mairéad Noone, Ciaran Hinds, Maelíosa Stafford, Séan McGinley, Jane Brennan, Ray McBride and Darragh Kelly. 

The Druid Theatre Archive here in the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, holds a rich record of this production that includes programmes - which detail cast lists, headshots, productions credits and an article detailing thoughts on the play written by author John Banville - entitled "In the teeth of the whirlwind"; posters, photographs flyers, invitations, tickets and play posters. There are also many press reviews and articles from regional, local and national press. This unique collection of play records and ephemera is a fantastic research resource and provides an insight into how one of Ireland’s premier theatre companies staged a work over twenty-five years ago which has now found its place back on a major Irish stage.
The files T2/121 – 125 and T2/380 relate directly to this Druid production and their descriptions and details can be viewed on the Druid Archive online catalogue:

For more on the current production of The Making of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore by Siren Productions see

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Frank Bailey Papers

Cataloguing has begun on the Frank Bailey papers here at NUI Galway Archives. Bailey was born in Galway in 1938 and educated at Castleknock College and University College Galway. During his time as a student, he was a producer with the Dramatic Society for three years. After graduating he worked with Radio Éireann as an actor and producer before establishing his own dramatic company and staging works such as The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams and The Caretaker by Harold Pinter. With the Abbey Theatre he produced The Colleen Bawn by Dion Boucicault. He also worked with the Eblana Theatre and adapted plays for radio. 

He is probably best remembered for his work with the Celtic Art Theatre in Galway in 1971. It was the first majot attempt to bring professional English language theatre back to Galway. Through his work at that time he sowed the seeds amongst a young generation of actors in UCG (and elsewhere) which later resulted in the rejuvenation of DramSoc at UCG, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe and ultimately, the Druid Theatre Company.

Frank Bailey died at a tragically young age in a car accident. Through making available his personal papers, we strive to both honour his memory and contributions to theatre in Galway and beyond, as well as adding to our resources for researchers.

Sarah Poutch

Friday, September 16, 2011

Culture Night 2011 at NUIG Archives and Special Collections

For Culture Night 2011, the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway will be opening up and exploring their unique literary, theatre and landed estates archives. 

To mark the first involvement of NUI Galway Archives and Special Collections in Culture Night we are delighted to put on a programme of events that will share these wonderful archival collections. 
At 7pm Special Collections Librarians Marie Boran and Brigid Clesham will talk about their new project, the Irish Landed Estates Database, an incredible resource for those interested in tracing their family history or looking at the history of the landed estates of Ireland. 

At 8pm, Fergus Fahey, Institutional Repository and Digitisation Librarian, will discuss the personal archive of writer John McGahern. Having catalogued the McGahern Archive, Fahey will deliver a detailed and insightful overview of this wonderful collection of hand-written novels, drafts, stories and correspondence, created over a lifetime’s work by one of Ireland’s most celebrated and intriguing writers.

The evening will be topped off at 9pm by screenings from the award-winning DruidSynge series. Described by The Irish Times, as “one of the greatest achievements in the history of Irish Theatre”, Galway’s Druid Theatre undertook the mammoth task of staging all works of playwright J.M. Synge. Here, you can enjoy two of these works, Riders to the Sea and The Shadow of the Glen

All events are taking place in the Patrick Fottrell Theatre, Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway, next to the James Hardiman Library. A free shuttle bus service will be available on the night to bring guests to and from Culture Night venues. For more information and updates on the NUI Galway Archives and Special Collections programme for Culture Night, contact, follow on Twitter: @nuigarchives , Theatre Archives blog or go to our homepage