Actor Frank Finlay 1926 – 2016

We are sad to note the death of actor Frank Finlay. He died peacefully at home surrounded by his family after a short illness.

He was a stalwart of the early years of the National Theatre under Laurence Olivier and also played in some excellent productions at the Old Vic, including playing Joxer to Colin Blakely’s Captain Boyle in Juno and the Paycock.

Finlay is best known for his television and film work including the title role in Dennis Potter’s Casanova.

As Michael Coveney writes in his obituary for The Guardian, “He was able to imply depths of feeling by doing very little.” This economy allowed Frank Finaly to be an affecting and powerful actor.

Juno and the Paycock First Draft at the National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland has acquired the first draft of Juno and the Paycock at auction in New York. This was made possible by special allocation funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the National Library of Ireland trust.

Library director Dr Sandra Collins said the library looked forward to “reserving this precious piece of Irish history and literature and exhibiting it in the library for all to enjoy”. This is wonderful news. It is gratifying that this manuscript should return to Ireland.

The first draft is significant in that it shows how the play evolved and what Sean’s early thoughts on the play were. The title on the exercise book is Juno and the Peacock. The National Library of Ireland already holds a significant number of manuscripts and correspondence by and on Sean. This first draft is a wonderful addition to that resource.

Sean O’Casey Production Image Galleries

We are happy to present image galleries of production photographs of some of Sean’s plays. We will be adding more images as they become available.

The Plough and the Stars 2012 Abbey Theatre, Gabrielle Reidy, Kelly Campbell and Joe Hanley, Photo Credit Ros Kavanagh
The Plough and the Stars 2012 Abbey Theatre, Gabrielle Reidy, Kelly Campbell and Joe Hanley, Photo Credit Ros Kavanagh
The Gate Theatre’s 1986 production of Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’Casey. Photo by Tom Lawlor
The Gate Theatre’s 1986 production of Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’Casey. Photo by Tom Lawlor

Thank you to the Abbey, Gate and Tricycle theatres and the photographers for providing these great images to us.

 

Brian Friel, Irish Dramatist, 1929 – 2015

The death of Brian Friel is a great loss to the theatre. His contribution to the medium throughout the world and in Ireland in particular was immense. From Philadelphia, Here I Come! in the 60s through to The Home Place in 2005 his work made a significant impact.

In addition to his own original work he was a highly skilled adapter of plays, particularly of great Russian drama. His last work was an adaption of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Friel made great strides in bringing wonderful work to a modern English-speaking audience.

In 1980 collaborating with actor Stephen Rea he founded Field Day Theatre Company. Field Day have played an important cultural role in Derry and throughout Ireland.

You can read more on Brian Friel in these obituaries,

Juno and the Paycock First Production Staged at UTRGV

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is to open its first theatre season with a production of Juno and the Paycock. The Albert L Jeffers Theatre was built in 1931 but this is the first production of the newly instituted UTRGV.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Official Logo

Assistant Professor and designer Jennifer Saxton said of the choice of production,

“I think one reason we picked the play was that there were so many universal themes in it that struck us as relevant. It’s about family, and loyalty, the civil war turning neighbor against neighbor rather than uniting against an outside force now that they have left, what it means to be a mother, and the effects of poverty.”

The play will run from 7th October to11th October to If you want more information or to book tickets contact Elva Galvan at the University Theatre box office, (956) 665-3581.

Somerset Maugham’s For Services Rendered Parallels With The Silver Tassie

Maugham retouched
Howard Davies production of Somerset Maugham’s For Services Rendered at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester is receiving very positive reviews, building on the success of his production of The Silver Tassie at the National Theatre last year.

Michael Billington in his Guardian review points out the parallels between the two works. Both plays use an examination of family to make, “attack[s] on the destructive consequences of war”. While The Silver Tassie takes you to the battlefield For Services Rendered remains inside the family dynamic.

First performed in 1932 in the West End the play was not well received as its anti-war message was not popular at the time. The work received a handful of revivals, including a TV version by Granada in 1959. Howard Davies production is now bringing this play and its message back to the British stage.

The Shadow of a Gunman at the Abbey Theatre: Reviews

The Abbey Theatre and  The Lyric Theatre’s co-production of  The Shadow of a Gunman is running on the Abbey Stage in Dublin until the 1st of August.

Wayne Jordan’s production, starring  Mark O’Halloran,  Amy McAllister and  David Ganly,  has received an enthusiastic reception.

  • “High theatrical energy is kept aloft by the colourful parade of O’Casey’s tenement dwellers, and equally the parade of O’Casey’s brilliant writing talent.”
  • “Nothing is more absurd in O’Casey’s 1923 play than the notion that art couldbe indifferent to politics. Set just three years earlier, itsnear-vaudevillian succession of intrusions leading towards something more shattering, was first performed during a vicious Civil War. It was a dangerous weapon itself, a tragedy played for laughs.”
  • “The drama packs a punch…  as O’Casey reminds us ‘it’s the civilians who suffer’.”
  • “All poses have dropped away, and this impressively lucid production leaves us with the question: what would we have done in his place?”

Book now online or contact the Abbey Theatre box office at,  0035-3187 87222.

Aideen O’Kelly, Irish Actor, 1940 – 2015

It is sad to note the death of  Aideen O’Kelly last month. She began her career with the Abbey Theatre  in  1964 playing Mrs Gogan  in  The  Plough and the Stars.  She notably  played  Fionnuala  in  Red  Roses  for  Me  in  addition  to many  other  roles  at  the Abbey.

In  the  1980s  she  moved  to  New  York  and  achieved  acclaim  for  her  acting  on  Broadway.

The Shadow of a Gunman: Abbey Theatre and Lyric Theatre Co production

The Abbey Theatre has announced its forthcoming co production of  The Shadow of a Gunman with the Lyric Theatre Belfast.  The production will run from  Friday, 12 June 2015 to  Saturday, 1 August 2015.

The production will be directed by  Wayne Jordan and feature  Mark O’Halloran as  Donal Davoren,  David Ganly as  Seamus Shields and  Amy McAllister as  Minnie Powell.

Tickets are available via the Abbey Theatre. Buy online now.

East Wall Celebrates Sean O’Casey

This wonderful video by Near TV Productions is a record by the people of the East Wall of the celebrations they arranged to commemorated the 50th year of Sean O’Casey’s death on September the 18th 2014.

It is a fascinating piece that brings to life the time that Sean lived and worked in the area. The people of the Sean O’Casey Community Centre give readings from the autobiographies and act out scenes from the plays and autobiographies; well chosen and well acted.

It is very moving indeed to see. Thanks to Mairéad Ní Choísóig, all the people of the Sean O’Casey Community Centre and the East Wall for remembering Sean’s anniversary and filling it with life.