The manuscript includes a handwritten draft of acts one and two of Juno and the Paycock, sections of act three, a list of characters and a synopsis of the play. The draft is in a school notebook, titled ‘Juno and the Peacock’ on the front cover.
Dr Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library of Ireland, said of the acquisition,
“We are delighted that this unique manuscript is now safely homed in the National Library. It represents a very significant addition to the NLI’s O’Casey collections, joining a substantial holding of O’Casey papers and his personal library, writing desk and other artefacts that really tell the story of this outstanding Irish playwright… This beautiful piece of Irish history and literature is as relevant for Irish actors and audiences today as it was in 1923”
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.
The Gate Theatre in Dublin is mounting a new production of Juno and the Paycock for 2016. The production will be directed by Mark O’Rowe with sets, costumes and lighting by Paul Wills, Joan Bergin and Sinead McKenna respectively. The cast will include Declan Conlon, Peter Coonan, Ingrid Craigie, Derbhle Crotty, Emmet Kirwan and Bríd Ní Neachtain.
Previews will begin on Thursday 11th February and
opening night is Tuesday 16th February.
“A wonderful and terrible play of futility, of irony, humour and tragedy.”
Juno and the Paycock is set in Dublin in the early 1920s during the Irish Civil War. Jack Boyle and his friend Joxer Daly are two Dublin tenement dwellers who put more effort into avoiding work than most do in securing it. Jack’s wife Juno is the breadwinner and moral powerhouse, but she can’t stop her life unravelling.
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.
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,
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.
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.
“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.”