Both The Guardian and The Stage have reacted very positively to Sean Holmes‘ production of The Plough and the Stars at the Abbey Theatre. Tickets are already hard to come by for the performances at the Abbey and these reviews may well increase demand.
[T]his production succeeds in being very moving, while asking insistent questions about social justice that often get lost in the fray.
Best Supporting Actress, Amy McAllister (Minnie Powell)
Best Costume Design, Sarah Bacon
Best Set Design, Sarah Bacon
It is lovely to see this production recognised. The whole field of nominees is very strong pointing to a good year in dramatic arts. It is also good to see the Waking The Feminists movement recognised in a Judges’ special award for Lian Bell.
In a recent article on the dialects of Ireland Professor Raymond Hickey talks about how Irish and specifically Dublin accents aspirationally referenced English RP. He gives as examples James Joyce and Sean O’Casey, “listening now to recordings of James Joyce and Sean O’Casey, it’s extraordinary how English they sounded”.
Dr Liam P Ó Murchú contests this view. He gives examples of available recordings as evidence and contextualises them by pointing out that as formal recording both men probably put on their dialectical best to be understood.
The example he gives for Sean is an introduction to a 1955 radio recording of Juno and the Paycock produced by Cyril Cusak. Cusak himself plays Joxer. Juno and Captain Boyle are played by Siobhan McKenna and Seamus Kavangh. Sean’s introduction sets the scene for the play and lasts about seven minutes.
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.