Druid theatre director Gary Hynes has revealed details of plans to stage three landmark works by Seán O’Casey in a multi-event production later this year.
The Galway-based company will present “DruidO’Casey”, featuring the trilogy of The Plough and the Stars, The Shadow of a Gunman and Juno and the Paycock. It will debut in Galway before moving to Belfast and Dublin.
Describing it as a “mammoth undertaking”, Ms Hynes said: “It has been a long-held ambition to combine these three incredible plays into one theatrical saga, and to celebrate O’Casey as one of Ireland’s greatest playwrights.”
She explained in a single day “you can see all three plays beginning around lunch time and finishing at the usual time. Or, you can see the three plays on three consecutive nights”.
Ms Hynes told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland that this will be the first time that all three O’Casey plays will be performed together.
“They’re great plays and they’re very much part of the Irish repertoire and they’re frequently produced individually. But we’ve long wanted to do all three plays together because in doing that you see the story of a very ordinary group of people set across extraordinary events - the years of the Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War.
“I don’t know of any other group of three plays in the English language that any other country has that has such a great story of the founding of that country.”
Previous similar consecutive performances by Druid Theatre of the works of Tom Murphy and Shakespeare had been very popular with audiences, Ms Hynes added. “Audiences loved the big day of plays. It’s an event day for them. They make friends with other members of the audience and you find them telling us about days like that more often than anything else. So, you know, we’re very excited about it and we think our audiences will be as well.”
As part of the production, the three plays will be performed together on a single day. A limited number of single-play performances will also take place.
DruidO’Casey begins with The Plough and the Stars, the story of newlyweds Jack and Nora Clitheroe living in a city on the brink of rebellion in 1916. In The Shadow of a Gunman, Donal Davoren, Seumas Shields and Minnie Powell find themselves tragically tangled up in the Irish War of Independence. The saga ends with Juno and the Paycock and the Boyle family who see their fortunes dashed amidst the upheaval of the Irish Civil War.
A large cast of 18 actors will perform over 40 roles in the three plays. Four members of the Druid Ensemble, Garrett Lombard, Aaron Monaghan, Rory Nolan and Marty Rea will be joined on stage by Gabriel Adewusi, Tara Cush, Zara Devlin, Caitríona Ennis, Hilda Fay, Tommy Harris, Anna Healy, Liam Heslin, Bosco Hogan, Sean Kearns, Sophie Lenglinger, Sarah Morris, Robbie O’Connor and Catherine Walsh.
The premiere of DruidO’Casey will take place at the Town Hall Theatre in Galway in July as part of Galway International Arts Festival. It will then travel to the Lyric Theatre in Belfast and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.