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Thursday 17 October 2019

O'Neill plays set to be staged in San Francisco this summer

The Eugene O’Neill ‘Glencairn’ plays in rehearsal on the Dunbrody in New Ross last October. The cast and crew will be bringing their production to San Francisco, California,this summer
The Eugene O’Neill ‘Glencairn’ plays in rehearsal on the Dunbrody in New Ross last October. The cast and crew will be bringing their production to San Francisco, California,this summer

David Looby

Following the successful run in the Eugene O'Neill International Festival of Drama in New Ross last October the cast and crew of the Glencairn Cycle have been invited to perform in the International O'Neill Festival in San Francisco this summer.

The trio of plays, directed by Wexford town man Paul Walsh, were performed onboard the Dunbrody Famine Ship during the inaugural festival, which was developed by Sean Reidy and Tomas Kavanagh of St Michael's Theatre.

The sea plays are being performed aboard the 1886, square-rigger Balcutha, San Francisco Maritime National Park on August 30 and September 1.

The plays that will feature in the festival include: 'Beyond the Horizon' which tells the story of two men, Robert, a poet and dreamer, always longing for the opportunity 'beyond the horizon', and his brother, Andrew, a pragmatic farmer deeply wedded to his land and his home.

Both brothers love the same woman, Ruth, and circumstances arise that force Andrew, the farmer, to go to sea and Robert, the dreamer, to work on the farm. The play won the Pulitzer Prize in 1920; The 'Glencairn' plays about the sailors on a ship called Glencairn, plays based in part on his own brief career as a merchant seaman. The Eugene O'Neill Festival presented three of these plays in a novel set of productions around the town of New Ross. In Bound East for Cardiff shipmates care for an injured comrade as the Glencairn steams through the fog towards the safety of port. In The Long Voyage Home, set in a quayside tavern, the crew celebrate as one of their number plans to leave the ship for his farm back at home, but the life of the sea has other plans for the man. The Moon of the Caribees, the final play in the sequence, is a haunting, mystical piece, a meditation on Fate and an unfulfilled life.

The festival returns next October, running alongside a successful festival in California named after the playwright, whose family hail from Tinnerany. It is co-chaired by Sean Reidy, former CEO of the Kennedy Trust, together with Dan McGovern, President of The Eugene O'Neill Foundation, with Tomás Kavanagh as Festival Director, Dr Richard Hayes of WIT as Academic Adviser and Alice O'Neill McLoughlin, one of Eugene O'Neill's remaining Irish relatives from Tinneranny just outside New Ross, from where James O'Neill emigrated in 1851.

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