Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Irish Theater

As a self-proclaimed theater nerd and arts enthusiast, studying abroad in Ireland was the perfect choice. Why, you might ask? The most famous poets (WB Yeats), playwrites (Samuel Beckett), and novelists (James Joyce) of the 20th Century are from Ireland. While learning about Irish literature during my studies, I got the chance to analyze some of the great pieces of drama and poetry that changed the face of literary history forever. Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Joyce's "Ulysses" are two epics that happen to be born from the same homeland. It's truly amazing that such a tiny rock in the Atlantic Ocean has produced such great plays, stories, and poems. The square miles of the island can barely contain the high intensity of culture that was bred there.

While in Dublin, I saw four plays: The House by Tom Murphy, The Playboy of the Western World by JM Synge, The Plough and the Stars by Sean O'Casey, and a festival play called A Play for Bad Actors.

Each of the plays was drenched in Irish history: one was set in 1950s, one in 1900, and one during the 1916 Rebellion. The serious subject matter of immigration, sovereignty, and loss are typical of the Irish experience of tragedy. The plays all use pub humor to balance the horrors that later unfold, so I found myself laughing one minute and crying the next.

Another, more modern example of Irish creativity can be seen in the Grammy-winning film and Tony-sweeping musical, Once. I saw it on Broadway this afternoon at a matinee show and was automatically transported back to Dublin. I was completely blown away by the musicians, the script, and the adaptation from screen to stage. During the pre-show (the 20 minutes leading up to the start of the performance), ten musicians from the cast jammed onstage and audience members were invited up to the set to order a pint and join in the musical number. I was so full of glee, stomping and clapping to my heart's content. This euphoria lasted about ten minutes before I was ushered back to my seat for the show to start. I cried at the first notes of "Falling Slowly" and tears started to gather under my chin. But I didn't care, because for two and a half hours, I was in Ireland again. The spell lasted until the actors took their final bow, and then I sadly realized I was back in America. 

Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard in the film, Once.

Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti in the acclaimed musical, Once.

No comments:

Post a Comment