Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes returns to New York on July 24, 2011 with the Druid Theatre Company's production of Seán O'Casey's The Silver Tassie, a searing drama set during and after World War I. This rarely-staged O'Casey play will have eight performances at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, through July 31st.
The Silver Tassie
by Seán O'Casey
Garry Hynes, Artistic Director
Druid Theatre Company
July 24*, 26-30 at 8 p.m.; July 30-31 at 2 p.m.
Director Garry Hynes
Designer Francis O'Connor
Movement David Bolger with Vanessa Lefrancois
Lighting Designer Davy Cunningham
Sound Designer John Leonard
Composer & Elliot Davis
Music Consultant Philip Chevron
Casting Director Maureen Hughes
Eight performances; running time (approx): Two hours, 34 minutes, with two intermissions
Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College, Amsterdam Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets
Tickets: $80, 60, 40
"As searing an anti-war play as has ever been written. It is almost impossibly difficult to stage successfully but Hynes managed it, pointing the finger at the idiocy and devastation of war as unerringly as even O'Casey might have wished." --Sunday Independent (Ireland)
Five years after the triumphant DruidSynge, its complete cycle of plays by John Millington Synge during Lincoln Center Festival 2006, ("This was a highlight not just of my theatergoing year, but of my theatergoing life," said The New York Times' Charles Isherwood), Ireland's Druid Theatre Company returns with director Garry Hynes' definitive production of Seán O'Casey's The Silver Tassie.
The Silver Tassie takes place during and just after World War I and tells the story of two teenage football heroes who are plucked from the tenements of Dublin and thrown onto the battlefields of France. The
"tassie" of the title refers to a silver trophy cup and to a poem by Robert Burns called The Silver Tassie about a young man going off to war. This epic staging of one of O'Casey's great plays involves all the resources of the theater, including live music and dance."
O'Casey, born in Dublin in 1880, is perhaps best known for his Dublin trilogy written in a realist style: The Shadow of a Gunman (1923), Juno and the Paycock (1924), and The Plough and the Stars (1926). O'Casey's first foray into expressionism, The Silver Tassie was first produced in London's West End in 1929 after having been rejected by Dublin's Abbey Theater and W.B. Yeats, who, among other objections, chided O'Casey on his lack of war experience. In fact, O'Casey had lived in Dublin throughout the war and observed how the global conflict resonated in Ireland. He also was a patient for a time in a Dublin hospital and was treated alongside soldiers home from the front. Between August 1914 and November 1918 approximately 210,000 Irish served in armed forces engaged in the First World War and 30,000 Irishmen died in the war: Ireland's greatest demographic catastrophe since the Great Famine.
The Silver Tassie explores the impact of war on a tight-knit group of family and friends. O'Casey shows how war's destruction lays bare the hollowness of humanity and the futility of faith. Set against a backdrop of the founding of the Irish Republic, The Silver Tassie is a rendering of youth frayed by war, both faithful to the stark realism of traditional Irish theater as well as an exploration of the expressionistic possibilities of the stage. O'Casey's play has been described by poet and playwright Frank McGuiness as "the cruelest play in all Irish literature." According to Hynes, "We might describe Tassie as a lament for those who gave their beauty, their prowess and their lives to a monstrous war, as a diatribe against those who gambled away lives and just kept the war going, or as a loving reckoning with those who had to go on with their lives after the war . . . and all of this is written in the O'Casey language that is one of the glories of English literature."
The play, which was first produced in America by the New York Irish City Theater in New York in 1929 (another production followed in 1949 by the Interplayers Theater at Carnegie Hall), has become part of the theater tradition throughout Europe. An opera based on the play, composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage with a libretto by Amanda Holden, was staged by the English National Opera in London in 2000 and by Opera Ireland in Dublin in 2001. The Druid Theatre Company's "monumental production" (Irish Times) of The Silver Tassie-which has numerous new songs by Elliot Davis with lyrics by O'Casey-toured nine cities in Ireland and two in the UK from August to October 2010.