ANU Productions present PALS, an installation based on events surrounding the Irish who fought at Gallipoli in WWI.
Some plays for your diary ...
ANU Productions present PALS at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks (Feb 4-Apr 30). Inspired by the previously untold stories of Irish men who fought in the Pal battalion (a type of battalion in the British army that organised soldiers to serve alongside friends and neighbours) at Gallipoli in WWI, this will likely be a powerful and affordable experience from the country's leading theatrical innovators (tickets only €5!).
More immediately, it's tempting to suspect method acting (or maybe just 'method-casting') in Landmark Productions' presentation of Enda Walsh's 2006 play The Walworth Farce at the Olympia Theatre (Jan 10-Feb 8). Aside from the star-casting of Brendan Gleeson, Brian Gleeson and Domhnall Gleeson, Walsh's play is about a family of theatricals, insofar as tyrannical father Dinny forces his sons Blake and Sean to act out a ramshackle play inside their London flat. The marketing (seen below) could have those unfamiliar suspecting a comedy but be prepared for a grotesque, furious drama about the Irish exploding abroad, and quite possibly the best new Irish play of the last 10 years.
Marketing for The Walworth Farce could have those unfamiliar suspecting a comedy. The truth is: it's one the most grotesque and furious Irish plays of the last 10 years.
2015 is to be the year of Shakespeare, so if you're still dispirited by that Leaving Cert play you were forced to sit through as a teenager, it's time to give the Bard a second chance. Irish theatre doesn't come from the same verse tradition as English theatre, but is it possible that playwright Mark O'Rowe will bend the Henriad (the history plays Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V) towards his own poetic Irish parlance in The Irish Shakespeare Project, produced by Druid? This is Tony-winning director Garry Hynes once again moving away from her comfort zone (according to the Druid website her last staging of Shakespeare was in 1999). Dates have yet to be announced but we can expect it to premiere in Galway, as in the company's ethos, before it tours to New York in July.
Meanwhile, the Gate Theatre have announced the creative team of Romeo and Juliet (from Mar 31). After his arch and adventurous Twelfth Night for the Abbey, director Wayne Jordan, who previously shook off the antiquated airs of the Gate with The Threepenny Opera, once again teams with contemporary designer Ciaran O'Melia and composer Tom Lane. Lir graduate Lauren Coe and Les Misérables star Fra Fee lead the cast, with Ian Toner as Tybalt, Ruth McGill as the Nurse and Natalie Radmall-Quirke as Lady Capulet (interestingly, there is no mention of Lord Capulet or either of the Montagues in the casting details).
Lastly, the Abbey could very possibly deal a blow to critics claiming the National Theatre to be out of touch. A Midsummer Night's Dream (Feb 17-Mar 28) directed by Gavin Quinn, easily the country's most avant-garde director, is already shaping to be unconventional: the 'young lovers' at the heart of the comedy are being played by middle-aged actors (Gina Moxley, Áine Ní Mhuirí, John Kavanagh, and Barry McGovern). Quinn with his company Pan Pan have already presented radical re-imaginings of Shakespeare (Macbeth-7, The Rehearsal: Playing the Dane, Everyone is King Lear in His Own Home), revealing the ineradicable presence of the dramatist in many aspects of our lives.
Promotional art for Death of a Comedian by Owen Mc Cafferty, one of the anticipated new plays of 2015.
The Abbey plays to its strengths this year, that is, as a revivalist theatre rather than a new writing one. Mark O'Rowe's lyrical adaption of Hedda Gabler (Apr 15-May 16) is best trusted to director Annabelle Comyn, Wayne Jordan might seek out the latent expressionism of The Shadow of a Gunman (Jun 16-Aug 1) as he did in another Sean O'Casey realist tragicomedy The Plough and the Stars a few years ago, and Selina Cartmell finally gets handed Marina Carr's vicious By the Bog of Cats (Aug 19-Sept 12), a re-imagining of Medea set in the Irish midlands.
As for new writing, Owen McCafferty's Death of a Comedian is certainly one to anticipate. McCafferty wrote the stunning Quietly, perhaps the most perceptive play about present day Northern Ireland. His new play is a Faustian drama about the highs and low of the comedy world, and premieres at the Lyric Theatre (Feb 11-Mar 1) before transferring to the Abbey (Mar 12-Apr 4). Meanwhile, another Northern Irish dramatist David Ireland makes his south-of-the-border debut with the award-winning Everything Between Us, a blackly comic play about the reunion of two sisters, one sitting on the board of Northern Ireland's Truth and Reconciliation Committee, the other returned from an alcoholic sojourn abroad and horrified by the Unionists' direction in her absence. Directed by Sophie Motley for Rough Magic, it runs at Project Arts Centre (Feb 13-28).
Amy Conroy's new play for young audiences, Far Away From Me, is inspired by 'The Princess and the Pea'.
It is shaping to be quite a year for Amy Conroy, whose new play Luck Just Kissed You Hello has been funded in co-production with Galway International Arts Festival (Jul 13-26). The piece explores masculine displacement, viewing the interim between what it is to be a man and what it could be. Too early for an announcement on cast but Conroy starred in a work-in-progress presentation last year along with Mark Fitzgerald and Will O'Connell. The play will then tour to Dublin Theatre Festival in the autumn. Closer to the present, the playwright has written and directed a play for young audiences, Far Away From Me, inspired by 'The Princess and the Pea'. It sounds to be a magical and multidisciplinary affair, with aerial dance by PaperDolls Emily Aoibheann and Elaine McCague, and a dance score by Raymond Scannell. That runs at The Ark (Feb 15-Mar 12). Appropriately, Conroy's first play, the beautiful I ♥ Alice ♥ I, is remounted at Project Arts Centre (Mar 18-21) in association with Marriage Equality.
Playwright Philip McMahon has also been funded, to create a song cycle that explores the emotional landscape of Irish society and present it at Dublin Theatre Festival (Sept 24-Oct 11). This is likely a development of the work-in-progress presentation I'm Your Man at last year's festival, a love story through music that was written and directed by McMahon, music and lyrics by Mark Palmer, and performances by actor Ruth McGill and musician Adam Matthews.
Olwen Fouéré adapts Samuel Beckett's short prose: Lessness.
Lastly, for those craving utmost originality and innovation, herald the return of Olwen Fouéré. In the same tow as riverrun, an elemental adaptation of the voice of the river that flows through James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake (touring to Project Arts Centre, Jan 27-31), Fouéré invites an obscure source onstage. In Samuel Beckett's short prose Lessness, a naked figure exposed to the elements is represented in a finite world of repeated phrases and decomposing structure. Wholly unpredictable and surprisingly funny, this adaptation will be set in a site-specific location and fuse theatre and visual art. Similarly, the return of Bush Moukarzel after Lippy, the most searching play of 2013 (touring to Abbey Theatre, Jan 29-Feb 14), signals the strange stylistic effects of postdramatic theatre. The new performance is based on Anton Chekov's widely unknown first play. It is seemingly part one of The First Plays Project, seeking innovative stagings of the lost first plays by important writers of the 20th century, and unlock them as contemporaries.