A history of Irish theatre at the Hilberry Theatre

Recent productions of Translations and Playboy of the Western World

The Hilberry Theatre has a great tradition of producing Irish theatre on its stage, oftentimes directed by our very own Lavina Hart.  In 2007, the Hilberry mounted a very successful production of Brian Friel’s Translations, a beautiful play set in Baile Beag (small town), a small village at the heart of 19th century agricultural Ireland. Friel has said that Translations is “a play about language and only about language,” but it deals with a wide range of issues, stretching from language and communication to Irish history and cultural imperialism. Robert W. Bethune’s Between the Lines review noted, “Irish plays like Brian Friel’s Translations have great characters…The acting is the best I have seen at the Hilberry this year. Benny Lumpkin Jr. gives Lancey unvarnished grim clarity. Caroline Price is touching as Sarah, who almost cannot speak… Lavinia (Hart) Moyer’s direction keeps complexities of culture and communication natural yet trenchant.”

The poetic Irish drama, The Playboy of the Western World, opened at the Hilberry Theatre in 1999.  Recently retired professor Joseph A. Calarco directed the Irish classic by John Millington Synge, with Matt Troyer as the yarn-spinning “Playboy” and Emily N. Miller as Pegeen Mike, the woman who believes his wild stories.  The Cripple of Inishmaan playwright Martin McDonagh has drawn many comparisons to Synge, and its no coincidence that this modern author was chosen for the 2011-2012 Season.  While McDonagh is a more contemporary playwright, his plays harken back to a more traditionally “classic” time period that Hilberry subscribers have come to expect.

The Cripple of Inishmaan closes this weekend after opening the first weekend of December.  If you haven’t yet had a chance to take in the charming Irish tale, don’t miss your last chance Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and additionally Saturday at 2pm.

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