Breaking boundaries in theatre, literature and performance, University College Dublin (UCD) with Verdant Productions announce the world premiere of Signatories, a major theatrical interpretation to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Created by eight of Ireland’s most acclaimed writers; Emma O’Donoghue, Thomas Kilroy, Hugo Hamilton, Frank McGuinness, Rachel Fehily, Éilís Ní Dhuibne, Marina Carr and Joseph O’Connor – and staging eight unique site-specific performances that become one spectacular production opens (Friday 22 April) and runs at Kilmainhan Goal on the exact weekend anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising (Sunday 24 April) and is later staged at three theatre venues across Dublin until 5 May.
The commission of this brand new theatre piece by UCD in which these eight world-class Irish writers present the seven signatories of the Irish Proclamation, along with the interesting perspectve of Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell who delivered the surrender in the Easter Rising of 1916.
Performed in a series of monologues, this production brings the audience into their innermost thoughts and encapsulates the emotional turmoil caused by their self-sacrifice, as each writer presents an artistic response to the eight characters – sending out commands, lying in Kilmainham Gaol, facing the firing squad, ultimately being airbrushed out of public view and leaving a legacy to haunt future generations.
The signatories of the Irish Republic must have known that the Rising would be crushed militarily, would end in carnage and death and that if caught alive, they would themselves be executed. This exciting production, noted for its magnificent writing, will be directed by TONY Award-winning director, Patrick Mason, and will be delivered by some of the country’s most outstanding actors; Barbara Brennan who plays Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell by Emma Donoghue; Roseanna Purcell who reads the piece of Sean McDermott writen by Éilís Ní Dhuibne; Stephen Jones plays Thomas McDonagh by Marina Carr; Shane O’Reilly plays Joseph Mary Plunket by Joseph O’Connor; Joe Taylor plays Thomas Clarke written by Rachel Fehily; Ronan Leahy plays Éamonn Ceannt by Frank McGuinness; Peter Gaynor plays Padraig Pearse by Thomas Kilroy & Lisa Dwyer Hogg reads James Connolly written Hugo Hamilton – all relay the voices that thread across deeply personal emotions from each historical Irish character.
UCD played a central role in the emergence of the Irish State – from the culturally-driven Gaelic Revival movement to the formation of the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan; from the actual planning of the Easter Rising to the formation of the first Government; UCD lecturers, graduates and even students were all part of the story of Irish independence.
A seminal moment in the foundation of the Irish State and often referred to as “the poets’ rebellion”, among its leaders were UCD scholars of English literature, history and Irish. Even though its effects were deep and lasting, the revolt itself was ill-fated; and ended ignominiously after just six days with the rebels rounded up and their leaders sentenced to death.
The unique artistic composition of Signatories will be a theatrical centrepiece of the 2016 commemorations. Already drawing great public interest, it will provide an opportunity for intellectual discourse around the signatories of the proclaimation that goes well beyond the circumstances of the Rising and places them in the wider cultural context.
Combining the skills of the best writers with this stellar cast – expect an extraordinary production and a special piece of theatre magic for 2016.
*Signatories will also be available in a new book published by UCD from April 22 to coincide with the opening of the production.
ABOUT THE WRITERS
Elizabeth O’Farrell by Emma Donoghue, who was nominated for an Oscar for her screenplay of her novel Room.
Padraig Pearse by Thomas Kilroy, whose awards include the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Heinemann Award for Literature, the AIG Literary Prize and the Irish PEN award.
James Connolly by Hugo Hamilton, winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Priz Femina Etranger, and the Premio Giuseppe Berto for French and Italian translations of his work.
Éamonn Ceannt by Frank McGuinness, TONY Award winner, New York Drama Critics Circle award winner, and Irish PEN award winner.
Thomas Clarke by Rachel Fehily. Rachel is a recent graduate of the UCD MA in Creative Writing and emerging talent in the Irish theatre scene.
Sean McDermott by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, winner of the Bisto Book of the Year and the Irish PEN award, as well as shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction
Thomas MacDonagh by Marina Carr, winner of the EM Forster award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Susan Smith Blackburn prize for women playwrights
Joseph Mary Plunkett by Joseph O’Connor, among his awards are France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, the Irish Post Award for Fiction, the Neilsen Bookscan Golden Book Award, an American Library Association Award, the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Hall of Fame Award, and the Prix Litteraire Zepter for European Novel of the Year.
This one of a kind theatrical event opens at Kilmainham Gaol on 22 – 24 April, then moves to Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire for 26 & 27 April; Civic Theatre, Tallaght on 3 & 4 May; and to the National Concert Hall on 5 May.
KILMAINHAM GAOL, Dublin
Friday 22 – Sunday 24 April | 8.30pm | €39.05 (booking charges apply) (Non-seated event)
Box Office – Tel: 0818 719 300 – ROI / 0870 243 4455 – N. I. / +353 1 4858010 – Int’l Customers / www.ticketmaster.ie
PAVILION THEATRE, Dún Laoghaire
Tuesday 26 & Wednesday 27 April | 8.00pm | €22 / €20
Box Office – Tel 01 231 2929 / www.paviliontheatre.ie
CIVIC THEATRE, Tallaght
Tuesday 3 & Wednesday 4 May | 8.00pm | €22 / €20
Box Office – Tel 01 462 7477 / www.civictheatre.ie