The Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage
Moderated by: James Pethica
On May 23, explore the tumultuous and significant relationship between Sean O’Casey and Abbey Theatre founders Lady Gregory and WB Yeats in a free panel led by James Pethica, a Professor of Irish Studies, Drama and Modernism at Williams College.
In 1923, Dublin had been a battleground since the Easter Rising of 1916 was followed by the Irish War for Independence, and finally, a bitter Civil War. In this fraught context, the future of the Abbey Theatre, founded by William Butler Years, Lady Gregory, and Edward Martyn twenty years previously, was uncertain. Just in time, WB Yeats and Lady Gregory accepted Sean O’Casey’s The Shadow of a Gunman (1923), and its immediate commercial success, followed by Juno and the Paycock (1924) and The Plough and the Stars (1926), saved the Abbey from bankruptcy.
For this brief period, O’Casey enjoyed a close collaborative relationship with the Abbey founders. However, when they rejected his fourth play, The Silver Tassie, a very public spat began between Yeats and O’Casey as quarreling letters were published in The Irish Times for several weeks, ultimately severing their relationship. O’Casey lived and worked in England from that point forward.
This free discussion will explore the relationship between these three Irish luminaries and their effect on Irish theatrical history, from their earliest friendship to their public falling-out.
Biography of James Pethica, Panel Moderator:
James Pethica teaches Irish Studies, Drama and Modernism at Williams College. He received his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Oxford University. His publications include two volumes in the Cornell Yeats series; the Norton Yeats: A Critical Edition; and most recently Lady Gregory’s Early Irish Writings, 1883-1893. A former Director of the Yeats International Summer School, he is currently at work on the authorized biography of Lady Gregory for Oxford University Press.