The W. Scott McLucas Studio Theatre
Written by Sean O’Casey
Directed by Nicola Murphy
Music Director: Stephen Kennedy Murphy
Saturday, April 6 at 8pm
Sunday, March 7 at 3pm
The small village of Ballyoonagh is feverishly preparing for a visit from native son, Bishop Bill Mullarky, by redecorating the home of the richest man in town, Councillor Reiligan, to receive the clergyman. Although the festivities are meant to be formal, the many workmen hired for the occasion have other priorities, as they engage in raucous antics filled with drinking, argument, song, dance, and general merriment and confusion. As the Bishop’s arrival approaches, the town’s religious leaders organize a book burning bonfire to eliminate sources of temptation. The workmens’ ideals of freedom and joy increasingly clash with church’s puritan values, and it all comes to a head in a tragic turn of events.
One of O’Casey’s final plays, The Bishops Bonfire proved O’Casey’s continued ability to cause controversy. It premiered on February 28, 1955 at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. Before the production began, the Standard launched a campaign criticizing both the play and the playwright for his past criticisms of the Catholic Church. Police and Dubliners prepared for another riot (similar to The Plough and the Stars twenty-nine years earlier) but ultimately, the play’s most vocal critics were in the Irish papers. English and international critics reviewed the production favorably, although it was often seen as less enjoyable than his similar earlier play, Cock-a-Doodle-Dandy.
All readings are free to attend. Invitations were sent via email. To request an invitation, call the Irish Rep box office at 212-727-2737.