The Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage
by Sean O’Casey
directed by Charlotte Moore
“I cannot begin to catalog its virtues… The Plough and the Stars is the kind of show whose unflinching honesty will leave you open-mouthed with awe.” – The Wall Street Journal
With Úna Clancy, Terry Donnelly, Rory Duffy, Meg Hennessy, John Keating, Robert Langdon Lloyd, Ed Malone, Michael Mellamphy, Clare O’Malley, Adam Petherbridge, Maryann Plunkett, James Russell, Harry Smith, and Sarah Street
Pretty young newlywed Nora Clitheroe is the talk of her tenement as she tirelessly works to lift her family out of their impoverished circumstances. She tries to keep her husband Jack from the revolutionary fervor sweeping through Dublin. But Jack becomes a Commandant in the Irish Citizen Army, and when the Easter Rising of 1916 begins, he leaves a pregnant Nora to help lead the fight. The disparate, quarrelsome tenement residents are forced to shelter together as urban warfare makes their home nearly as treacherous as the streets. Passions and ideals rise and converge, but in the end, loss and devastation triumph over the promise of a new Ireland.
This powerful play is widely hailed as O’Casey’s most complex and masterful work. Its premiere at the Abbey Theatre in 1926 was met with riots condemning O’Casey’s negative portrayal of the recent revolution and its heros. However, the play was otherwise successful, receiving wide acclaim both in Ireland and abroad. Drawing from his own childhood and experiences with the Irish labor movement and in the Irish Citizen Army, The Plough and the Stars is among O’Casey’s most autobiographical works.
The Plough and the Stars inspired the first collaboration between Irish Rep founders Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly, and in 1988, it was Irish Rep’s first production. It was staged once more at Irish Rep in 1997. Both productions were directed by Charlotte Moore. We are delighted to return to the play that started it all for our 30th anniversary season.
The Plough and the Stars (1926), along with The Shadow of a Gunman (1923) and Juno and the Paycock (1924) make up Sean O’Casey’s Dublin Trilogy (or Dublin Plays), presented here in repertory as Irish Rep’s O’Casey Cycle, which established O’Casey as one of the major figures in modern drama. These masterpieces introduced O’Casey’s innovative playwriting style, which balances deeply comic and tragic elements in an atmosphere of stark realism. These plays premiered during a time of revolution and civil strife throughout Ireland, proving both provocative and popular, and establishing O’Casey’s legacy among the most influential and enduring playwrights in history. This spring, don’t miss this rare opportunity to see Sean O’Casey’s full Dublin Trilogy – subscribe to the O’Casey Cycle!
“A riveting production” – Newsweek
“outstanding… the cast is exceptional” – Theatermania
★★★★ “[Maryann] Plunkett, always a powerhouse, gives the performance of a lifetime.” – Time Out New York
★★★★★ “a masterful production… The Plough and the Stars throbs with robust life… It’s not merely a pleasure so much as a downright privilege to see The Plough and the Stars and its companion dramas produced as astutely as they’re staged here.” – New York Stage Review – Michael Sommers
★★★★★ “See this production for several reasons: because it’s O’Casey in rep being put on by one of New York’s most vibrant off-broadway companies; because it has something to say about what is happening in our society today; because MaryAnn Plunkett’s talent will make you feel compassion for someone you thought you despised.” – New York Theatre Guide
★★★★★ “a must-see… played by a flawless troupe” – New York Stage Review – David Finkle
“timeless and heartfelt” – Talkin’ Broadway