W. Scott McLucas Studio Theatre
Lovers: Winners* & The Yalta Game**
*50th Anniversary Production
**New York Premiere
Written by Brian Friel
Directed by Conor Bagley
With Phil Gillen, Aoife Kelly, Jenny Leona, and Aidan Redmond
“all four actors do strong work… if you have a taste for the bittersweet, there is serious and quiet pleasure to be had in that tiny room: Some tempests are best seen in teapots.” – Time Out New York
“All four actors are excellent in roles that demand wit and emotional range.” – The New Yorker
“Two By Friel is a must-see… enjoy every moment, every joy, every heartbreak in this glorious production, while it lasts.” – One Magazine
Two young lovers look toward the future. Two paramours live for the present.
Two by Friel juxtaposes two short plays by Irish master Brian Friel: Lovers: Winners (1967) and The Yalta Game (2001). Each piece centers on a couple in the blossoming stage of romance; they build worlds of imagination, possibility, and hope – pushing away the encroaching realities that threaten to extinguish their love.
Lovers: Winners follows the story of Mag and Joe, two teenage lovers who meet at the top of a hill to study for their final examinations, make plans for their upcoming wedding, and prepare for the child they are expecting. Meanwhile, two narrators relate the darker events surrounding that day.
In The Yalta Game, adapted from Chekhov’s short story “The Lady with the Lapdog,” Dmitry and Anna fall in love while on vacation from their spouses. In their courting, Dmitry teaches Anna about the Yalta game—a game in which visitors invent stories about the people they see in the square. But is their love—is any love—real or imagined? Forever or ephemeral?
This evening will explore the nature of love, the power of the imagination, the stories we believe, and those we brush aside.
Lovers (1967) and The Yalta Game (2001) were written toward the beginning and end, respectively, of Brian Friel’s illustrious career. We are proud to present the 50th anniversary production of Lovers; originally written in two parts: “Winners” and “Losers;” Lovers premiered at The Gate Theatre in Dublin in 1967 before its 1968 Broadway debut at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center. The Yalta Game is making its New York premiere with this production. Developed from a theme in Anton Chekhov’s 1899 story “The Lady with the Lapdog,” it was first produced by the Gate Theatre in 2001.
BRIAN FRIEL (Playwright) is widely recognized as one of the greatest contemporary dramatists of the English language. A prolific writer, who produced more than 30 plays in a career spanning six decades, his best-known works are: Philadelphia, Here I Come! (1964), The Freedom of the City (1973), Aristocrats (1979), Faith Healer (1979), Translations (1980), Dancing at Lughnasa (1990), Molly Sweeney (1993), Give Me Your Answer Do (1997), and The Home Place (2005), which was given its New York Premiere by Irish Repertory Theatre in 2017. In these and other plays he showed a fascination with pushing the boundaries of theatrical possibility. Friel once wrote: “For me the true gift of theatre, the real benediction of all art, is the ringing bell which reverberates quietly and persistently in the head long after the curtain has come down and the audience has gone home.”
CONOR BAGLEY (Director) Conor Bagley is a New York-based director and producer who, seven years ago, saw a Friel play at the Irish Rep. That play changed his life and made him want to direct for the stage. He couldn’t be prouder to be making his Irish Rep directorial debut with two gorgeous plays by Brian Friel. Directing: Sarah Sits Shiva for Herself (24 Hour Plays, Manhattan Rep); Mount Venus 2018 AD (Theatre Workshop of Nantucket); An Iliad (Atlas Performing Arts Center, DC); Shining City and Dancing at Lughnasa (Yale). Assistant Director: The Home Place by Brian Friel (Irish Rep, NYC); Donegal by Frank McGuinness (world premiere, Abbey Theatre, Dublin); Other Desert Cities (Theatre Workshop of Nantucket). Producing: Nantucket Emerging Artists Theatre Lab; Co-Producer of Broadway’s Once on this Island, winner of the 2018 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.