The Druid Theatre Company’s acclaimed production of Sean O’Casey’s The Silver Tassie is in New York for only 8 performances–from July 24 through July 31. Directed by Tony Award-Winner Garry Hynes, the controversial 1928 drama is about “two teenaged football heroes, plucked from the tenements of Dublin and lobbed into the French battlefields of World War I.”  It will be performed as part of the Lincoln Center Festival at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John J. College (Amsterdam Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets).

Verbatim Text and Reviews:

O'CASEY called the play, “A generous handful of stones, aimed indiscriminately, with the aim of breaking a few windows.”

WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS said to O’CASEY:  “You have no subject.”

        COLIN MURPHY in the Irish Independent: “The Silver Tassie,  renowned since . . .  the 1920s emerges in Garry Hynes's fine new production as one of the great (anti-) war plays.”

WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS continued, “The Abbey Theatre owed its recent prosperity to you, Sean.  If you had not brought your plays just at that moment I doubt it would now exist.”

       IAN SHUTTLEWORTH in the Financial Times: “Deserves to be far more widely seen. Five stars.”

WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS: “I am sad and discouraged . . .  You were interested in the Irish Civil War, Sean, and at every moment of those plays . . . you were excited and we all caught your excitement . . .  but you are not interested in the great war."

SEAN O’CASEY: “How do you know I’m not interested in the great war?”

        Poet and playwright FRANK MCGUINESS:  “The cruelest play in all Irish literature.”

       LYN GARDNER in the Guardian: “Remarkable . . . particularly in form. The second act in the  rain-drenched trenches will come like a punch in the stomach.”

SEAN O’CASEY: (to Yeats) “Your statement is to me an impudently ignorant one to make, for it happens that I was and am passionately interested in the Great War.”

        GARRY HYNES:  “Written in the O’Casey language that is one of the  glories of English literature.”

        The Irish Times: “Monumental.”

YEATS: “You never stood on its battlefields or walked its hospitals, and so write out of your opinions.”

O’CASEY:  “Do you really mean that no one should or could write about or speak about a war because one has not stood on the battlefield?  Was Shakespeare at Actium or Philippi?” 

YEATS: “The mere greatness of the World War has thwarted you—”

        PETER CRAWLEY in the Irish Times: “Druid’s ambitious new production, directed by Garry Hynes, recognizes a play full of jarring juxtapositions – a tragi-comedy about horror and loss which is full of  movement and song.”

        Irish Theatre Magazine: Druid’s production is “definitive.”

YEATS: “The whole history of the world must be reduced to wallpaper in front of which the characters must pose and speak—”

O’CASEY:  (repeating) “The whole history of the world must be reduced to wallpaper in front of which the characters must pose and speak—”

BERNARD SHAW: “My Dear Sean, what a hell of a play! I wonder how it will hit the public.  Of course the Abbey should have produced it. . . . If Yeats had said, 'It’s too savage; I can’t stand it,’ he would have been in order.  Cheerio Titan.”

YEATS: “I see nothing for it but a new theme, something you have found and no newspaper writer has ever found.  What business have we with anything but the unique?”

O’CASEY: “I have created the very, very thing you were looking for . . . something . . . unique.”

LADY GREGORY:  “My mind goes back to the Tassie–We ought not to have rejected it.”

Call for The Silver Tassie tickets at 212-721-6500 or visit LincolnCenterFestival.org.

(Quotations from O’Casey, Yeats, Shaw, and Gregory taken from Sean O’Casey: The Man and His Work by David Krause, The Macmillan Company, 1960, New York)

Photograph: Robert Day


Director/Photography: Marit Shuman

Text compilation: Bob Shuman

Druid Theatre Company brings Seán O’Casey’s classic drama to New York

The Silver Tassie

directed by Tony Award-winner Garry Hynes

Anti-war play to run July 24-31 as part of Lincoln Center Festival

Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes, whose DruidSynge was a high point of the 2006 Lincoln Center Festival, returns to New York on July 24, 2011 with the Druid Theatre Company’s production of Seán O’Casey’s The Silver Tassie, a searing drama set during and after World War I.  This rarely-staged O’Casey play will have eight performances at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, through July 31st.

The Silver Tassie

by Seán O’Casey

Garry Hynes, Artistic Director

Druid Theatre Company

July 24*, 26–30 at 8 p.m.; July 30–31 at 2 p.m.

*Preview performance

Director             Garry Hynes

Designer    Francis O’Connor

Movement  David Bolger with Vanessa Lefrancois

Lighting Designer Davy Cunningham

Sound Designer   John Leonard

Composer &       Elliot Davis

Music Director

Music Consultant Philip Chevron

Casting Director  Maureen Hughes

Eight performances; running time (approx): Two hours, 34 minutes, with two intermissions


Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College, Amsterdam Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets

Tickets: $80, 60, 40

“As searing an anti-war play as has ever been written.  It is almost impossibly difficult to stage successfully but Hynes managed it, pointing the finger at the idiocy and devastation of war as unerringly as even O’Casey might have wished.”  –Sunday Independent (Ireland)

Five years after the triumphant DruidSynge, its complete cycle of plays by John Millington Synge during Lincoln Center Festival 2006, (“This was a highlight not just of my theatergoing year, but of my theatergoing life,” said The New York Times’ Charles Isherwood), Ireland’s Druid Theatre Company returns with director Garry Hynes’ definitive production of Seán O’Casey’s The Silver Tassie.

The Silver Tassie takes place during and just after World War I and tells the story of two teenage football heroes who are plucked from the tenements of Dublin and thrown onto the battlefields of France.  The

“tassie” of the title refers to a silver trophy cup and to a poem by Robert Burns called The Silver Tassie about a young man going off to war.  This epic staging of one of O’Casey’s great plays involves all the resources of the theater, including live music and dance.”

O’Casey, born in Dublin in 1880, is perhaps best known for his Dublin trilogy written in a realist style: The Shadow of a Gunman (1923), Juno and the Paycock (1924), and The Plough and the Stars (1926). O’Casey’s first foray into expressionism, The Silver Tassie was first produced in London’s West End in 1929 after having been rejected by Dublin’s Abbey Theater and W.B. Yeats, who, among other objections, chided O’Casey on his lack of war experience. In fact, O’Casey had lived in Dublin throughout the war and observed how the global conflict resonated in Ireland. He also was a patient for a time in a Dublin hospital and was treated alongside soldiers home from the front. Between August 1914 and November 1918 approximately 210,000 Irish served in armed forces engaged in the First World War and 30,000 Irishmen died in the war: Ireland's greatest demographic catastrophe since the Great Famine.

The Silver Tassie explores the impact of war on a tight-knit group of family and friends. O’Casey shows how war’s destruction lays bare the hollowness of humanity and the futility of faith. Set against a backdrop of the founding of the Irish Republic, The Silver Tassie is a rendering of youth frayed by war, both faithful to the stark realism of traditional Irish theater as well as an exploration of the expressionistic possibilities of the stage.  O’Casey’s play has been described by poet and playwright Frank McGuiness as “the cruelest play in all Irish literature.” According to Hynes, “We might describe Tassie as a lament for those who gave their beauty, their prowess and their lives to a monstrous war, as a diatribe against those who gambled away lives and just kept the war going, or as a loving reckoning with those who had to go on with their lives after the war . . . and all of this is written in the O’Casey language that is one of the glories of English literature.”

The play, which was first produced in America by the New York Irish City Theater in New York in 1929 (another production followed in 1949 by the Interplayers Theater at Carnegie Hall), has become part of the theater tradition throughout Europe. An opera based on the play, composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage with a libretto by Amanda Holden, was staged by the English National Opera in London in 2000 and by Opera Ireland in Dublin in 2001. The Druid Theatre Company’s “monumental production” (Irish Times) of The Silver Tassie—which has numerous new songs by Elliot Davis with lyrics by O’Casey—toured nine cities in Ireland and two in the UK from August to October 2010.

Garry Hynes founded Druid in 1975 and was its Artistic Director from 1975 to 1991.  She returned to her post in 1995.  From 1991 to 1994 she was Artistic Director of The Abbey Theater in Dublin. She has also worked with The Gate Theater (Ireland) and internationally with The Royal Shakespeare Company and The Royal Court (UK); with Second Stage, Signature Theater, and Manhattan Theater Club in New York; and with The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Her awards include a Tony for directing Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1998); the Joe A. Calloway Award (New York) for directing Mr. McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan; honorary doctorates from the University of Dublin (2004) and the National University of Ireland (1998), and the National Council for Education Awards (1998). She is also the recipient of The Irish Times/ESB Irish Theater Award for Best Director and a Special Tribute Award for her contribution to Irish Theater (2005). In December 2010, Hynes was appointed Adjunct Professor of Drama and Theater Studies at NUI Galway.

Druid Theater is a multi-award winning theater company based in Galway, on the west coast of Ireland.  The company tours world-class theater at home and abroad and since 1986 has toured the US on a regular basis.  In the first half of 2011, Druid will tour three shows, including The Silver Tassie, over 22 weeks around the US.  These will feature as part of Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year-long season of Irish arts in America in 2011.  In 1998 Druid won four Tony awards for The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh, directed by Garry Hynes.  Recent US tours have included The Walworth Farce by Edna Walsh (2009) and The Playboy of the Western World by J.M. Synge (2008).

This presentation of The Silver Tassie was made possible in part with the support of Culture Ireland as part of Imagine Ireland, a year of Irish arts in America in 2011.


The Silver Tassie

Garrett Lombard – Harry Heegan

Marion O’Dwyer – Mrs. Foran

Eamon Morrissey – Sylvester Heegan & The Corporal

Bush Moukarzel – The Visitor

Liam Carney – Teddy Foran

Clare Dunne – Susie Monican

Charlie Murphy – Jessie Taite

John Olohan – Simon Norton & The Staff-Wallah

Brian Gleeson – Barney Bagnel

Ruth Hegarty – Mrs. Heegan & The Sister of the Ward

Adam Welsh – Soldiers in France

Ger Kelly – Soldiers in France

Elliot Harper – Soldiers in France & Surgeon Forby Maxwell

Chris Doyle – Soldiers in France

Lara Connaughton – Young chorus

John Gaughan – Young chorus

Miriam Ward – Young chorus 

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