Monthly Archives: August 2021


Sorry, Wrong Number

A Druid and RTÉ Radio Drama On One co-production
Written by Lucille Fletcher

‘I’m calling to report a murder.’

Described by Orson Welles as ‘the greatest single radio script ever written’, Sorry, Wrong Number is a whip-smart radio thriller set in 1940s New York.

Tony Award winner Marie Mullen leads the cast playing a woman who overhears a murder plot on the telephone.

The other actors lending their voice talents to this all-star Irish ensemble are Andrew Bennett, Venetia Bowe, Peter Daly, Brian Doherty, Seán McGinley, Rory Nolan and Helen Norton.

Druid takes to the national airwaves for the first time, partnering with RTÉ Radio Drama On One, for this short, sharp and wicked slice of New York noir.

Sorry, Wrong Number is a Druid at Home presentation and was first broadcast on Sunday 29 August 2021 on RTÉ Radio 1.

Join the conversation: #SorryWrongNumber #DruidAtHome

How to Listen

Sorry, Wrong Number is now available to listen to on demand on the Drama On One website.

You can also find it on the Drama On One podcast by searching ‘Drama On One’ on your podcast app.

Running time: 30 mins approx.

In the Wings

After recording Sorry, Wrong Number, some of the company sat down with the RTÉ Drama On One team to chat about the play as well the history of Druid and their careers to date in a segment called In the Wings.

Listen to director Garry Hynes and actors Brian Doherty, Seán McGinley and Marie Mullen on the RTÉ Drama On One website.

You can also listen to In the Wings on the RTÉ Drama On One podcast by searching ‘Drama On One’ on your podcast app.

Image: Julia Monard



  • Andrew Bennett
  • Venetia Bowe
  • Peter Daly
  • Brian Doherty
  • Seán McGinley
  • Marie Mullen
  • Rory Nolan
  • Helen Norton


  • Director Garry Hynes


  • Sound Supervision Ruth Kennington
  • Series Producer Kevin Reynolds


(Alastair Curtis’s article appeared on Frieze, 8/21; Photo: Frances McDormand, Frankie Faison, and Marjolaine Goldsmith in Theater of War Frontline, Mount Sinai, 2020. Courtesy: Theater of War Productions.)

How Theater of War Productions uses ancient stories to lead COVID-19 health workers out of silence and into a healing experience of community

The actor Frankie Faison is cursing into his Zoom camera. He is playing Philoctetes: a once-mighty military general, abandoned for nine years on a desolate island because of his suppurating, foul-smelling foot, the result of a mysterious infection. Now, a young soldier named Neoptolemus has arrived from Greece – Taylor Schilling, in another Zoom screen – reluctantly tasked with stealing Philoctetes’s fabled bow, a weapon prophesied to end the Trojan War after ten bloody years. In Philoctetes, written 2,500 years ago in 409 BCE, the playwright Sophocles presents Neoptolemus with a stark dilemma: can he carry through his generals’ orders, or should he take pity on the sick man screaming before him? 

Watching along with me are 882 doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, mainly based in the US – although in the post-show discussion we also hear from audiences further afield, in South America and Europe. From their Zoom backgrounds it is clear many are between shifts, sat in staff kitchens and hospital waiting rooms. Eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and this audience more than most knows what it is like to feel as scared and helpless as Neoptolemus in the face of suffering – Philoctetes’s screaming fills them with dread.

These performances occur monthly, free to access online, as part of an unconventional public health project organized by the New York City-based Theater of War Productions. After the show, audiences are invited to respond to the play through their own experience as part of a town-hall-style conversation mediated by a panel of health practitioners and psychiatrists. Since the pandemic began, it has provided a sympathetic, safe space for health workers to share the feelings of upset, shame and horror they have accumulated on the frontline. I witness remarkably cathartic results: tears and smiles of recognition and relief. Much of the audience empathizes with Neoptolemus, and identifies in him their own experience of compassion fatigue – a type of stress derived from helping those who are traumatized.

(Read more)


(Mark Kennedy’s article appeared in the News-Herald, 8/28; Photo: FILE – Theater’s line 45th Street in New York on May 13, 2020. As Broadway reopens this fall, proof of full vaccination are required for entry and masks are mandated while moving through the theater. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File.)

NEW YORK (AP) — There’s a woman who has seen the play “Pass Over” multiple times in just a few days. She sat with the audience one night, returned another day to stand at the back of the theater and once stayed backstage for an entire performance.

She’s not exactly a super fan. Don’t get her wrong, Dr. Blythe Adamson loves the play. But she was searching for something more than a jolt of live theater — ways to lower the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

Adamson is tasked with making the August Wilson Theatre safer on both sides of the stage. She has climbed onto the roof to inspect the new HVAC ventilation system that brings in fresh air and put portable air filters around the building. She has talked to stage managers to understand the movement of people backstage and hung out in the lobby during shows to look for chokepoints. She once spent a performance loitering at the bathrooms to see how patrons could spread the virus.

“Bringing together more than a thousand people into one room during a pandemic, as an epidemiologist, is something that I would not endorse if I didn’t really believe that it can be done safely,” said Adamson, founder of Infectious Economics, which has helped develop protocols for the NBA, the fashion industry and retail stores.

Adamson is part of a new group crucial to Broadway’s reopening this season: Professionals grounded in science tasked with ensuring a COVID-19 free zone.

“It’s all about reducing risk,” said Mimi Intagliata, director of production at Disney Theatrical Group who is in charge of its virus response. “We on Broadway aren’t going to get rid of COVID any more than anybody else. But it’s about reducing our risk so that we keep our folks as safe as we can and keep the show going.”

Air is now constantly circulating inside the August Wilson Theatre, thanks to the placement of portable air fans and air filters with MERV-13 or HEPA technology. Adamson cut the number of people who can go backstage and recommended PCR testing for COVID-19 for everyone, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. All workers now wear KN95 masks.

Adamson endorses a policy of layered solutions — multiple, overlapping efforts that currently is grounded on rigorous personal testing and air filters everywhere. It means listening to the latest science and changing protocols if necessary. It means bracing for the inevitable positive test result.

(Read more)


(Eve Jackson’s article appeared on France24, 8/27.)

When the Taliban swept back into power in Afghanistan on August 16, Kabul-based artist and curator Rada Akbar felt she had no other option than to leave. Last week, she managed to escape to France, where she is now in quarantine. In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24’s culture editor Eve Jackson, Akbar describes the Taliban’s bloody crackdown on female artists. “They would either put me in prison or kill me,” she said.

Over the past few months, Akbar had been working with French authorities to try to get her artwork out of Kabul. When she felt she could no longer stay in Afghanistan, the authorities helped her evacuate.

Akbar is known for her striking self-portraits that represent independence and heritage, and has an annual exhibition called Abarzanan, which translates as “Superwomen”.

The installation honours Afghan women who’ve shown strength and resilience in the face of misogyny and patriarchal oppression. Earlier this year, however, the exhibition was forced online after the artist received death threats.

(Read more)


(Nobuko Tanaka’s article appeared in the Japan Times, 8/26; Strong bonds: Keito Okamoto (right) says his admiration for his father, Kenichi (left), drew him to the role of Nicolas in Florian Zeller’s play, ‘The Son.’)

When Keito Okamoto was offered the title role in French dramatist Florian Zeller’s latest work, “The Son,” he felt the play was written about him.

“It was completely astonishing,” he says. And what makes taking on the role more special is that he will be making his stage debut opposite his actual father, Kenichi.

“The Son,” which is set to open Aug. 30 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre in Toshima Ward, centers on a fraught father-son relationship. An intense dissection of family dynamics, the play is mainly set in the apartment of the father, Pierre, whose deeply troubled teenage son, Nicolas, has been caught skipping school. Withdrawn and angry, Nicolas’ behavior baffles Pierre and his ex-wife, Anne (Mayumi Wakamura), who try to help their child while balancing their own personal lives. Despite their best efforts and those of Pierre’s girlfriend, Sofia (Kayo Ise), who has just given birth, nothing seems to draw Nicolas out of his gloomy world as he darkly repeats: “I don’t understand what’s happening to me.”

“The Son” is the final installment of Zeller’s family-themed trilogy, which began with 2010’s “The Mother,” whose middle-aged title character is beset with feelings that her life has no meaning, followed by “The Father” in 2012. Centering on an old man who begins to suspect his daughter is trying to steal his apartment as he grapples with dementia, “The Father” garnered numerous awards in France, Britain and the United States, in addition to a best actor prize from Japan’s prestigious Yomiuri Theater Awards for Isao Hashizume when it was staged by French director Ladislas Chollat at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre in 2019.

Chollat, one of Zeller’s closest collaborators, has now returned to Japan to present the last part of the trilogy. Rather than being concerned about a real father and son pair playing the lead roles in this edgy drama, Chollat says he was “so pleased” that the Okamotos accepted this offer — “despite it being quite risky casting due to their relationship.”

Kenichi, 52, is the former vocalist and guitarist for the Johnny & Associates pop group Otokogumi. After the group split in 1993, he immersed himself in theater as an actor and director, winning awards, such as a Yomiuri Theater Award for best actor, along the way. Keito, 28, has followed a similar path, spending most of the past decade in the Johnny’s boy band Hey! Say! Jump. In 2018, Keito decided to take a break for two years to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, before leaving the group in April to dedicate himself to theater.

(Read more)



(Jessica Gel’s article appeared in the Los Angeles Times, 8/24; Photo: Johnny Clark, artistic director of VS. Theatre Company, left, and Circle X Theatre Co.’s Tim Wright on the stage of their new show, “Stand Up if You’re Here Tonight” on Aug. 19 at Atwater Village Theatre. They are testing the waters with an indoor show in the middle of a Delta surge.) 

On the night before Independent Shakespeare Co. was to stage its press preview for “The Tempest,” vandals snuck onto the Griffith Park set and destroyed it. They smashed the lights and cut all the cables, causing about $15,000 in damage.

Artistic Director David Melville got a call from the city the following morning and rushed to the site of the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival. With the aid of volunteers, the set was resurrected and the show went on that evening — the first live performance the company pulled off in 18 months.

To riff on a viral meme about this perilous new phase of the pandemic: If the August opening of “The Tempest” represented the hopes, dreams and grand plans of L.A.’s small theater companies in the spring and early summer, when vaccinations soared and COVID-19 infections plummeted, then the park vandals represented the Delta variant.

Taking that analogy further: Melville’s stamina in the face of disaster, and the dozens of patrons who pitched in the money to cover losses from the incident, illustrate the tenacious mindset of vulnerable nonprofit theaters as Delta rampages across the country.

And so the question looms: How much longer can these companies stay afloat financially? With pandemic funding drying up, 99-seat theaters are scrambling to stay on track with reopenings that were planned during better days.

Rising infections in L.A. forced Independent Shakespeare Co. to work in tandem with the city to cap the park audience at 250.

In normal times the company would stage two festival shows over 10 or 11 weeks, often attracting more than 1,000 people a night and earning about $150,000 in donations. In the summer of Delta, ISC is staging one show for five weeks, and Melville estimates the effort will generate about $40,000 to $45,000 in donations.

(Read more)


(from the Associated Press, 8/23.)

PARIS (AP) — The remains of American-born singer and dancer Josephine Baker will be reinterred at the Pantheon monument in Paris, making the entertainer who is a World War II hero in France the first Black woman to get the country’s highest honor.

Le Parisien newspaper reported Sunday that French President Emmanuel Macron decided to organize a ceremony on Nov. 30 at the Paris monument, which houses the remains of scientist Marie Curie, French philosopher Voltaire, writer Victor Hugo and other French luminaries. 

The presidential palace confirmed the newspaper’s report.

After her death in 1975, Baker was buried in Monaco, dressed in a French military uniform with the medals she received for her role as part of the French Resistance during the war.

Baker will be the fifth woman to be honored with a Pantheon burial and will also be the first entertainer honored.

Holocaust survivor Simone Veil, one of France’s most revered politicians, was buried at the Pantheon in 2018. The other women are two who fought with the French Resistance during World War II — Germaine Tillion and Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz — and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Curie.

The monument also holds the remains of 72 men.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Baker became a megastar in the 1930s, especially in France, where she moved in 1925 as she was seeking to flee racism and segregation in the United States. 

(Read more)


(Donald Clarke’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 8/21. Photo: Juliet Stevenson: ‘The union was a big part of our lives. It seems absurd for a bunch of actors to be talking about the revolution. But we did that then.’)

She comes to Galway next month (kind of) in an adaptation of José Saramago’s Blindness

Juliet Stevenson has been a force in British acting for more than four decades. She landed at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in the late 1970s and, after a short period of spear carrying, triumphed as Isabella in Measure for Measure, Rosalind in As You Like It and Madame de Tourvel in the company’s legendary production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. She was scientist Rosalind Franklin in the BBC’s terrific Life Story from 1987. We could go on.

For a brief moment there was, however, a possibility that she could have become something else. Anthony Minghella’s Truly, Madly Deeply, in which she played a cellist communing supernaturally with her late husband, was a critical and financial hit in 1990. 

“My agent said: ‘you have got to go to Hollywood’,” she says. “ ‘Go for the big stuff.’ I absolutely couldn’t manage that. I just didn’t feel that was my element at all. I thought: ‘I just can’t do this sh*t – schmoozing, swimming pools, wandering into casting directors’ offices? It is not my thing’.”

Rodeo Drive’s loss was Shaftesbury Avenue’s gain. She continued to boss the West End. She is immovable from high-end television. And now she is available to light up the Galway International Arts Festival in Simon Stephens’s adaptation of José Saramago’s novel Blindness. Or is she? Premiered last August in London’s Donmar Warehouse, the show, a timely tale of a pandemic, makes use of the actor’s recorded voice. The audience sit in spookily lit, isolated positions and listen as an unseen Stevenson, preserved in a binaural sound, drifts around them.

“No, I won’t be there,” she says. “I would give my eye teeth to be in Galway. I love it – one of my favourite places on earth, but no. I’m not saying this because I’m selling the show to you, but, when I went to it, I thought: ‘well, this is not going to be very immersive’. But lots of my mates said to me: ‘I honestly thought you were at the show because you knew I was coming today – that you decided to do it live.’ They felt that.”

Recorded on complex microphones shaped to emulate the human head, the sound replicates the experience of a source moving left, right, above and below. But does this still counts as live theatre. Stevens, the hugely prolific theatre maker best known for his adaptation of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, has thought deeply about this.

But the assembling of strangers in one place for a shared experience is also a vital part

“I think it’s a fair question,” he says. “You know there was a time when we used semantics to suggest the opposite. Ha ha! When it was really clear that no piece of live theatre was legal in London. ‘It’s not theatre!’ It raises quite interesting philosophical questions. The form is predicated on two elements. One of the elements I think is inarguably missing: the live presence of a performer. I think it would be disingenuous to lie about that. But the assembling of strangers in one place for a shared experience is also a vital part.”

It must have been strange attending the show last summer. The uncertainty and unease were that bit greater than they are today.

“Sitting in the space with people I’d never met before, experiencing this piece together was as theatrical an experience as I’ve ever had,” he says. “In that sense I would strongly argue that there’s much which is very theatrical about this.”

Saramago’s 1995 novel concerns a city afflicted by an inexplicable epidemic of blindness. Stevenson’s character is spared and is thus able to talk us through the near-total breakdown of society. Noting that this is a “testimony of a survivor”, Stephens argues we are dealing with an optimistic text. Really? There are some grim messages here. At any rate, it feels like the ideal project for the pandemic years. And yet . . .

(Read more)


The words and wisdom of Constantin Stanislavski:

To the accompaniment of a pianist’s improvisations, the pupils lived for hours in rhythm, explaining in their actions how they felt the music. Relying on the same bases of the sensations of inner rhythm and action they learned to walk, to do gymnastics, plastic and other exercises in my system for the development of correct consciousness of self in which rhythm plays a great and important part. There was a whole series of exercises and classes for the development of the feeling for the word and speech, for an altogether exceptional amount of attention was paid to diction in the opera. (MLIA)