Wednesday, November 20, 2013



A landmark symposium on Patrick Pearse's theatric work hopes to encourage new productions of the neglected plays of the Irish revolutionary.

Experts on Patrick Pearse will travel from across Europe at the end of the month to attend ‘Pearse and the Theatre’, a  bilingual symposium on the plays of the Irish rebel and writer, which takes place in St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra on the 29th and 30th of November. The organizers of the two-day symposium on the Irish rebel’s dramatic work hope that this special event will encourage a new generation of Irish theatre makers to stage Pearse’s plays, which caused both controversy and excitement when first produced.
 As well as featuring lively discussion on all aspects of Pearse’s work in the theatre, the programme for ‘Pearse and the Theatre’ also includes a workshop for actors and directors guided by Colm Hefferon and a musical performance led by harpist Síle Denvir that will help to bring the 1916 leader's plays to life.

 As the 100-year commemoration of the Easter Rising  approaches, this special event will shed new light on an important area of Pearse’s work that has been largely neglected. In the years before he became an icon of rebellion, Patrick Pearse was obsessed with the theatre.   As the author and producer of hugely popular plays in both Irish and English he was the imaginative force behind pageants that were staged on remarkable scale. Contemporary performances of Pearse’s works attracted large and enthusiastic audiences to various locations around Dublin - including St. Enda's School, the Abbey Theatre, the Mansion House Jones Road (now Croke Park) - while many leading figures from the worlds of culture and politics were involved in the preparation, promotion, and staging of his of art and literature helped stage the ambitious scripts.  
The plays themselves were often allegories for Pearse's political vision and he drew on the theatrical expertise of his brother Willie and their circle of friends to devise innovative productions that included spectacular open-air performances. 

One of the lesser known plays under discussion, The Singer, which dealt with the morality of rebellion, was in rehearsal in the weeks before the Rising but the production was abandoned as history took centre stage.
Speaking ahead of the symposium, Róisín Ní Ghairbhí, one of the co-organisers of 'Pearse and the Theatre', said: “We are looking forward to an exciting programme which will feature scholars, writers, directors and actors. Speakers from as far away as England, France and the Czech Republic will be travelling to participate and we are also inviting people directly involved in the theatre in the hope that these plays, some of which have been half forgotten for years, will be restaged for a new audience. There is something here for anyone with an interest in Pearse, the theatre, or this crucial period in Irish history.”
The keynote speakers at ‘Pearse and the Theatre’ are Brian Crowley, The Pearse Museum/OPW, author of the recently published Patrick Pearse: A Life In Pictures; Dr Elaine Sisson, Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology and author of Pearse's Patriots, St Enda's and the Cult of Boyhood; and Dr James Moran, University of Nottingham, author of Four Irish Rebel Plays.
The workshop and musical performance were specifically included in the programme to ensure that the texts discussed in the lectures are brought to life for participants and audience. The organisers hope that the gathering of scholars and practitioners will provide a fresh take on Pearse’s work in theatre. Actor director Colm Hefferon, who is facilitating the workshop, wants to ‘get away from ideology’. ‘I am interested in exploring the human aspect of the plays’ he says.
‘Pearse and the Theatre’ will explore a sometimes-overlooked dimension to Pearse’s life. The organizers of this unique symposium, Róisín Ní Ghairbhí and Eugene McNulty, earlier this year published Patrick Pearse; Collected Plays/Drámaí an Phiarsaigh, a new bilingual edition of Pearse's plays with Irish Academic Press. The symposium is being supported by Foras na Gaeilge.- For further information about ‘Pearse and the Theatre’ or to contact keynote speakers please contact  0833733151  or 0876461661 /

Click here to see the full programme for the event.

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