Monday, December 2, 2013

Druid and the Colleen Bawn - from 1978 to present

Druid cast of the Colleen Bawn, 1978
It's been thirty-five years since Druid Theatre staged Dion Boucicault's the Colleen Bawn. Looking back through the archive of such a body of work, it highlights much about the variances in the early Druid repertoire. Then, the young Druid Theatre company was hardly three years old and developments were well in motion that were making all involved with the Galway group stand out for recognition. People might not be aware of the range of work which Druid was producing at that time, and so much of it being recent non-Irish work also.

The 1978 season saw Druid produce the Colleen Bawn along with Tom Stoppard's After Margritte, Anton Checkov's the Proposal, The Glass Menagerie by Tennesse Williams and Woyzeck by George Buchner. Along with Boucicault's frantic and wild action, characters and language it is interesting to see Druid programming work by Boucicault, which would not have been too commonly familiar to many Irish audiences.

[Paul O'Neill] and Marie Mullen
This revival by Druid is a timely chance to dip into the archive and see some of the items and resources available for study of past productions of this play and one from Druid's early and formative years. The initial cast featured Marie Mullen, Sean McGinley, Pat Connaghton, Paul O'Neill and the play was designed and directed by Garry Hynes. Included in the archives are numerous production shots of the cast in costume and in production, original scripts used by Marie Mullen and Sean McGinley, with annotation and notes by both, lighting and cue sheets, programmes, posters and other such documents, each telling their own story of the history of this play.
Programme from the 1978 production

It is really exciting to see a new staging of the Colleen Bawn coming to the Galway stage. If you have any friends or family who may have seen this original production in in 1978 we would love to hear from you! Do leave a comment.

For more records about The Colleen Bawn or other productions from Druid's archive, please click here for the full archive catalogue. 

For more on the current production of the Colleen Bawn, see for details.

Sean McGinley's script, with handwritten annotation


  1. I believe the man credited as Paul O'Neill is actually Diarmuid Burke (but am not 100% sure on that so don't quote me). Great article!

  2. Thanks for the comment! We were unsure ourselves but if anyone would like to help us out we love to hear.