Fifth annual free Irish Film Series announced at Fairfield University


Image: LibraryThe Irish Studies Program at Fairfield University will celebrate the fifth anniversary of its Irish in Film Series with six free screenings of plays by acclaimed Anglo-Irish playwright John Millington Synge. The films are all live, stage productions directed by Gary Hynes of the Druid Theatre Company, Galway, Ireland.
 
The film series is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be served.
 
All films, produced in Dublin in 2007, will be screened in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library multimedia room on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., except the first film, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. The film series is part of Fairfield's Arts & Minds season of cultural and intellectual programming.
 
The festival opens on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at 7:30 p.m. with "The Playboy of the Western World" (1907), considered the definitive work of the Irish Literary Renaissance. Its first performances caused riots at Dublin's Abbey Theatre. Christy Mahon (Aaron Monaghan), a timid young farmer who appears one night at a remote pub, confesses that he's wanted for killing his father. Instead of being appalled, the locals are impressed by Christy's "hanging crime," and he is given shelter at the pub, where he transforms himself into a poet-hero. Nels Pearson, Ph.D., director of Irish Studies and film series' host, will introduce the film.
 
On Wednesday, March 7, at 7:00 p.m., two one-act plays will be offered: "Riders to the Sea," introduced by Prof. Marion White, who teaches in the Irish Studies Program; and "The Tinker's Wedding," introduced by William Abbott, D.Phil., associate professor of history.
 
"The Riders to the Sea" (1904) is set on Inishmore and is an accurate portrayal of Aran Island peasant life. The play is epic in its theme of man against the powerful forces of nature. Marie Mullen takes on the leading role of Maurya, who has lost all the men in her life to drowning.
 
"The Tinker's Wedding" (1907) is a controversial comedy with an anti-clerical theme in which a uncharitable parish priest (Eamon Morrissey) disgraces his collar by sitting down by the roadside and drinking with a tinker woman Mary Byrne (Marie Mullen). Synge appreciated the wildness and humor of the tinkers and their wish to live unsettled lives.
 
Robert Epstein, Ph.D., associate professor of English, will introduce "Deirdre of the Sorrows" (1910) on March 21. Published posthumously, the play deals with ill-fated Deirdre (Gemma Reeves), who runs off to Scotland with her love only to have to return to fulfill her epic prophesy. It is the stuff of Celtic and Irish myth.
 
On March 28, Synge scholar Rob Doggett, Ph.D., assistant professor of English at SUNY Geneseo, will present Synge's first play, "In the Shadow of the Glen" (1903), a comedy about a May-December marriage with a resurrection theme, starring Mick Lally, Louise Lewis and Eamon Morrissey. Synge got the material for the play from a story he heard on a visit to the Aran Islands.
 
On April 11, Dr. Pearson will introduce the final film, "The Well of the Saints" (1905).  The three-act play concerns two blind old beggars, Martin Doul (Eamon Morrissey) and his ugly wife Mary (Marie Mullen), who sit by the roadside in all kinds of weather, and are cruelly mocked by the locals. When the couple's sight is miraculously restored, the theme of the play - the conflict between illusion and reality, the dream world and the visible world - is crystal clear.
 
For more information, contact Marion White, Irish Studies Program, at (203) 254-4000, ext. 3021 or mwhite@fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, mguinness@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 8, 2012

Vol. 44, No. 193