The Eugene O’Neill International Festival of Theatre

St Michaels Theatre Centre for the Arts, South Street, New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland

Ireland is set to celebrate one of its greatest sons, the award-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill in New Ross in County Wexford this October 10th to 14th at the Eugene O’Neill International Festival of Theatre. Eugene’s father James O’Neill was born in nearby Tinneranny in 1845 and emigrated from New Ross to America as a young boy in 1851.

The historic St Michael’s Theatre in New Ross will be the main venue for the inaugural Eugene O’Neill International Festival of Theatre which will open with a special screening of The Count of Monte Cristo accompanied by an illustrated talk on the relationship between James and his son Eugene, it will also be accompanied by an especially created musical score by WIT music lecturer and performer Phil Collins.

O’Neill’s tale of two lonely strangers in ‘Hughie’ will be staged and directed as an especially reimagined piece by Eric Hayes, artistic director of the Eugene O’Neill Foundation in Danville, California.

An epic production of ‘mourning becomes Electra’ will be staged on the afternoon of October 13th as O’Neill’s great trilogy of plays is directed by Ben Barnes with a strong cast in a two-part staged reading of this rarely performed masterpiece with music composed and performed by Eleanor McEvoy and the Irish soprano, Clodagh Kinsella.

On Sunday, October 14th Don Wycherley stars in the touching and entertaining My Real Life by Wexford writer Eoin Colfer. And daily from October 11th to 14th The Glencairn Plays will be staged on board the replica famine ship the Dunbrody. O’Neill’s cycle of one-act plays will be directed by Paul Walsh set aboard the fictional ship the ‘SS Glencairn’, Bound East for Cardiff, The Long Voyage Home and In the Zone. Also on offer is a series of lunchtime talks at New Ross Library. The expert-led talks and discussions will be on Eugene O’Neill’s influence on modern Irish theatre and on the Graves Shipping Company and the New Ross diaspora.

Eugene O’Neill’s father James was born in 1845 in Tinneranny, one mile from New Ross; he emigrated as a small boy with his family from the quayside of New Ross in 1851. James became one of America’s most promising Shakespearean actors and he is most well known for his role as the lead in the famous Count of Monte Cristo. James’ son Eugene O’Neill remains the only American playwright to win the Nobel Prize and also four Pulitzer Prizes, Eugene retired to Tao House in Danville, California in 1937 where he then wrote four of America’s greatest plays including his autobiographical masterwork, Long Days Journey Into Night.

At Tao House in Danville this September and at St Michael’s Theatre in New Ross this October, in a partnership the festival organiser’s call “One Festival, Two Countries”, a celebration of the life and works of both James and Eugene O’Neill will take place in their adopted and ancestral countries. 

Tickets to the festival weekend at St. Michael’s Theatre in New Ross are available at €100. Tickets for individual events will issue on September 1st (subject to availability), for further details see www.eugeneoneillfestival.com

 
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