Druid announces The Stars and Stripes Shaded Green

An Irish American play reading series at The Mick Lally Theatre

27 October 2022

Druid today announced a new play reading series, The Stars and Stripes Shaded Green, to explore the Irish American theatrical canon, taking place in The Mick Lally Theatre, Galway from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 November.

Brian Friel’s Phildelphia, Here I Come! and other Irish plays have told the stories of the Irish who emigrated to America. But what about the stories of the Irish Americans, the Irish who settled in America, and their descendants?

This series of public readings will explore plays written by Irish Americans and about Irish Americans, will examine the connections between Irish and American myth, and will shine an Irish light on works of the Irish American canon. These plays were written an ocean away from their ancestral home yet they are infused with the cadences of Irish thought and language.

Garry Hynes will direct a company of actors who will bring to life three Irish American plays: Harvey by Mary Chase, Hogan’s Goat by William Alfred and The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder.

Harvey by Mary Chase is a 1944 comedy-drama about a man whose best friend is a giant invisible white rabbit and the trouble caused when his sister seeks psychiatric care for him. Chase was raised Irish Catholic in Denver, Colorado and won the Pulitzer Prize for Harvey. A film adaptation of her play starring James Stewart premiered in 1950.

Hogan’s Goat by William Alfred opened off-Broadway in 1965, starring Faye Dunaway. The play centres on a mayoral contest between Irish Americans in Brooklyn in 1890 and was influenced by the experiences of Hogan’s immigrant great grandmother. Playwright, poet and Harvard professor of English literature, William Alfred was born into an Irish family in Brooklyn.

The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder has a long theatrical history and is the fourth iteration of a 19th-century English play. The Matchmaker premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1954 before a West End run. In this production, a previously minor character, Dolly Gallagher Levi, an Irish widow who brokers marriages, becomes more prominent. Dolly is better known of course as the lead character in the musical adaptation of the play, Helly Dolly!

To conclude the play reading series, there will be a panel discussion featuring Druid’s Artistic Director Garry Hynes and acclaimed American theatre producer Jack Viertel, who has collaborated with Garry and Druid for many years and is a guest dramaturg for The Stars and Stripes Shaded Green. The panel discussion will be chaired by Patrick Lonergan, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Galway.

Garry Hynes, Druid’s Artistic Director: ‘We know well the stories of the Irish who embarked on long journeys to America but what happened to them after they stepped off the boat? I have long wanted to explore these Irish American stories that inhabit a liminal theatrical space somewhere between Ireland and America. I look forward to hearing these classic plays read aloud, to see how they sound when read by Irish actors and in front of Irish audiences. I’m also delighted to collaborate once again with my long-time friend and colleague Jack Viertel and to welcome him to Galway for this exciting theatrical experiment.’