“A theatrical experience that claws at the imagination for days afterwards.” —Variety
It’s 11 o’clock in the morning in a council flat on the Walworth Road in southeast London. In two hours time, as is normal, three Irish men will have consumed six cans of Harp, 15 crackers with spreadable cheese, ten pink biscuit wafers, and one oven-cooked chicken with a strange blue sauce. In two hours time, as is normal, five people will have been killed. The internationally acclaimed tour de force The Walworth Farce, by provocateur/playwright Enda Walsh and Ireland’s Druid Theatre, will be performed in the Walker Art Center’s McGuire Theater on Wednesday–Saturday, October 21–24, at 8 pm, and on Saturday–Sunday, October 24–25, at 2 pm. The groundbreaking production of this remarkable play was a hit in Galway, Edinburgh, and New York. Edgy Irish playwright Walsh brings a punk-rock abandon and ingenious theatrical devices to a work that combines hilarious moments with shocking realism. Ultimately, he delivers achingly tender insight into what happens when we become stuck in the stories we tell ourselves about our lives. Co-presented with the Guthrie Theater WorldStage Series.
Although Walsh’s expert crafting and his ear for language fit within the well-honed traditions of Irish drama, he is part of a new “Celtic Tiger” generation of playwrights (Conor McPherson, Brian Friel, Martin McDonagh) more influenced by urban dystopias and globalization than country pubs and in-depth character studies. In Disco Pigs, Walsh’s 1996 play that became a hit throughout Europe, a pair of club kids screens out the world with their own language; just as the audience catches on, the teens’ relationship crumbles. Similarly, once the underpinnings of The Walworth Farce’s play-within-a-play begin to reveal themselves, a proverbial knock upon the door derails the proceedings. Slapstick collides abruptly with the silence of shock.
The intensity conjured by this Irish provocateur has connections to experimental performance from American companies such as the Wooster Group and Elevator Repair Service, both of whom have appeared at the Walker. Just as Walsh’s voice—at once poetic and punk, lyrical and exploratory—makes him a kind of bridge figure between experimental work and more traditional plays, his Walworth Farce is the ideal occasion for a copresentation by the Walker and the Guthrie Theater.
Druid was founded in Galway in 1975 by graduates of the National University of Ireland, Galway, Garry Hynes, Mick Lally, and Marie Mullen, and is the first professional theater company in Ireland to be based outside Dublin. The company has had two artistic directors: Garry Hynes (1975–1991 and 1995 to present) and Maeliosa Stafford (1991–1994).
Firmly based in what was once an abandoned rundown part of town but now is the most visited part of Galway city, Druid presents work at home in Galway as well as throughout Ireland. The company also tours to key global centers around the world making Druid one of the best-known theater companies in the English-speaking world. In 2009 alone, Druid will tour to Australia, Canada, the UK, and the U.S. presenting 364 performances in 26 venues. Since 1979, the company has had its own theater on Druid Lane in Galway, the birthplace of its entire repertory and a facility for the promotion and development of the arts in Galway.
Druid has always worked to reinvigorate perceptions of classic dramatic works while engaging with new dramatic works that are challenging, innovative, and daring. In one of Druid’s most ambitious and successful productions, DruidSynge, Garry Hynes staged the complete works of John Millington Synge. DruidSynge was described by the Irish Times as “one of the greatest achievements in the history of Irish theater,” and the production made its American premiere in Minneapolis as part of the opening of the Guthrie Theater in 2006. Other recent work includes The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh, The New Electric Ballroom by Enda Walsh (Edinburgh Fringe First Winner 2008), The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh (Edinburgh Fringe First Winner 2007), and Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill. Earlier acclaimed productions include three works by John B. Keane—Sive (2002), Sharon’s Grave (2003), and The Year of the Hiker (2006)—and Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1996).
Through its writing program, Druid nurtures and supports new playwrights and commissions, develops, and produces new plays by a wide range of emerging and established writers both from Ireland and abroad.
Tickets to The Walworth Farce are: Wednesday–Thursday and weekend matinees, $34 ($28 Walker members); Friday–Saturday evenings: $42 ($35) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600. The McGuire Theater’s new Balcony Bar will be open at 7:15 pm and after the performance.
In Conversation: Joe Dowling and Enda Walsh
Sunday, October 25, 12 noon
$10 ($8 Walker members)
Join playwright Enda Walsh and Guthrie Theater artistic director Joe Dowling for a conversation about The Walworth Farce and the state of theater and performance in Ireland and beyond. Copresented with the Guthrie Theater.
This lecture is made possible by generous support from Aaron and Carol Mack.