Druid will celebrate its 35th birthday this year and the internationally acclaimed Galway theatre company is set to mark the occasion in some considerable style with premiere productions and major international tours.
On Tuesday Druid unveiled its 2010/2011 programme at its theatre on Druid Lane and it will see the company undertake 239 performances in 26 theatres in five countries.
Despite all the international acclaim the company has enjoyed over recent years, Druid has never forgotten its Galway roots.
The company was founded in Galway city in 1975 and to mark its 35th birthday, the company will stage a major celebration, entitled From Galway To Broadway and Back Again in the Town Hall Theatre on May 21 and 22.
Some of Ireland’s leading actors, including Marie Mullen, Cillian Murphy, Sean McGinley, Denis Conway, Derbhle Crotty, and Eamon Morrissey, will recreate moments from a selection of Druid’s most memorable productions, including The Playboy of the Western World, Bailegangaire, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and The Walworth Farce.
Druid is inviting the public to cast their vote for their favourite show with the most popular choice forming part of the programme for the evening. Proceeds will go towards Druid’s Education Outreach initiative (The Silver Tassie ) and its ongoing New Writing programme.
For the Galway Arts Festival, Druid will stage the premiere of Enda Walsh’s new play Penelope. It will open on July 13 in the Druid Lane Theatre. The play will be directed by Mikel Murfi and star Denis Conway, Tadhg Murphy, and Karl Shiels.
Walsh’s new play is an original interpretation of the story of Penelope and her suitors from Homer’s Odyssey. This is a dark and funny story of just how far men will go to win over a woman’s heart when their ultimate salvation is at stake.
After its arts festival run, Penelope will tour in Ireland and Britain (including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival ), before Druid make their debut on the continent with a show in Helsinki for Finland’s Stage Festival. It will then return to Ireland for a run in Dublin in September.
Druid will also stage the Sean O’Casey classic The Silver Tassie in the Town Hall Theatre on August 28. It will be directed by Garry Hynes and after its Galway run it will tour Ireland and Britain.
This is Garry’s first production of an O’Casey play for Druid, having previously directed Brendan Gleeson in The Plough and The Stars for the Abbey (1991 ), and Michael Gambon in Juno and the Paycock for Noel Pearson’s production at the Gaiety Theatre (1999 ).
After this Druid will take on a major challenge - a record breaking five-month USA and Irish tour of the multi-award winning Druid and Atlantic Theatre co-production of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple Of Inishmaan.
Running from January to June 2011, this will be Druid’s longest run of a production on tour in the company’s history, taking in 14 theatres in 21 weeks. It is also the biggest US tour undertaken by an Irish company since the 1930s.
Druid will stage The Cripple Of Inishmaan in the Kennedy Centre, Washington DC; the Shakespeare Theatre in Chicago; a four week Los Angeles run at the Centre Theatre Group; as well as shows in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Ann Arbor in Michigan.
Speaking at the programme launch, the new Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport Mary Hanafin said: “Druid is a force of nature. Since 1975 it has been in the vanguard of all that is great about Irish Theatre. Internationally, it is the totem by which standards of stagecraft are set. Its 2010/2011 programme, while demanding, is well within the compass of a company for whom the world is now its stage.”
Artistic Director Garry Hynes said the company’s motto for 2010 is ‘No retreat’.
“This is a difficult year for all of us in Irish theatre where many of our colleagues in other organisations are facing significant cuts with subsequent loss of creativity and employment,” she said. “It is important that those of who have suffered lesser cuts keep faith us with the whole principle of Government funding of the arts, through The Arts Council and Culture Ireland, by presenting as ambitious a programme as possible to as wide an audience as possible.”