Druid touches down — a sort of homecoming

The company started in Boston last February when five feet of snow prevented some of the audience from even reaching the theatre. Since then they’ve had temperatures soar to 45 degrees, clocked up 20,000 miles and next week they’re looking forward to returning home with Druid’s production of The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh.

When the cast and crew touch down at the Town Hall Theatre in Galway, and finish the tour on the island of Inis Meáin on June 26, they will have completed a major 21-week Irish and American tour. In fact, by the end of the tour a staggering 100,000 people will have seen the show that started its life in the Druid rehearsal room off Quay Street and premiered in the Town Hall Theatre.

A total of nine cities were visited on the US tour and highlights include stops in Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia and a four week run in Los Angeles. At this stage, the cast’s suntans have caused a unique problem for the production team as they now use stage make-up so they look more like Aran Islanders! Advance sales at the Town Hall Theatre are unusually high compared to the recent trend of last-minute bookers and Druid General Manager, Tim Smith, commented, “It demonstrates Druid’s passionate audience and it’s a great welcome home for all the guys on the tour”.

The Cripple...on Inis Meain

A week this Sunday on June 26, the tour comes to an end on Inis Meáin with two performances in the ‘Halla’. This will be the first time The Cripple of Inishmaan will have been staged on the island and although the visit was mainly intended for residents of the Aran Islands, Druid has been inundated with people willing to travel from all over Ireland and from overseas to experience the show with the locals. In particular the company is very pleased that President McAleese, Patron of Druid, and Senator Martin McAleese accepted the company’s invitation to join the local community to see the show on Inis Meáin. Druid will also welcome Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD, the playwright Martin McDonagh as well as friends and family.

Druid is no stranger to the islands having first visited in 1982 with The Playboy of the Western World. This year’s visit is the eighth to the island and follows on from the staging of the entire DruidSynge cycle in 2005 when Deirdre of the Sorrows was presented outdoors in the Iron Age fort of Dún Chonchúir.

Druid and touring

So what is it about Druid and the ambitious tours and why do they do it? Artistic Director Garry Hynes comments that, “Druid is firmly rooted in Galway – it’s our home, it’s where all our shows are created and premiered. But we have always seen ourselves as a theatre for Ireland and touring the length and breadth of the country is an essential part of our mission”. The philosophy of touring has been at the heart of what Druid does since the very early days when in 1976 the company first toured to Tuam, a year later to Dublin and in 1978 for the first time to the Kingdom of Kerry to perform at Listowel Writer’s Week.

In recent years Druid’s international touring has mushroomed through the support of Culture Ireland, the government agency that promotes Irish arts worldwide. This year alone Druid has toured three shows to the US as part of Culture Ireland’s Imagine Ireland initiative which celebrates the Irish Arts in the US in 2011. Since 2007 Druid has presented five shows in New York and last year completed a world tour that took in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America. But ask Tim Smith what this means and he says “It is amazing to be able to take our work far and wide across the world but it’s even better to come back home”. Galway audiences will have one last chance to catch the show next week and with very few tickets left for the four performances, advance booking is definitely advised!

Druid’s production of The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh, directed by Garry Hynes, returns to the Town Hall Theatre from June 22 – 24. Tickets available on (091 ) 569 777 or online at www.tht.ie Tickets for Inis Meáin are sold out. For more see www.druid.ie



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