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Princeton Weekly Bulletin   October 9, 2006, Vol. 96, No. 5   prev   next   current

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Nassau notes

Actors, scholars, playwrights here for Irish theater symposium

Princeton NJ — Distinguished Irish actors, theater directors and other luminaries well known for their award-winning roles on stage and screen will gather at the University Oct. 13-15 for discussions, readings and performances highlighting the “Players & Painted Stage” symposium.

Web site

Among the many features of the event, Irish actor Stephen Rea, popularly known for his Oscar-nominated performance in the movie “The Crying Game,” will join Ireland’s leading cultural critic Luke Gibbons in a conversation about theater’s role in art and politics, and Irish director Garry Hynes, the first woman to win a Tony Award for theater direction, will give a separate talk sharing her experiences. Running concurrent with the symposium will be the performance of playwright Brian Friel’s “Translations” at the McCarter Theatre Center.

The symposium is free and open to the public and is being held to celebrate the donation of an expansive collection of Irish theater announced by the University in August. Class of 1953 alumnus Leonard L. Milberg donated to Princeton more than 1,000 plays, photographs, playbills and other works documenting the history of Irish theater dating back 160 years. The symposium will reflect on the long theatrical legacy.

“Irish drama is marked by the peaks and the valleys of its remarkable theatrical landscape, and what better way to reflect that than with an investigation of the full range of dramatic work produced by Irish playwrights over the last 100-plus years?” said Michael Cadden, the director of the Program in Theater and Dance and one of the principal organizers of the symposium.

The weekend of events will begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, with a keynote address delivered by Joe Dowling, former director of Ireland’s national theater, the Abbey Theatre, and current artistic director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. In a conversation at the Stewart Film Theater at 185 Nassau St., Dowling will discuss his coming of age in Irish theater and the differences between Irish and American theater practices.

The exhibition showcasing the Leonard L. Milberg Irish Theater Collection will then have its official opening at 6 p.m. Friday in Firestone Library, featuring the gem of the collection, the unpublished manuscript “The Cooing of Doves” by renowned playwright Sean O’Casey.

Most events will take place on Saturday, Oct. 14, including a discussion with Hynes, the artistic director of Galway’s Druid Theatre. She will talk about her work on a range of Irish plays, as well as her direction of McCarter Theatre’s production of “Translations,” which will have its opening Oct. 13.

Emily Mann, McCarter’s artistic director, will join Hynes and Fiach Mac Conghail, the current director of the Abbey Theatre, in the Saturday discussion. Mann and Hynes will also give a special post-performance discussion after a Sunday matinee of “Translations.” Ticket purchases through the McCarter box office are necessary for the general public to attend all performances of “Translations,” which will run through Oct. 29.

A full schedule for the symposium is available online at Other symposium highlights include the conversation “Theater at the Crossroad of Art and Politics” with actor Rea and theater critic Gibbons; renowned Irish actress Fiona Shaw, of “Harry Potter” fame, reading from the work of Irish playwright Marina Carr; a reading of O’Casey’s long-lost “The Cooing of Doves” directed by Princeton Lecturer in Theater and Dance Timothy Vasen; and a roundtable discussion in which Rea, Gibbons, Hynes and Shaw will join Irish playwrights Mark O’Rowe and Vincent Woods to discuss the history of Irish theater.

Cadden will moderate the roundtable with Pulitzer Prize-winning professor Paul Muldoon, the Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities and founding chair of the University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. The Milberg collection of Irish theater being celebrated by the symposium was donated to the University in Muldoon’s honor.

The symposium is being presented in cooperation with the Program in Theater and Dance, the Friends of the Princeton University Library, the library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, the Fund for Irish Studies, the Council of the Humanities and the McCarter Theatre Center.

For more information, visit the “Players & Painted Stage” Web site at, or call the library at 258-3242.

More Nassau notes …


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