Students Take to the Stage at Druid

Nov 16 2011 Posted: 12:49 GMT

From 24-26 of November, NUI Galway’s Dramsoc are performing Tom Murphy's The Morning After Optimism in the Druid Lane Theatre. The performance is being facilitated as part of the NUI Galway partnership with Druid Theatre Co.

Three of four members of the cast are currently studying on the BA CONNECT Theatre & Performance programme at NUI Galway, while the production team includes engineering, maths, creative writing and Irish language students.

Darren Coppinger, an engineering PhD student in NUI Galway, directs the production. He says: “The producer and I discovered this play about two years ago, in the Abbey Theatre bookshop. It jumped out at me immediately and I wanted to put it on. The play had its first run last year, in the Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUI Galway. Thereafter, we felt the play had a huge amount to offer and we are lucky enough to be able to stage it in Druid – home of Tom Murphy - for a second run this year.”

He continues, “It’s a play about James and Rosie – the pimp and the whore. In the course of the play, they discover their better selves, as well as idealized lovers in Edmund and Anastasia, a prince and a maiden. It’s a play of opposites: on one side you have the sinners and on the other, the saints. Murphy places them in a surreal forest, as a means of exploring these contrasts and assessing whether they can survive in the one space. In the play, James, the pimp talks about his indoctrination in the form and the language of fairytale.

To me, the play is a dialogue about false hopes. It looks at the demise of our childhood illusions, which tend to inhibit us from dealing with harsh reality. The work has universal appeal and although first performed in 1971, it feels contemporary. The concept of fairytales of the past clashing with the cold reality of modernity corresponds, I think to conflicting feelings about where we are as a society. Like James and Rosie, we are asked to confront our illusions and decide where we want to go next.”

The play is heavily influenced by on the music of Berlioz (Symphonie Fantastique). It deploys dashes of colour, unusual props, expressive gesture and movement to create its own unique world. Unlike most of Murphy’s works, The Morning After Optimism uses little Irish dialect. He concocts a new vernacular of storybook clichés, rediscovered vocabulary, proverbs, manic imagery and phrases from songs. Thomas Kilroy wrote of it that it ‘exists between the rabid, spilling language of the streets and the language of fairytale. Great lunatic monologues in which these two realities clash and mix and outrage one another’.

This production is the second occasion on which NUI Galway Dramsoc has performed in Druid Lane Theatre. Last year, the society hosted the Irish Student Drama Association (ISDA) Festival, and used the theatre as one of its main venues. The Festival itself went on to win the prestigious title of ‘Event of the Year’ in NUI Galway, winning Dramsoc the title of ‘Society of the Year’ at the NUI Galway Society Awards.

Darren continues: “The University and Druid formalized their relationship by means of an academic partnership last year. This production, we hope will be the first of many Dramsoc plays to be performed in this iconic theatre. The society is one of the largest on campus, and produces more than 25 productions annually. It is great to see Druid supporting Dramsoc and NUI Galway – already, students are benefitting from the relationship and long may it continue.”

The NUI Galway Dramsoc’s production of the play, The Morning After Optimism, by Tom Murphy runs in Druid Lane Theatre from November 24-26. Shows start at 8pm, and tickets are €5/€8, from the Socs Box in Áras na Mac Léinn. Reservations can also be made by emailing or phoning 086 1632868.



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