QU to bring ‘Western World’ to Long Wharf

Bethany Dionne

Next week, the Quinnipiac University theatre program will take the main stage in a production of “Playboy of the Western World” by Irish playwright John Millington Synge at Long Warf Theatre in New Haven.

The play is an Irish comedy written in 1907 and takes place in the early 20th century. It is about a community that has to respond to a stranger, Christy Mahon, who comes to town claiming he murdered his father. The community is shocked and is not sure how to handle the situation, and if they should take caution with this strange man. Peegan, who is engaged to be married, is introduced to Christy by her father for protection. As the play unfolds, Christy becomes a mythical hero and Peegan begins to fall in love with him. The play ends in violence when people find out Christy was lying and did not kill his father, when his father comes to town with head wounds in search of Christy.

“This was one of the first plays performed at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre,” Crystal Brian, Quinnipiac University theatre director, said. “When it was originally performed, the audiences rioted, and they play closed because they were incensed at Synge’s unflattering portrayal of the Irish peasantry.”

Brian was hired as an associate professor of the theatre program five years ago. She teaches classes, as well as directing and producing performances at QU. She was formally an associate professor and director at Whittier College in Los Angeles, Calif. and also directed theatre professionally in Los Angeles.

This is the second production at QU inspired by Ireland because of the strong ties our school has there, including the campus in Ireland and the art and literature resources we have in the library. Last spring, the theatre program produced “The Troubles of Romeo and Juliet,” which was inspired by Ireland. Last year, Quinnipiac hosted Gerry Adams and Betty Williams, two guests from Ireland.

“Meeting these two major figures of Northern Ireland was an amazing experience for students working on an adaptation of Shakespeare set in Northern Ireland,” Brian said.

Students involved in the “Playboy” production will be traveling to Ireland this spring for a research project to create a new script to workshop at Long Warf in May. They are hoping to learn about productions through observation and possibly through the aide of Betty Williams. Students will be partners with the Albert Schweitzer Institute and continue work they started on “The Antigone Project” to continue the growth of the Quinnipiac theatre program.

To purchase tickets, or for more information on “The Playboy of the Western World,” being staged at the Long Wharf Theater, contact Dr. Crystal Brian at [email protected]