WCSU to stage ‘Two Nights Near Doolin’ at Ives Concert Park
Performance is part of the Newtown Savings Bank Fine Arts & Family series
DANBURY, CONN. — An assignment to find an Irish story to air as a movie of the week ultimately led to the creation of an original play to be staged this month at Ives Concert Park on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University.
Louisa Burns-Bisogno, a professor in the WCSU Department of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process, explained how “Two Nights Near Doolin” came to be.
“In the early 1980s, I was given an assignment by my producer to find an Irish story for American television,” she said. “It was the height of ‘The Troubles’ — the bloody civil war in the North. I witnessed several tragic events, and many innocents were caught in the crossfire. This folded into a story that I heard while a graduate student at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1990 about an American who went in search of his family history.
“The play’s setting came about in the mid-’90s when I was invited to read my paper at the First International Conference on the Irish Diaspora at the University of Cork,” Burns-Bisogno explained. “While there, I attended my own ‘Clancy Clan’s annual meeting.’ On my way from that event to Cork, I stopped by a little village called Doolin. Located near the famous Cliffs of Moher, Doolin was the center of Irish traditional music and is now a major tourist site. Back then however, musicians would just come down from the hills and ‘jam.’ It was a fabulous experience and I have been there several times.”
The resulting play, “Two Nights Near Doolin,” will be staged at Ives Concert Park, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 11 – 13, 2014. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, plus ticketing fees, and are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/two-nights-near-doolin-tickets-7184995515. A ticket four-pack is available for $40, plus fees. Before the curtain rises on each 8 p.m. performance, there will be traditional Irish dance and music for 30 minutes to fully transport the audience to a pub near Doolin.
WCSU Professor of Theatre Arts Pam McDaniel, who will direct “Doolin,” brings her own Irish travels to the staging of Burns-Bisogno’s play. McDaniel spent 10 days there last summer conducting research that she believes will add to the authenticity of the performances.
“I went to Ireland on a research grant to attend the Galway Arts Festival and also to spend time in and near Doolin to see the people and places the play is about,” McDaniel said. “I interviewed people in pubs about the local tradition of passing musical skills down from one generation to the next, and I heard traditional musicians play. I met families who had operated pubs for six generations and found a prototype for the pub that is the setting for our play.”
McDaniel shot a multitude of photos of the scenery found on the west coast of Ireland, including the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Dingle Bay and the Ring of Kerry, which was the terrain Burns-Bisogno had in mind when she wrote the play. McDaniel also brought back images of the inside of the pubs she visited to offer the university’s set designers a wealth of information as they endeavored to create an authentic backdrop.
An early version of the play was first read at the Irish Repertory Theater in New York, staged at the Sherman Playhouse and at the Irish Arts Forum. McDaniel said a reading of an expanded version of the play by Irish actors at the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences “validated the accurate depiction of the culture” found in Burns-Bisogno’s script. The show ran at WCSU’s Berkshire Theatre to rave reviews last October.
For tickets or information, visit www.ivesconcertpark.com or go to www.eventbrite.com/e/two-nights-near-doolin-tickets-7184995515.
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.