In an effort worthy of their mighty subject, the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York will stage a month-long festival of all 26 plays written by William Butler Yeats, the world’s most revered Irish poet.
The Rep’s Yeats Project will begin previews on Wednesday, April 8. The first production will open on Wednesday, April 15.
The Rep will stage all 26 plays in association with NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House, the American Irish Historical Society and the W.B. Yeats Society of New York. Eight of the plays will receive fully mounted productions on the main stage of the theater, while the remaining 18 plays will receive staged readings in the downstairs Studio Theatre.
“It’s an epic undertaking,” director Ciaran O’Reilly tells IrishCentral.com. “When the Abbey Theatre in Dublin produced all of Yeats’ plays recently they had funding from Coca-Cola. We’re doing this with far less funding but as a labor of love because we admire the plays and the poet, and we know there’s a huge audience here for his work.”
The fully mounted plays on the main stage will be "The Countess Cathleen," "The Cat and the Moon," "On Baile’s Strand," "The Land of Heart’s Desire," "The Pot of Broth," "Purgatory," "A Full Moon In March" and the famous Irish Nationalist favorite "Cathleen Ni Houlihan."
The remaining 18 plays will receive staged readings in the Studio Theater at the Rep. Included are some of Yeats’ most admired works, including "At the Hawk’s Well," "Calvary," "Deirdre," "The Hour Glass," "The King’s Threshold," "Oedipus Rex," "The Resurrection," "The Shadowy Waters," "The Words Upon the Window Pane," "The Green Helmet," "The Only Jealousy of Emer," "The Unicorn from the Stars," "The Player Queen," "The Dreaming of the Bones" and "The Death of Cuchulain."
It’s impossible not to admire Irish Rep founders Charlotte Moore and O’Reilly’s artistic nerve. In the middle of the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Irish Rep has decided to stage some of the most beautiful but rarely produced Irish plays ever written.
Other scheduled events include five special poetry evenings featuring distinguished guests, and a literary evening featuring Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank McCourt, Colum McCann and special musical guests. Actors Marian Seldes and Brian F. O’Byrne will also host an open microphone night where the general public will be invited to take to the stage to perform a favorite Yeats poem.
In association with the Yeats Project, Glucksman Ireland House will present a panel of distinguished Yeats scholars. Professor John Kelly of St. John’s College, the premiere college of Oxford University, and Professor Ronald Schuchard of Emory Univer-sity will discuss their collaboration on the most recent volume of "The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats: Volume IV." This volume, covering the crucial years in Yeats’ artistic development between 1905-1907, is the fourth of a projected 15 volumes.
Festival passes are priced at $100 for all 19 individual events, the price of a single Broadway show. Single tickets to the Cycle A and Cycle B performances are $65 and $55. Single tickets to all other events held at the Irish Rep are $20.
Performances on the main stage are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinees are scheduled for Wednesday, Saturday, and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling 212-727-2737.