Just in time for St. Patrick's Day 2013, RCP's Irish Players present: Is Life Worth Living?, a comical exaggeration by Lennox Robinson; directed by Jean Gordon Ryon. The production will run March 15-30, 2013 at MuCCC Theater, 142 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester NY.
The script for the original play, written in 1933, contains the following story description by the playwright, which can hardly be improved upon (edited slightly to avoid a spoiler alert!):
"Inish is a small seaside town in Ireland, of not much importance save for the three summer months, when it is a point of attraction for people seeking sea breezes and a holiday. Usually the Summer theatrical season at Inish has consisted of rude, low comedy, but this year John Twohig, the innkeeper and the pavilion proprietor, has imported a troupe of earnest Thespians. Hector De La Mare and Constance Constantia, who head the troupe, mean to shake Inish out of its local complacence by acting dramas that anatomize the soul of man. They succeed fearfully.
"Inish abandons the jig for the dances of death. Simple folk who have been normal for years begin to develop hidden sorrows or wild passions; they throw themselves with despair into the sea, hurl lamps at their wives and buy poison to murder their relatives. The climax comes when the local member of Dail Eireann, the Irish Parliament, a politician normally lacking any imagination, is temped to vote against the government as a result of what he has learned from Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People". With Inish going violently to pieces all about him, John Twohig must make a momentous decision: how to make everyone feel jolly again?"
The Irish Players program of the Rochester Community Players may feel the sting of Lennox' satire a little more closely than most. For the past several years, we have been the producers of "serious" Irish theater, from Waiting for Godot (2004) to last year's Eugene O'Neill masterpiece, A Moon for the Misbegotten (see "About The Irish Players", below). So, in some ways, in a play about the baleful effect of all-too-serious drama, the joke's on us!
Is Life Worth Living? has undergone a modern revival, with a 2009 New York City production and a 2012 production in Austin. For more about the play itself, and these recent productions, see the online link resource links below.
The cast: A Rochester all-star line-up has been cast in this production. Greg Ludek and Kathy Dauer (pictured above) play the leaders of the visiting dramatic troupe, Hector De La Mare and Constance Constantia. Greg is one of the leading community theater actors in Rochester, both with our program (he was the lead in both Waiting for Godot and A Moon for the Misbegotten) as well as with Blackfriars, Downstairs Cabaret, Irondequoit Theatre Guild, JCC Center Stage, Off Monroe Players, Penfield Players, RAPA, Rochester Children's Theatre, Shipping Dock, TYKEs, the Webster Theatre Guild and others. Kathy has appeared repeatedly in our Irish Players productions, from Da, the production we took to Montreal in 2000, to A Moon for the Misbegotten, which we staged in Dublin last year. Other veteran Rochester actors in the cast include Morey Fazzi, Stephanie Siuda, Marty Brancato, Kathy Rivers, Kate Sherman, Ken Dauer, and Andy Cowen. The full cast list is below.
About The Irish Players: Created as a program of the Rochester Community Players in 1997, The Irish Players stage one production of Irish or Irish-American Playwrights each Spring. Past productions have included, among others, Playboy of the Western World, Da, Juno & the Paycock, Translations, The Kings Of the Kilburn High Road, Dancing at Lugnasa, Faith Healer, The Hostage, and The Cripple of Inishmaan.
About the Acting Irish International Theater Festival: Our production of Is Life Worth Living? will be staged at the 2013 Acting Irish InterNational Theatre Festival (AIITF), to be held at Gaelic Park, Chicago, May 21-25. Eight theater groups from the United States, Canada and Ireland will present full-length productions at this year's festival (see AIITF link below.) Our production will be staged Thursday evening, May 23 at 8:00 PM. Our Irish Players productions have participated in the AIITF since 2003, and have won top awards three times. We have staged the best of Rochester theater in Dublin, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Milwaukee, Chicago, and South Florida. We hosted the AIITF here in Rochester in 2008.