Riders to the Sea
by John Millington Synge
in order of appearance
Cathleen Rachel Baker
Nora Rowan Cunningham
Maurya Maura Byrne
Bartley Mike Folan
Mourning Women Corinna Christman, Nora Davis, Elizabeth Horne, Barbara Jackson, Bobbie Lyons
Mourning Men Andre Hogan, Bill Hohnke, John Roberts, Brian Weaver
Stage Manager & Directors’ Assistant Brenda Bolden
Properties Brenda Bolden
Sound design Joe Plummer
Set design and construction: Mike Folan, Paul Baker, Rachel Baker
House Manager Brian Weaver
Setting: An island off the West of Ireland
Riders to the Sea
Edmund John Millington Synge was born in County Dublin in 1871. He died of Hodgkins disease in 1909, not yet 38 years old.
In his short life, he co founded the famous Abby Theatre in Dublin, and gained a reputation as one of the foremost English-language playwrights in Ireland. And one of the most controversial. His best known play, The Playboy of the Western World, was met by riots when it first opened in 1907.
Synge wrote Riders to the Sea in 1902 after five years summering in the Aran Islands, soaking up the stories and the speech of the people there. It was first performed in 1904.
In a preface to his work, Synge wrote: All art is collaboration; and there is little doubt that in the happy ages of literature, striking and beautiful phrases were as ready to the story-teller’s or the playwright’s hand, as the rich cloaks and dresses of his time…. This matter, I think, is of importance, for in countries where the imagination of the people, and the language they use, is rich and living, it is possible for a writer to be rich and copious in his words, and at the same time to give the reality, which is the root of all poetry, in a comprehensive and natural form….In a good play, every speech should be as fully flavored as a nut or apple, and such speeches cannot be written by anyone who works among people who have shut their lips on poetry. In Ireland, for a few years more, we have a popular imagination that is fiery and magnificent, and tender; so that those of us who wish to write start with a chance that is not given to writers in places where the springtime of the local life has been forgotten, and the harvest is a memory only, and the straw has been turned into bricks.
We have made no attempt to reproduce the accent of the Aran Islands in our staging of this play. I believe that, in Riders to the Sea, Synge’s language transcends the Irish soil in which it is so firmly rooted and achieves a diction as universal as Shakespeare’s. To speak the music of Synge’s prose, it is no more necessary to adopt an Irish brogue than it is necessary to perform Macbeth with a Scottish accent—or, for that matter, a Jacobean English one.