Michael D for arts centre’s 21st birthday

Michael D for arts centre’s 21st birthday

President Michael D Higgins will attend Mullingar Arts Centre when it celebrates 21 years since it opened with the world stage première of The Valley Of The Squinting Windows, by Brinsley MacNamara, adapted and directed by Michael Scott.

The production opens on November 19 following two previews, and plays at the centre for a week, including two matinees.

With 10 professional actors and a company of community players, it uses modern technologies to drag MacNamara’s book into the 21st century.

McNamara, in his depiction of a small Irish village, joins Synge and O’Casey, who were despised for their depiction of west of Ireland people and the “Dublin working class”.

Michael Scott said: “When bringing this book to the stage, it’s also important to remember its controversial history, and to lay those particular ghosts to rest” while creating a great evening of theatre that can pull you to the edge of your seat.”

In his introduction McNamara said that “the events of the book were typical of any small village in Ireland”.

The chairman of the Mullingar Arts Centre Board of Directors, John McGrath, has expressed delight and excitement at this endeavour: “Mullingar Arts Centre is very proud to be hosting the first stage adaptation and world première of the iconic book,” he said.

A special gala evening on November 19 will be attended by President Michael D Higgins, who opened Mullingar Arts Centre 21 years ago as Minister for Culture at the time.

Brinsley MacNamara, whose real name was John Weldon, was born near Delvin, in 1890. His father was the local school teacher. He joined the Abbey Theatre Company in 1909 and toured with it in the United States. In 1912 he decided to devote his time to writing and The Valley of the Squinting Windows, published in 1918, established him as a leading Irish writer, though it raised a storm of violent protest.

He went on to write six novels, two books of short stories and many plays for the Abbey, of which he was, for a time, a director. He died in February 1963.

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