Brian Friel's Freedom of the City Returns to Irish Rep Jan. 2-20
By Kenneth Jones
Irish Repertory Theatre's fall 2012 production of Brian Friel's The Freedom of the City — the 1974 play about political unrest in Ireland — begins a three-week extension starting Jan. 2 at the company's Off-Broadway mainstage.
A hiatus began Nov. 25. Performances continue to Tuesdays-Sundays through Jan. 20 at Irish Repertory's Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage, 132 W. 22nd Street. Ciarán O'Reilly (IRT's producing director) directs.
The Freedom of the City launched The Irish Repertory Theatre's 25th anniversary season with previews beginning Oct. 3 prior to its official opening Oct. 14. The cast includes Caroline "Cara" Seymour (Present Laughter) as Lily, Joe Sikora (The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, "Boardwalk Empire") as Skinner, James Russell (CTV's "Comedy Inc.") as Michael, Ciarán Byrne, Clark Carmichael, Peter Cormican (The Rivalry), Christa Scott-Reed (The Talls), Craig Wroe and Evan Zes (Man and Superman).
Here's how Irish Rep bills the show: "Set in Derry, Northern Ireland during the aftermath of a civil rights meeting, The Freedom of the City revolves around an inquiry into the shooting by British soldiers of three marchers as they emerged from the Guildhall. As the inquiry continues, with testimony from 'expert' witnesses, the play relives the real events that led to its institution. When the police disrupt the peaceful protest, three unarmed strangers, Lily, a middle-aged mother of 11, and Michael and Skinner, two young men, take refuge from the streets and find themselves inexplicably in the Mayor's Parlor. As the three settle in to the Lord Mayor's opulent office, word spreads about the 'occupation' of the Guildhall. The motley trio is transformed into a band of armed and desperate terrorists, a fiction that is taken up by the church, the media, the army, and nationalist balladeers, all of whom use the myth for their own diverse ends."
In addition to Dancing at Lughnasa and Molly Sweeney, which were both presented in 2011 at Irish Rep, Friel's best-known plays include Translations and the Tony Award-nominated Philadelphia, Here I Come!
Other members of the Freedom of the City creative team include set designer Charlie Corcoran, costume designer David Toser, lighting designer Michael Gottlieb, sound designers Ryan Rumery and M. Florian Staab, wig and hair designer Robert-Charles Vallance, dialect coach Stephen Gabis, production stage manager Pamela Brusoski and assistant stage manager Rebecca C. Monroe.
The Irish Repertory Theatre, founded by O'Reilly and Charlotte Moore in 1988, brings works by Irish and Irish-American masters and contemporary playwrights to American audiences, to provide a context for understanding the contemporary Irish-American experience, and to encourage the development of new works focusing on the Irish and Irish-American experience.
For more information and tickets, call (212) 727-2737 visit IrishRep.org.
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