Translations>Production Info
Theatre Banshee produced Translations by Brian Friel August-September of 1996 at the Gene Bua Acting for Life Theatre in Burbank, California.


Cast (in order of appearance)
Sarah Beth Kennedy
Manus Pascal Marcotte
Jimmy Jack John Valentine
Maire Leslie Baldwin
Doalty Dan Harper
Bridget Redetha Rampenthal
Hugh Barry Lynch
Owen Eric Drachman
Captain Lancey Joel Tatom
Lt. Yolland David Nevell
Production Staff
Director Sean Branney
Producers Leslie Baldwin & Sean Branney
Stage Manager Steven E. Einspahr
Scenic Designer Sibyl Wickersheimer
Lighting Design Jason Janicki
Costume Designer Laura Brody
Sound Designer Erik Hockman
Lighting Assistant Myron Mandybur
British Dialect Coach Pamela Mant
Irish Dialect Coach Denise Ryan Sherman

Brian Friel (Playwright)

Brian Friel, a catholic teacher´s son, was born in Omagh, County Tyrone (Northern Ireland) in 1929. He received his college education in Derry, Maynooth and Belfast and taught at various schools in and around Derry from 1950 to 1960.

Known today for his extraordinary achievements as playwright and director, Friel began writing short stories for The New Yorker in 1959 and subsequently published two collections: The Saucer of Larks and The Gold in the Sea. His first radio plays were produced by the BBC, Belfast, in 1958; his first play This Doubtful Paradise--premiered in 1959, The Enemy Within (1962) gained him recognition in Ireland. Philadelphia, Here I Come! (1964), The Loves of Cass McGuire (1966), and Lovers (1967) were highly successful in Ireland as well as in the United States. Dancing at Lughnasa (1990), probably his most successful play so far, premiered at the Abbey Theatre, transferred to London´s West End and went on to Broadway, where it won three Tony Awards in 1992, including Best Play. Most of Friel´s plays have been performed extensively in Dublin at the Abbey, Gate and Olympia theatres, in many West End theatres in London and on Broadway, while always addressing specifically Irish themes.

Brian Friel was awarded an honorary doctorate by Rosary College, Chicago, Ill. in 1974; in 1989, BBC Radio devoted a six-play season to his work, the first living playwright to be so distinguished. He co-founded Field Theatre Company in Derry, where Translations (1980), The Communication Cord (1982) and Making History (1988) premiered.

Mr. Friel currently lives in County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. (click for source)

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Production Notes by Sean Branney 12/8/01

I'm a big fan of Brian Friel's works. I've enjoyed performing in them as an actor and seeing them as a member of the audience. But in tackling Friel's work as a director, I gained a whole new understanding and respect for the unique qualities of Friel's writing. It is difficult material.

The nature of the dramatic conflict, particularly in Translations is amazingly subtle. Characters' lives and indeed their whole worlds crumble about them, yet if you're not paying attention, you'll miss the moment. The key moments of the plot, sometimes happen completely offstage and our experience of it comes through the rippling effect those moments have on the lives of characters in the play. Translations is on one level a who-dunnit, where Friel never tells us with any certainty who did it. Yet on a metaphoric level, it's painfully clear which nation is the criminal and which is the victim. And best of all, the play rises above the brutal specifics of that conflict to show us how humanity's cultures, in a constant ebb and flow across the earth, live in a perpetual cycle of conquest and conquered.
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Program (click here to download program as PDF file)

We created Theatre Banshee to provide a loud, clear voice in these times of social stagnation. Our mission is far-reaching: to revitalize American culture and the art form of theatre in particular by offering the public live entertainment which is challenging, engaging and affordable. As the digital age expands, it has become increasingly difficult to find quality live entertainment which is immediate and thought-provoking. We plan to accomplish this goal by producing a season which features classical and contemporary plays as well as new and experimental works by emerging authors. To reach as broad an audience as possible, we plan to present our plays to the public in traditional theatre venues and take theatre to audiences via an Outreach Program. The Outreach Program allows us to bring Theatre Banshee's works to children, the elderly, the disabled and other groups who are often denied the experience of live theatre.

Translations takes place in Ballybeg (an Irish-Gaelic speaking community), County Donegal, Ireland, 1833.

There will be one ten minute intermission.

Director's Notes
And a brief history of the Anglo-Irish conflict

"A translation is no translation, he said, unless it will give you the music of a poem along with the words of it."
John Millington Synge, The Aran Islands (1907)

The history of Ireland, like the history of most nations, is a story of conquest and its ultimate success or failure. The Celts, the Romans, the Christian missionaries, the Vikings, the Normans and the British, each came in succession, waging a conquest upon the island. Each wave of imperialism achieved either repulsion, domination or assimilation into the culture of Ireland. Only the final wave, the incursion of England, failed to ultimately achieve resolution: despite 400 years of warfare, pain and strife with Ireland, Britain has neither forfeited its conquest, won total domination, nor genuinely assimilated its culture with the Irish.

The cultural difference between the two islands is massive, despite their proximity. And a long and violent history between the two cultures has done much to entrench each's determination not to yield to the other. The modern era of the conflict began with Henry VIII's creation of the Church of England and his proclaiming himself King of Ireland in 1541. In the 1600s, the English government began to populate Ireland by creating plantations for Protestant Scottish settlers on confiscated land in the North of Ireland. Later that century, led by the brutal Oliver Cromwell, England won a series of military victories in Ireland, culminating with the Battle of the Boyne in which Catholic King James II (of Ireland) was defeated by Protestant leader William of Orange. The military defeat essentially stripped the Irish of any genuine political power and paved the way for centuries of abuse.

In order to subjugate the conquered people, Britain enacted a series of laws known as the Penal Code which among other things: prohibited Catholics from ownership of property, worship in a Catholic church, the right to vote, and outlawed education, Irish music and the Irish language. With raw determination, however, the Irish fought to maintain their cultural identity separate and apart from that of the British. School was taught in "hedge schools", secret classes, literally held in hedgerows, where a local scholar would teach the Irish population, providing a thorough education including schooling in Greek and Latin. Similarly, mass was held in secret, often outdoors. Even Irish dance adapted to the law by creating a style of dance in which the upper body is so still, soldiers glancing through a window might not be able to tell that the people were dancing.

The resistance to the British also manifested itself in less subtle ways. In 1798 the United Irishmen aided by French troops, mounted an ill-fated rebellion which saw more than 30,000 Irish casualties that summer. The Penal Code was lifted by the early 1800, but the Catholics remained oppressed as tenant farmers, paying rent to work what was once their own land.

And, it is at this juncture in time, 1833, that Translations takes place. Friel gives us a community set on the brink of massive change in its way of life. The stage is set for the events which will follow: a potato famine which will cut the population of Ireland in half (1845-49); another failed uprising (1867); and the war of independence which culminated in Ireland being divided in two, British Northern Ireland and the independent Republic of Ireland (1916-1921); and an ongoing battle about the political identity of Northern Ireland (1969-present).

Much of a culture's identity is borne from its language. While political on the exterior, Irish conflict is about a clash of cultures. The Irish language is one of the oldest languages which is still in use in the world; it has been in continuous use more than twice as long as English. Although it was almost completely supplanted by English in the early 20th century, Irish has made a considerable rebound, and is now taught in public schools in Ireland and private schools in Northern Ireland. On the other hand, due to the global influence of the communication media, English is slowly becoming the de facto language of the world.

Cultural imperialism is a deeply ingrained in mankind. People bring their language and customs with them as they move across the planet. Societies influence, absorb and dominate other societies, sometimes peacefully, sometimes not. Old cultures are lost and new ones emerge from the fusion of different peoples. Like the extinction of species, it is tragic to see cultures and languages die, yet like the extinction of the dinosaurs, it is the natural way of things. And after all, who can judge whether our current name "L.A." is a better appellation for this city than the Spanish missionaries' "La Ciudad de la Reina de Los Angeles del Pueblo del Rio Porincúla". Even before the Spaniards came, this place already had a name given to it by the indigenous people, a name now lost in the wake of expanding cultures.

Friel beautifully captures the mystique and the danger inherent between people who do not share a common language. A translator forms a fragile bridge, allowing each side to see into the world of the other. But a translation cannot substitute for assimilation, or a genuine and non-conditional acceptance of another culture. A translation is an imperfect art which rarely can do justice to both sides at once. Beyond the intermediary translator, there is a delicate balance to be found between maintaining the integrity of one's own people, traditions and language and respecting the traditions and languages of others.

For Sean, Ciaran, Patsy and Geraldine who live with the burden of history and the hope for peace.

"The hedge schools were clearly of peasant institution. They were maintained by the people who wanted their children educated; and they were taught by men who came from the people."
J.P. Dowling, The Hedge Schools of Ireland.

"Even in the wildest districts, it is not unusal to meet with good classical scholars; and there are several young moutaineers of the writer's acquaintance, whose knowledge and taste in the Latin poets, might put to the blush many who have all the advantages of established schools and regular instruction."
Alexander Ross, Rector, Dungiven, County Kerry, 1814

"The hedge schools were the most vital force in popular education in Ireland during the eighteenth century. They emerged in the ninteenth century more vigorous still, outnumbering all other schools, and so profoundly national as to hasten the introduction of a State system of education in 1831."
J.P. Dowling, The Hedge Schools of Ireland

"The poorest and humblest of the schools gave instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic; Latin, Greek, Mathematics and other subjects were taught in a great number of schools; and in many cases the work was entirely done through the medium of the Irish language."
J.P. Dowling, The Hedge Schools of Ireland.

"The only place for giving instruction was a barn. The barn was a loft over a cow shed and stable... It was one of the largest barns in the parish."
Autobiography of William Carleton, 1794

"The hedge schools owed their origin to the supression of all the ordinary legitimate means of education, first during the Cromwellian regime and then under the Penal Code introduced in the reign of William III and operating from that time til within less than twenty years of the opening of the nineteenth century."
J.P. Dowling, The Hedge Schools of Ireland.

Chi Mi na Morbheanna
kee mee na-MOR-ven-ah

This traditional song, sung in Irish, is played at the beginning of the performance. The song was a favorite of John F. Kennedy, and was played at his funeral.

Oh, I see, I see the great mountains
Oh, I see, I see the lofty mountains
Oh, I see, I see the corries
I see the peaks beneath the mist

I see, straight away, the place of my birth
I will be welcomed in a language which I understand
I will receive hospitality and love when I reach there
That I would not trade for a ton of gold

I see woods there, I see thickets there
I see fair, fertile fields there
I see the deer on the ground of the corries
Shrouded in a garment of mist

High mountains with lovely slopes
Folk there who are always kind
Light is my step when I go bounding to see them
And I will willingly remain there for a long while

Theatre Banshee would like to recognize the generosity of the patrons whose donations helped make A Man For All Seasons possible:

Sharon & Ken Baldwin
Joe & Sheryl Branney
Lee & Anne Gillespie
Nick & Lorie Gonia
Rebecca & Pascal Marcotte
MaryAnne Parsons
Lucy & Dan Reimann

Special Thanks
Suzie, Sharon & Ken Baldwin
Jake Elmstrom
Entertainment Lighting Services
Le Conte Junior High School
Andrew H. Leman
Gloria Mercado
G. Stephanie Morey
Matt Reynoso
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