Off-Broadway's Irish Repertory Theatre has announced its 35th Anniversary season which will be a retrospective of Irish playwright Brian Friel. The Friel Project will feature three of Friel's plays as well as selected concert readings with additional events culminating in an exhibit at the theatre's gallery. The three plays, all set in the fictional town of Ballybeg in Donegal, Ireland, will run October through May of next year.
The season will kick off with Translations directed by Tony winner Doug Hughes (Doubt, A Parable) in October with previews beginning October 20 ahead of an October 29 opening night. It marks Irish Rep's debut mounting of the work which takes place in late August, 1833. A detachment of Royal Engineers from the British Army and Government have arrived in Baile Beag, an Irish-speaking community, to "standardize" Gaelic place names by translating them into English. Investigating the meaning of cultural expression and identity in an Ireland under British rule, Friel explores those questions through the significance of language on scales both large and small. The limited run will play through December 3.
Following in 2024 will be Aristocrats. Charlotte Moore directs the work beginning with previews January 11 and followed by opening night on January 21. Set in Ballybeg Hall, it chronicles the decaying home of District Justice O'Donnell. It follows three sisters and their "eccentric" brother as the family comes together for a wedding—but stays for a funeral. Performances are set through March 3, 2024.
Rounding out the plays will be Philadelphia, Here I Come! with director Ciarán O'Reilly at the helm. Beginning with previews March 14, Philadelphia, Here I Come! will open March 24. A bittersweet comedy, it follows a young man Gar O'Donnell who is immigrating to America in 1962 after his girlfriend leaves him for a successful businessman. With an invitation to live with his aunt in the city of brotherly love, Gar dreams that America will be exactly the escape he needs. But might his father change Gar's mind?
Casts, complete creative teams, and further event details will be announced at later dates.
Born in 1929, Friel wrote over 30 plays across six decades. Considered one of Ireland's greatest playwrights, he was recognized for his talent during his lifetime including with the Ulysses Medal from University College Dublin. Friel passed away in 2015.