We've Always been

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Sidebar

19
Tue, Mar

Tools
Typography

Lured: the curse of swans

April 11 thru 13 at 8pm. in the Mullady Theatre at Loyola Lake Shore Campus

Over the past year I have been working on a new play.  My interest has always been with the re-telling of myths.  Initially, I began with the 14th Century Mystery plays.  These plays were not medieval whodunnits in which you guess who the killer is but rather religious plays that were used to teach the illiterate masses.  If you can imagine life before the printing press when most people could not read or write, then you have some idea of why these plays were performed.  The church (Catholic Church) needed some way to educate their congregations on the mysteries of their faith.  

Playwrights were enlisted to write dramas based on biblical stories.  These early dramas later gave way to the morality plays.  Dramas of these sort, the most famous being Everyman, were used to show people how to live a good, moral life.  So, while these works are heavily didactic, they can also be very entertaining.   Their popularity continues and you can still find them performed somewhere in England.  

My own attraction to this genre lies in their love of metaphysical to explain human problems and not with their emphasis on religious instruction.  Plays of this sort should make us think about the human condition.  Reflection on our mortality, the possible existence of an afterlife, and the meaning of life can produce an existential crisis, especially for those of us are not sure of anything.  For the modern person, the idea of a secure belief system appears erroneous and relies on too much wishful thinking that couches itself in the concept of faith.  A person who feels their ‘faith’ is under attacks resorts to ‘I believe it, therefore its true’ as if that is defense enough against their attacker.  I am more comfortable with ‘I am not sure.  I would like it to be true, but I can never be completely confident it really is’. 

My own take on creating contemporary versions of these classics was to reinterpret them in a modern context.  My death and resurrection of Christ happens in Derry in 1998 during the Good Friday Agreement, the Herod play takes place in a bar in New York, while Cain and Abel story is re-told as part of a drag act.  As you can tell, I like to add my own quirky spin to the stories.  I have enjoyed my foray into the distant past as a way of exploring the present but, as of yet, I have not touched Irish myths.

Those familiar with W.B Yeats will know how much of his work was influenced by his love of Irish myths and legends.  He and Lady Gregory took to advocating Irish writers explore and renew these stories in a modern context in the late 19th Century.  While I might be a bit late to the game, I was particularly interested in the story of Lir and his swan children.  There are a few versions of the same story around, so my summary may not fit the one you are acquainted with.

 In this tale, the fusion of druidism and Christianity is beautifully interwoven and syncretized.  Beginning in ancient times, the idyllic lives of a king, a queen, and their four children are devastated when the queen unexpectedly dies.  Distraught and forlorn, the king marries, Aoife, his wife’s sister.  

Aoife soon becomes jealous of the king’s affection for his children and conjures up a spell that changes the king’s offspring into swans.  For the next 900 years, the children of Lir are condemned live out their lives as swans.  Since retain their human, they are able to relay their plight to the king who quickly sentences Aoife to exile.  Unable to break the spell, the king continues to devote the rest of his days to listening to his children sing.   It is during this first stage of their enchantment that their father dies.

After three hundred years of making the best of a bad lot, the children of Lir must spend the next three hundred years in turmoil.  Far from their home, bereft of their father’s protection, the storms raged against them, as they experience times of isolation from each other.  The hardship of their spellbound existence bears its toll.  The pathos of the story climaxes during the third stage of the spell when they must move to another part of the island of Ireland.  On hearing the ringing of a bell, a Christian bell, they journey towards the unusual sound.  A Christian man offers them sanctuary and cares for them until a greedy king, desirous of their ability to sing and speak, tries to take them by force.  His plan, to abduct the children of Lir fails, when a mist from the lake transforms the swans back to human form.  Aging rapidly, the children, once duly christened, die in the faith, and their tale becomes legend.

My play is loosely set on the Lir myth but set in present-day Chicago.  Three women, a mother and two daughters, are about to embark on visit to Ireland.  The proposed visit coincides with the tenth anniversary of the father/husband’s suicide.  All three women have had a decade to interrogate the circumstances of their tragic loss.  Each of them has grown apart, allowing misperceptions of the tragedy to isolate them from each other.  

On stage, they occupy three individual spaces.  As much as they try to keep a distance, to avoid the painful reality of the suicide, they cannot remain apart.  The impending trip, poses itself as a time for unveiling the truth and breaking the spell of silence.  While the family struggles to be close, there is also a desire to remain separated.  The human condition is contradictory.  

The play attempts to present the urban experience of loneliness and isolation.  Psychological ties to perpetuating the lies they tell themselves binds each character to a psychological vortex that threatens to drag them under.  The illusion of self-sufficiency, independence etc. is dispelled throughout the duration of the play when the presence of the bizarre, in this case a mentally unstable man dressed up as Jesus, is introduced.  The enchantment breaks when characters experience the presence of something greater; a mystery couched in grotesque form.  

The title of the play, Lured: the curse of swans, is a play on the way Lir is pronounced, especially if, like me, you are Northern Irish.  The hard ‘r’ sound makes Lir sound like lure, which I like since the play itself explores the idea of appearances and how we seem to be one thing but really something else. 

March IAN Digitally Linked

February 2019 Digital Edition

Brexit Video

Rachel Gaffeny's Real Ireland EP 1

Waterford's Mount Sion Choir "Shallow"

Advertising Rates 2019

Irish Ann

Shop Irish!

ARTIST
Liam Goarke
ASSISTED LIVING
Homecare Angels

ATTORNEY
Joyce Stevens
Murphy & Smith Ltd
Dwyer and Coogan
Healy Law

BAGPIPERS & DRUM CLASSES

Chicalba Bagpiping

BAKERY
Doughs Guys Bakery
BANKS

Marquette National Bank
BANQUETS
Gaelic Park
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
BEAUTY SALONS
Appearances Pk Ridge
 847-825-7615
Hair by O'Hara & Friends-Hometown
BOOKS - IRISH
TheIrishBookClub.com
BRICK REPAIR/REPLACEMENT
Shamrock Tuckpointing

CATERERS
Harrington's Catering & Deli
Unforgettable Edibles
CHARITABLE ORG

Mercy Home
IrishCommunityServicest
CAULKING & SEALING
Shamrock Tuckpointing
CHIMNEY REPAIR

Shamrock Tuckpointing

CHOIR
Irish Heritage Singers
COTTAGE RENTAL
Cottage Mary Rose
Dingle Cottage: 312-399-8793
Gurtenard Hse - Listowel Co Kerry
CRUISES

Andy Cooney
CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS

Chicago Gaelic Park

iBAM!
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
Irish Am Society Co Will
Irish Heritage Singers
DANCE SCHOOLS

McNulty School of Dance
Trinity Irish Dance
ENTERTAINERS

Chicalba Bagpiping

Paddy Homan
The Larkin Brothers
Catherine O'Connell
Joe McShane
FESTIVALS

Arlington Heights
Dublin

IAHC
Indianapolis
Kansas City
Milwaukee
FINANCIAL PLANNER

Corrigan Financial
FLORIST

Garland Flowers
FUNERAL HOMES

Blake-Lamb

Gibbon's Funeral Homes
Roberty J Sheehy & Sons

GAELIC YOUTH FOOTBALL
773-719-2847 Jerry
GARBAGE REMOVAL
Flood Brothers Disposal
GOLF COURSES
Palos Golf
GRAPHIC DESIGN

Laura Coyle 773-343-7268
GROCERIES/MEAT

O'Connor's Market

Winston's
HEARING SPECIALIST
Mel Dermody
HOTELS

The Irish Cottage 1 866 CU-IRISH
HUMAN RESOURCE CONSULTANT
James Fitzgerald
IMMIGRATION SERVICES

IrishCommunityServices
IMPORT SHOPS
Ann's Irish Gifts

Celtica Gifts 773-784-7712
Donegal Imports
Gaelic Imports
Irish Shop
INSURANCE

American Family-Joan McKee
Riordan Insurance
JEWELERS

H. Watson
MORTGAGE LENDING
Linda DeRoeck

MUSIC SCHOOLS
Chgo Academy of Piping/Drumming
Irish Music School of Chgo
MYSTERY SHOPPER
Cathy Cooney-Millar 224-944-9654

PARTY PLANNERS
That Special Event

PENNY WHISTLES
Michael Burke
PHOTOGRAPH CAPTURING
Memoirs for Me
PHYSICAL THERAPY
SPORTS-ORTHOPEDIC
Athletex
PLASTERING

William McNulty & Son
708-386-2951
PUB/RESTAURANT RECRUITER
Cathy Cooney-Millar
PUBS & RESTAURANTS

Ashford House
The Celtic Knot
Clancy's Pizza Pub
Corcorans
Emerald Loop
Fifth Province
Fiddler's Hearth
The Galway Arms
James Joyce Irish Pub
Lizzie McNeill's
Mickey Finn's Brewery
Nine Irish Brothers
Peggy Kinnanes
R
ed Apple Buffet
Six Penny Bit
Vaughan's Pub

REALTORS

Koenig & Strey
Mary Ellen Considine  773-769-2500
RESTAURANT/HOSPITALITY RECRUITER
Cathy Cooney-Millar 224-944-9654
SPORTS CLUBS

Chgo Celtic Soccer Club
stbrigids.chicago.gaa.ie
ST PATRICK'S DAY
St Patrick's Day Parade
SWEATERS

Anne's Irish Knits
TABLE RUNNERS
All 32 Counties
TELEVISION-CABLE

Irish Journal 708-366-4665
THEATRE
Late Nite Catechism
Tony & Tina's Wedding
TOURIST ATTRACTION
Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
TRAVEL /TOURS
BestIrishTours.com
Gadabout Travel
TUCKPOINTING
Shamrock Tuckpointing
VACATION RENTALS
Dingle Cottage
Cork - Cottage from $450 weekly
Don at 608-274-1180
WASTE REMOVAL
Flood Brothers Disposal
WEDDING PLANNER
That Special Event

WEDDING VENUES
Gaelic Park
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
Palos Country Club
WOOD FLOOR SPECIALIST
The Sexton Group

Advertisers

Paying For
Instructions

Who's Online

We have 131 guests and no members online