JANUARY 12th: THE FERRYMAN

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This post is about the MWC’s annual family and friends theater outing which is usually in January, not quite midway in our membership year.  This year, Meg F. has secured tickets (yes, early!) to THE FERRYMAN, the about-to-open in NYC Jez Butterworth play which just won a slew of Olivier Awards for the original production in London.  This year’s Saturday matinee outing is slated for SATURDAY, JANUARY 12th.  This is likely to be a very, very hot production and Meg was able to secure tickets for $140. each.  Members, please contact her directly via email ( meg.florio@gmail.com ) to make arrangements to get yours!

THE FERRYMAN is the eagerly awaited next play by Jez Butterworth, author of the much lauded JERUSALEM which introduced Mark Rylance to much of the US in 2009.  THE FERRYMAN is no less lauded and won Olivier Awards this past year for Best Drama, Best Director (Sam Mendes), Best Playwright (Butterworth) and Best Actor (Paddy Considine).  It’s London run was extended and sold out twice.

The subject of this play is “The Troubles” –  that ill-defined period from the late 1960’s to Good Friday in 1998 which focused on, very broadly, the constitutional status of Northern Ireland as the Protestant majority region still part of the UK at the northernmost tip of the island nation.  Variously referred to as a guerrilla war, a civil war, the “fight for Irish independence” or a religious or ethnic conflict – it spilled over, violently, into rest of Ireland as well as England and other parts of Europe.  The conflict had a far-reaching impact on diplomatic relations between the US and the UK as our country’s huge voting bloc of Irish-Americans are mostly of Catholic descent and had strong feelings about The Troubles – as well as, it is said, provided a substantial amount of the funding for the Irish Republican Army.  More than 3500 people were killed during this period – most of them civilians.

So, there couldn’t be a richer base for a dramatic work, no?  THE FERRYMAN is set on a country farm in Northern Ireland.  There is a daily intersection between the simple, ritual-laden life and seasonal activities on the farm with the political issues and events happening around it.  Paddy Considine plays the father of a huge brood and is a reformed IRA activitist who fights to maintain and protect his family as The Troubles in various forms intervene. Of course, as this is Ireland, there are plenty of secrets and unspoken passions and loyalties which  propel the drama.

Who is the ferryman?  The Ferryman is a mythological figure who collects a “ferry” from those crossing the River Styx – the boundary between life and death.  Those unable to pay the ferry are destined to an afterlife of tumult, wandering and unrest; they will be ghosts.  It is a tradition in Irish funerals, to put a coin either in the mouth or on the eyes of the deceased in order to pay the ferryman.  The relationship of the ferryman to Butterworth’s work is to examine the border between living and not living where one lies indefinitely in wait for life to go forward without being held back by either personal or political circumstances.  

THE FERRYMAN is likely to be one of this year’s major events – and the MWC is fortunate that Meg was able to secure tickets for it.  Contact her – NOW – for your tickets. 

 

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