WALT WHITMAN – I HEAR AMERICA SINGING

Walt Whitman – probably America’s greatest poet

Walt Whitman

I Hear America Singing

BY WALT WHITMAN

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

THE WATERFORD COLLECTION REVIEW

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THE MUNSTER EXPRESS 24th June 2014

 

ARTS & THEATRE COLUMN

 

 

COLLECTION OF PLAYS REVIEW Tom O’Brien

 

The Co Waterford-born playwright and novelist, Tom O’Brien has just had another successful three week run with another new play, No Blacks, No Dogs, No Poles, in London’s Pentameters Theatre. The play despite its provocative title with echoes of a time when ‘No Irish’ might have given it a London context, but this play is set in an Irish town. I was not able to attend its premiere, but Alan Cliff the (up to last year) Waterford-based playwright went along and gave me his considered opinion. Alan is studying theatre in Manchester.

He described the play as complex in structure with at least four aspects overlapping; the return of a son-in-law, who has married an Aboriginal Australian and this brings out themes of racism and bigotry; a revelation of another characters bi-sexuality; the introduction of drugs into the family via a hostage situation; the revelation of an illicit family member’s affair. The London reviews suggested some confusion with themes of racism, immigration, identity and a longing for the past, spiced with sexual repression.

To coincide with this production O’Brien has brought out a collection of three plays, all with Waterford connections, with the title, The Waterford Collection, and its three plays show the detail and proven ability of the author to forge a career for himself. I still find it hard to understand why no Irish or indeed no Waterford theatre group have as yet staged one of his plays. Stagemad Theatre Company were to do so, but it never came to rehearsal stage.

The cover is impressive with three pictures of the new bridge. The first play Queenie is a 5-hander and tells a poignant story of Victoria Dwan who has been institutionalised, and is now being ‘released’ back into the community. This features open-air stage dancing at Granagh Cross, as she wheels around an indigent accordion player in a pram. This seems so surreal and Beckettian, with a wild theatricality. Queenie is a troubled soul who has second-sight. The play is beautifully ‘threaded’ with music and songs.

The second play, Money From America, is a much darker play about two brothers and a farm. Lardy has spent a lifetime toiling on the Co Waterford farm for little reward, and his older brother Jack returns from America and sees the farm as his rightful inheritance. This conflict involves two female partners, who would not be out of place in a McDonagh play, and it has a dark and dangerous resolution.

The third play, Johnjo, is a one-hander, a monologue set in the late seventies, and is a study of Johnjo McGrath from cradle to grave, from the Comeragh’s to wartime England and the dark underbelly of the construction industry. This is a harsh unrelenting play, but it held my attention all the way, and it is filled with songs and music that is as nostalgic as it is ironic.

Such was the success of the recent Pentameters production that they will present another Tom O’Brien play in London in July, about the women in Brendan Behan’s life, and still no Waterford production.    Liam Murphy

available @  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tom-OBrien/e/B0034OIGOQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1388083522&sr=1-2-ent

 

 

 

 

THE WATERFORD COLLECTION – 3 plays

QUEENIE…MONEY FROM AMERICA…JOHNJO

All three plays are set in rural Waterford, in the shadows of the Comeragh Mountains.

QUEENIE is a woman who has spent much of her adult life in a mental institution and has now been released into the community. She possesses second-sight, frightening psychic powere, which in the past  had seen many in the locality label her a witch.

MONEY FROM AMERICA tells the tale of two brothers and a farm. Lardy has spent all his life eking out an existence in the family hill-farm; now his brother Jack is back from America to claim his rightful inheritance, which he plans to sell.

JOHNJO is the story of a man on the run from rural Ireland and his attempt to survive amongst the chaos of war-torn England. How long can he remain in the shadows?

see my amazon page for purchasing a copy and to read an extract; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tom-OBrien/e/B0034OIGOQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1388083522&sr=1-2-ent

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