Juno and the Paycock

written by

Sean O'Casey

directed by

David Freeman and Adrian Waitt

performed at

Merton Hall (this is a guess)

March 1992

Juno and the Paycock Poster

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Programme Notes

some background history

Ireland has a long and troublesome history. For hundreds of years the English controlled and dominated lreland as a colony. Henry I1 claimed supremacy in the 12th century and Henry Vlll reconquered the country and declared himself king. At the start of the 17th century, English authority in lreland was supreme.

The more immediate background to this play however is the events from about 1914. It was probably Parnell, as much as anybody, who led the movement for Home Rule in lreland from about 1875. Several times efforts were made to put a Home Rule Bill through the British Parliament, but it was not until 191 2 that a Bill was actually passed and came into force in 1914. The Act in effect had to be shelved due to the outbreak of the 1914-15 war. During the war, Ireland was neutral and the lrish became impatient for Home Rule. Sir Roger Casement, who had resigned as British Consul, engineered the famous Easter rising in 1916. On Easter Monday a group of Nationalists proclaimed the Republic in Dublin seizing the Post Office in O'Connel Street and hoisting the tricolour. Most of the leaders of that uprising went before a firing squad. The bitterness which was caused by the outcome of the Easter Rising fired the struggle to speed up full Home Rule free from the allegiance to the British Crown.

It was clear that the Home Rule concept of 1914 would not satisfy the Irish. Efforts continued through 1917 and 1918 to find a solution to the lrish problem. In the general election of 1918 the radical Sinn Fein Party ("Ourselves Alone") took almost every seat in Ireland outside Ulster. Having refused to take their seats at Westminster, the Sinn Fein members formed themselves into an lrish Parliament (the Dail Eireann) which declared Ireland's independence as a republic on 21 January 191 9. The army of the Volunteers became the lrish Republican Army (IRA).

Throughout 1920 and 1921 the IRA fought a guerilla war with the British armed police, the Royal lrish Constabulary and in December 1920 the Government of lreland Act was passed replacing the old Home Rule Act of 1914. Under the new Act, lreland became partitioned - the Free State in the South and the six counties of Ulster in the North, each with its own parliament. But the 1920 treaty did not give the South the freedom it sought. The Free State had dominion status within the British Empire and members of the Dail had to take an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. The treaty was eventually ratified by the Dail in January 1922.

The IRA divided over the terms of the Treaty in March 1922. On the one side were the National or Free State troops (the Regulars) broadly supporting the Treaty until something better could be found and against the Treaty were the 'die-hards' or Irregulars (the Republicans) of whom Johnny Boyle in the play was a member.

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The play is set in the second half of 1922 in the midst of the bitter Civil War. Dublin was a city of tenement houses, mostly built in the first half of the 19th century. Many of these large houses contained 7 or 8 families and sometimes as many as 70 - 80 people. The entrances had a common door which was never locked. The passages and stairs were common to all and the general state of the buildings was very poor. It was a grim existence for most of the inhabitants.

Within the tenements there were those who drank too much; those who loved too much and a lot of singing and laughter. But beyond and within the echoes of the merry making and beyond andwithin the light that love gave, there was darkness, sorrow and death. This then was the Ireland of the Dublin tenements; the time of the hateful Civil War when those who had fought together for so long as comrades became bitter enemies and Irishmen tore the heart of Ireland assunder.

As the play opens, Johnny Boyle is crouched before the fire. He is a delicate fellow younger than his sister Mary. There is a tremulous look of indefinite fear in his eyes. He has lost an arm and walks with a slight halt. Mary, a pretty girl of 22, is perched at the table arranging her hair. Two forces are working in her mind - one, through the circumstances of her life, pulling her back; the other, through the influence of books she has read, is pushing her forward. The opposing forces are apparent in her speech and her manners both of which are degraded by her environment and improved by her slight acquaintance with literature.

Mrs Boyle ('Juno') enters from shopping.

She was once an attractive woman, but her face has now taken that look which settles down upon the features of women of the working class: a look of listless monotony and harassed anxiety. Had circumstances been more favourable she should probably have been an active woman, fulfilling her life much more creatively. She is the one who keeps the home together; a heroine whose name will never appear in the papers, never have a memorial, nevertheless one of the greatest heroines known.

After a few minutes "Captain" Boyle makes his imposing entrance. He is older than his wife by some years and always full of himself. But he wishes that the world were full of him too. He walks with a slow consequential start. His 'butty' Joxer is older than the Captain - a cunning, ingratiating fellow. He has the ability to contradict himself within the words of a single sentence!

Here then is 'Juno and the Paycock'- a tale of the Dublin tenements, the time of the troubles, the time of the Civil War in Ireland.

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The Cast

Captain Jack Boyle ~ Ken Cadoo
Juno Boyle ~ Natalie Harris
Johnny Boyle ~ Michael Jeffrey
Mary Boyle ~ Adrienne McSweeney
Joxer Daly ~ Denis Steer
Mrs Maisie Madigan ~ Pat Bryant
Needle Nugent ~ Stephen Rock
Mrs Tancred ~ Margaret Cronin
Jerry Devine ~ Michel de Dadelsen
Charles Bentham ~ John Done
An Irregular Mobiliser ~ David Freeman
An Irregular ~ Tony Strong
Sewing Machine Man / Coal Block Vendor ~ James Grayston
Two Furniture Removal Men ~ James Grayston, Arthur Harman
A Neighbour ~ Penny Stone

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The Crew

Directors ~ David Freeman and Adrian Waitt
Producer ~ Tony Strong
Assistant Producer ~ Elizabeth Eaton
Stage Manager ~ Alan Hale
ASMs ~ Elizabeth Eaton, Louise Pollv
Prompt ~ Val Foskett
Set Design ~ David Freeman, Alan Hale, Philippa Booth
Artwork ~ Philippa Booth
Wardrobe ~ Marjorie Beauchamp, Lynn Mason
Props ~ Joanne Ezzy, Penny Stone, Maria Twolan
Makeup ~ Arthur Harman
Lighting ~ Claire Carroll, Cliff Mason, Graham House
Box Office ~ Carol Melaugh, Pat Bryant
Front of House ~ Eve Manghani, Elizabeth Siese, Julia Griffiths and friends
Bar ~ Julie Patrick, Ian Burfoot
Webpage ~ Matthew Petty

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September 1913

a poem by WB Yeats

Jim Larkin organised the irish Transport and General Workers Union in an effort to improve the conditions of the working class. William Martin Murphy, in opposition to Larkin, organised four hundred employers into a federation, and in August 1913 Larkin's members were locked out. By September twenty-four thousand people were out of work. The conflict lasted eight months. There were massive rallies; baton charges by police; numbers of deaths; riots, arrests, imprisonments; food ships from English sympathisers; and sympathetic strikes. This poem expresses the disillusionment that was generally felt at this time.

What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind.
But little time had they to pray
For when the hangman's rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

Was it to this the wild geese spread
The grey wing up on every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed
For this Edward Fitzgerald died
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone
It's with O'Leary in the grave.

Yet could we turn the years again
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain
You'd cry 'some woman's yellow hair
Has maddened every mother's son':
They weighed so lightly what they gave
But let them be, they're dead and gone
They're with O'Leary in the grave.

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