By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
And since this actor-playwright-director probably disagrees with me, it's all the more disappointing that he didn't take me to task via David Cooper, the Deadline! drama critic. I deserve a public spanking, Kurt. When writing about Pegasus Theatre in the past, I've been a very naughty boy.
Deadline! runs through March 6. Call (214) 821-6005.
Daniel Baker may have a trace of a Texas-Oklahoma accent--he grew up among the Choctaw in Southeast Oklahoma--but he is, by his own admission, a "cultural amadan" (that's "fool" in old Irish) when it comes to Irish culture. Baker is the cultural coordinator for the North Texas Irish Festival, and although he's responsible for the whole shebang of storytellers, dancers, musicians, and actors for that Fair Park throwdown, he's especially excited about importing theater artist Macdara Mac Uibh Aille (pronounced mac-dara mac-oov-allya) from Northern Ireland.
Mac Uibh Aille, a 26-year-old actor-playwright-director, is currently in Norman, Oklahoma, working on a theater piece with Choctaw storyteller Tim Tingle about parallels between the Irish famine and the Trail of Tears. Mac Uibh Aille, whose family is famous in Ireland for its generations of performers, will come to Dallas for both the North Texas Irish Festival and two nights of one-acts--In the Shadow of the Glen and The Voice of the Sea--at the Bath House Cultural Center.
"We're trying to get Macdara a card so he can come back and forth whenever he wants," Daniel Baker says. "He's won awards at European festivals, but he really wants to produce and direct theater here in the U.S. The SMU students he's directing in In the Shadow of the Glen say they've never worked with someone more energetic and intense. Macdara, in turn, said what a good-looking group of kids they were. 'Their teeth! Their teeth!' he kept saying. The tea in Ireland is very, very strong, so everyone has different-colored teeth there."
Mac Uibh Aille directs SMU drama students Bonnie Cochrane, Seth Magill, Shawn Pfautch, and Brian Townes in J.M. Synge's 1902 In the Shadow of the Glen, a highly controversial proto-feminist play about a young woman, her much older husband, and the roguish traveler who comes between them. Synge's most famous play remains The Playboy of the Western World, which caused riots and physical attacks on the actors in early-20th-century Dublin when audiences and fellow artists, inflamed by Irish nationalist passions, became incensed at the play's depiction of Irish patricide. Years before, Synge stirred milder controversy with In the Shadow of the Glen, which caused leading actress and Irish nationalist theater cofounder Maude Gonne (the unrequited love of another co-founder, W.B. Yeats) to resign in protest.
"A lot of people consider this play a forerunner to Waiting for Godot because it's pseudo-naturalistic," Daniel Baker notes. "Irish people got angry in the same way Southerners became angry at Tobacco Road, because they thought it portrayed them as crumbs and rubes. They said that it was depicting the wrong values. Synge complained that it was a true story told to him by a seanchai (traditional storyteller), but you could tell he'd overlaid the Greek comedy of Ephesus. In the Shadow of the Glen is a farce, a dramatic comedy. It's really about a woman bucking tradition. You could set this story in China or Mexico or India or any Third World country with a strong religious tradition."
The Voice of the Sea, meanwhile, is a 2-year-old script written by Mac Uibh Aille while on a plane to Dallas. He will also be performing this one-man show at the Bath House Cultural Center and the North Texas Irish Festival. It's a time-shifting tale of Celtic folklore and modern upheaval.
"The story concerns the residents of a small Irish island being relocated inland because their property has rich oil and mineral deposits, sort of like the Sayles film The Secret of Roan Inish," Baker notes. "As they load their belongings onto a ship, an Irish storyteller launches into these island legends. Macdara alternates that with radio reports on the progress of the residents toward the land. He plays multiple characters, including a very fetching maiden. I'm told the men will want to jump on the stage when he becomes her."
In the Shadow of the Glen and The Voice of the Sea are performed March 3 and 4. Call (214) 670-8749.