Monday, January 07, 2008

The Hairy Ape: Classism in O'Neill

Last night's showing at the O'Neill Festival was "The Hairy Ape" which was produced off-Broadway last season by the Irish Repertory Theatre. It was fitting that founding producer
Ciarán O’Reilly and Gregory Derelian, who played the protagonist Yank, were the speakers for the after-screening event.
Ciarán O’Reilly looks on as Gregory Derelian reads O'Neill
Photo credit: Patricia Jameson-Sammartano

The setting of the play is a steamer on the Atlantic and a New York City apartment; the play was originally produced at the Provincetown Playhouse on March 9, 1922.

We asked Mr. O'Reilly how he managed the stage set, in view of the fact that the movie was so cinematic, and he said they used a hydraulic drop. Checking the awards page, the scenery at the Irish Rep was done by Eugene Lee, who was inducted into the theatre hall of fame and later designed the elaborate sets for "The Pirate Queen."

It was interesting hearing details of the highly-acclaimed production, and even more so to hear Mr. Derelian read from the script. He made the character of Yank come alive through his voice and body language even though he was not costumed.

The festival continues the sea plays tonight with a screening of "The Long Voyage Home."

Patricia Jameson-Sammartano
Culture Editor, WGT


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