After launching the Teresa Deevy Project with WIFE TO JAMES WHELAN in 2010, the Mint continued its exploration of “one of the most undeservedly neglected and significant playwrights of the 20th century” (The Irish Times) with a production of TEMPORAL POWERS.

Teresa Deevy’s explosive love story won first-prize in the new play competition held in 1932 by Ireland’s world-famous Abbey Theatre. It was produced to great acclaim that year and hailed by theGuardian as “amongst the best that the Abbey Theatre has ever staged.” The critics were unanimous in their enthusiastic praise and confidently expected that TEMPORAL POWERS would be seen regularly in the years to come. “There seems little doubt that TEMPORAL POWERS will figure often in the Abbey Repertory,” predicted the Stage.

Instead, TEMPORAL POWERS was revived once in 1937, and then almost vanished forever until the Mint finally introduced this “unfailingly perceptive, poetic, and moving”1 play to American audiences in 2011. Almost 80 years after its world premiere, critical praise remained unanimous and the production was hailed “a rich and richly troubling portrait of a marriage, and a community, struggling in the vast, disaster-pocked no-man’s-land between comforting moral absolutes and total exigency.”2

Teresa Deevy was born in 1894, the youngest of thirteen children.  Intent on a teaching career, Teresa enrolled in the University College, Dublin in 1913.  After about a year she began to feel ill; her ears rang and she suffered frequent bouts of vertigo.  She was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, an incurable condition caused by fluid imbalance in the inner ear.  Within a few years, Deevy had completely lost her hearing.

Teresa went to London to learn lip reading and there she discovered theatre. She studied the plays in advance and sat in the front row night after night, entranced by what she saw.  Teresa had found her calling.  Oblivious to all obstacles, she decided to become a playwright.

Fifteen years later at the age of 36, after numerous rejections, the Abbey Theater produced Deevy’s play Reapers.  While the play was not a success, one of Ireland’s leading critics predicted: “The new dramatist from whom most may be expected in the future is Miss T. Deevy.”[1]  Deevy went on to have five more plays produced at the Abbey over the next six years.  In 1936 her play Katie Roche was hailed a masterpiece and selected for publication in an anthology of Famous Plays of the year.  A London production followed in ‘38, Macmillan published three of her plays in’39.  Teresa Deevy had become “the most important dramatist writing for the Irish theatre since 1930.[2]

Then the tide turned.  Deevy’s next play, Wife To James Whelan was rejected by the Abbey’s new management, breaking Teresa’s heart and ending her career as an Abbey playwright.  Undaunted, Deevy turned her attention to writing for the radio where she enjoyed some success, but by the time of her death, in 1963, she had been virtually forgotten.

Not anymore…

[1] Andrew E. Malone: The Dublin Magazine, 1930

[2] Lenox Robinson, The Dublin Magazine, 1940

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CAST

  • Min Donovan Rosie Benton
  • Michael Donovan Aidan Redmond
  • Moses Barron Eli James
  • Lizzie Brennan Wrenn Schmidt
  • Daisy Barron Fiana Toibin
  • Maggie Cooney Bairbre Dowling
  • Ned Cooney Con Horgan
  • Jim Slattery Paul Carlin
  • Father O’Brien Robertson Carricat

CREATIVES

  • Set Design Vicki R. Davis
  • Costume Design Andrea Varga
  • Lighting Design Jeff Nellis
  • Sound Design Jane Shaw
  • Properties Design Joshua Yocom
  • Dialects and additional Dramaturgy Amy Stoller
  • Casting Stuart Howard, Amy Schecter & Paul Hardt
  • Production Stage Manager Lisa McGinn
  • Assistant Stage Manager Andrea Jo Martin / Lauren McArthur
  • Assistant to the Director Natalie Schwien
  • Press Representative David Gersten & Associates
  • Advertising & Marketing The Pekoe Group
  • Illustration Stefano Imbert
  • Graphic Design Hey Jude Design, Inc

DR. JOHN P HARRINGTON, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: FROM PRIZEWINNER TO OUTCAST: TERESA DEEVY AND THE ABBEY THEATER

Harrington is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Fordham University; he has written extensively on Irish literature and culture, including The Irish Beckett (1991), The Irish Play on the New York Stage (1997), and The Life of the Neighborhood Playhouse on Grand Street (2007).  He edited W. W. Norton’s anthology Modern and Contemporary Irish Drama (1991; new edition 2008) and Irish Theater in America (2009).

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DR. MAUREEN MURPHY, HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY

A past president of the American Conference for Irish Studies and a past chair of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures, Murphy is one of the six senior editors of the “Dictionary of Irish Biography.”

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JACQUI DEEVY

Jacqui’s grandfather was Teresa’s brother; Jacqui grew up in “Landscape,” the Deevy family home, where Teresa was born and raised.  For this special occasion, Jacqui discusses Teresa and shares her impressions of the play.

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REV. THOMAS M. MCCOOG, S.J.

Deevy’s play is concerned with the conflict between Temporal Power, the authority of the state, and Spiritual Power—the authority of the church.  In this discussion, Father McCoog explores these issues.  He divides his time between the Jesuit Historical Institute in Rome and London where he is archivist of the British Province of the Society of Jesus; he was the Loyola Chair at Fordham University in 2009.

DR. MICHAEL CADDEN, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

Cadden is currently Director of the Program in Theater and Dance at Princeton University, where he has been teaching for 25 years, including classes in Irish Drama.  In 1993, Michael was awarded the University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.  He began his career at the Yale School of Drama.

DR. CHRISTOPHER MORASH, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, MAYNOOTH: IRELAND IN RUINS: THE WORLDS OF TERESA DEEVY'S TEMPORAL POWERS

Professor Christopher Morash returns to the Mint for his third consecutive year, having previously conducted talks after performances of Is Life Worth Living? in 2009 and Wife to James Whelan in 2010.

Teresa Deevy’s 1932 play, Temporal Powers is set in “an old ruin.”   This may seem like an odd setting for a play; and yet, ruins have figured prominently in images of Ireland going back to the eighteenth century.  This discussion looks at what it means to set a play amidst ruins, using the set as a way of situating Deevy in a theatrical tradition that looks back to Boucicault on one hand, and ahead to Beckett on the other.  Morash considers whether this play – situated in the rubble of one economic collapse – has anything to say to Ireland in its present condition.

DR. CHRISTOPHER MORASH, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, MAYNOOTH: "A PEASANT PLAY WITH A DIFFERENCE": TERESA DEEVY'S TEMPORAL POWERS AND THE ABBEY THEATRE

When Teresa Deevy’s Temporal Powers was first performed at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre in December of 1932, the Irish Independent hailed it as “a peasant play with a difference.”   It is not surprising that an Irish reviewer in 1932 would have seen the play in those terms, for the international reputation of the Abbey at that point rested largely on plays dealing with Irish peasants.   The major playwrights of the early years of the Abbey – W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and J.M. Synge – all wrote plays featuring Irish peasant characters, and by the late 1920s the genre of the Irish peasant comedy was well established.   Morash looks briefly at this tradition as well as the ways in which Temporal Powers both is, and is not, an Irish peasant play – and what that might mean for us watching the play today.

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