Photo by Sarah Nicolazzo

 

2011 AN IRISHMAN AND A JEW GO INTO A PUB

AT THE UNION THEATRE, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE

Director Brenda Addie

Adapted from the Cyclops chapter of Ulysses by

Graeme Anderson, Sian Cartwright, Frances Devlin-Glass, and Roslyn Hames.

Dramatis Personae


Narrator, a tax-collector: Phil Roberts

A Celtic Queen/Narrator: Susannah Frith

The Citizen: Jason Cavanagh

Leopold Bloom, an Irish Jew: David John Watton

Joe Hynes, a bar-fly: Silas James

Alf Bergan, a bar-fly: Jim Wright

The beloved of the Executed Patriot: Sarah Nicolazzo


Lighting Design and Operation: Mark Delaney


Set and Costume Designer, Set Construction: Sarah Nicolazzo

 

Joyce’s Homeric allusion to the one-eyed Cyclops and his monstrous cave are key motifs in this production.  Joyce sets the scene in Barney Kiernan’s pub, which was a real tavern at 8-10 Little Britain St, north of the Liffey, and not far from the Dublin market, the Four Courts, and St. Michan’s Church. It was a ‘themed’ pub: Barney Kiernan collected souvenirs of crime and punishment and refreshed his exhibits continually. So it is an appropriate setting for talk of martyrs and victims, and for prurient drinkers of all kinds, and, in a mock heroic gesture to Homer, for missiles and violence.


The chapter is heavily freighted with Irish history and offers an anti-colonial spin on Ireland’s past.  The Citizen is no slouch as an historian: he knows the heroes and their exploits but Joyce is not above co-opting a few more celebrities to his cause; the Citizen cites chapter and verse on uprisings and their vicissitudes, and on colonial abuses in the far-flung parts of European empires like the Belgian Congo. Indeed, the British Consul and Irish patriot, Roger Casement’s writings on human rights abuses in the Congo rubber trade was news in 1904, the date on which Ulysses is set. Joyce’s mentioning Casement positively in 1922 (the novel’s publication date) was counter-cultural, as he’d been executed for his part in conspiring with the Germans at the time of the Easter Rising, traduced as a homosexual, and, despite his nationalist credentials, was not yet enrolled as one of the nationalist heroes.


Most impressively, the Citizen is full-bottle on the economic history of Ireland and how British protectionism had destroyed a raft of Irish industries. Where Joyce sits in all this, to what extent the Citizen’s actions condemn him, and how far Joyce agreed with his jingoism, and his history, is a matter for intense debate among the scholars.


Translating this chapter into theatre has been a huge challenge. The prose scintillates with upwards of 30 parodies in various styles, many of them archaic Irish styles, which interrupt the narrative in the bar. Some of the finest poetry of the chapter is to be found in them, and they too are learned, rich in both tribute and satire. One cannot engage in parody or pastiche without loving what one imitates. The baroque excursions with which Joyce litters the chapter sometimes comment on the action in the bar, but sometimes not. Sometimes they engage in the politics of mock-heroic, inflating and deflating in turns. The Bloomsday scripters have had to foreshorten most of these, but hope you will enjoy the virtuosity of the fragments that survived.

As always, however dispiriting the scene in the bar is, and it is a crucifixion which Bloom suffers at the hands of anti-semites, Joyce is adept at keeping our hearts up. The production shows the long-suffering Bloom at is morally heroic best, satirises his nasty traducers, and brings to the fore those extravagant parodies, that do so much to breathe fresh life into old traditions.

 
 

WHAT THE CRITICS AND PATRONS
HAD TO SAY

Readers of ‘Ulysses’ readily remember that this episode comprises a kind of parallel text. Realistic accounts of the rantings and ravings of a bunch of boyos at the bar are interleaved with mock-heroic passages in celebration of an older Ireland that may or may not have existed. The ‘Irish Twilight’ digressions were recited by an amazing actor (Susannah Frith) who went through more costume changes than David Bowie in his glam phase, each Magnificent Prose Rendition with a costume befitting the hyperbolic content, each more outrageous than the last.

PHILIP HARVEY

An unsolicited review, published originally on the Bloomsday in Melbourne newsletter (now defunct)

Readers of Ulysses readily remember that this episode comprises a kind of parallel text. Realistic accounts of the rantings and ravings of a bunch of boyos at the bar are interleaved with mock-heroic passages in celebration of an older Ireland that may or may not have existed. The ‘Irish Twilight’ digressions were recited by an amazing actor (Susannah Frith) who went through more costume changes than David Bowie in his glam phase, each Magnificent Prose Rendition with a costume befitting the hyperbolic content, each more outrageous than the last. 

Read More....

JULIETTE HUGHES

 Tintean, the Irish-Australian online magazine

The Cyclops chapter is a gory, rambunctious romp of words that -just like a drunk- threaten, bluster and insult, and then segue into orotund rodomontades of Special pleading and unreliable patriotic histories.

Brenda Addie  and the Bloomsday writers have pulled off an extraordinary achievement...and make them live for an audience

Jason Cavanagh as the Citizen and his dog, Garryowen. 

Read more....


OUR PATRONS

Their unsolicited comments

From Don Sweeney, patron, 23 June 2011

This year's Bloomsday was simply exceptional.  While the  Joycean elements were as enjoyable and challenging as ever, it was clear that the director, the writers and designers and cast had wrought an outstanding spectacle within a very complex framework.  I even had trouble believing that I was viewing the first public performance - the standard of performance, the diction, the caricatures, and the intensity created were testament to the professionalism and skill of the whole team. Simply exceptional. 

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Silas James played Joe Hynes

 

THE BLOOMSDAY SEMINAR

at the Open Theatre, University of Melbourne 

 

SEMINAR TOPIC: 

JOYCE AND NATIONALISM  

 

SEMINARIANS

VAL NOONE

TED REILLY
SEMINAR CHAIR

FRANCES DEVLIN-GLASS

 

Dr. Val Noone:

Irish nationalism in Dublin and Melbourne: Joyce and beyond

This paper tables some documented features of Irish nationalism and republicanism in 1904 for comparison with their fictional treatment in the Cyclops chapter of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. Six aspects will be discussed: Joyce’s joke of having Leopold Bloom suggest to Arthur Griffiths the name Sinn Féin for a new separatist organisation; Joyce’s creation of an anti-Semitic founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association; the 1904 rejection of anti-Semitism by Irish revolutionary Michael Davitt in the Dublin and Melbourne press; vice-regal support for the Redmondite St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Melbourne that year; the extent of working-class support for Gaelic sports in Victoria at the time; and, with reference to a Sydney memorial, also of the time, a word in defence of Robert Emmet and Sarah Curran. A quiz sheet will be offered to participants who wish to test their wits against the level of knowledge of Irish nationalist figures shown by participants in the Melbourne St Patrick’s Day parade in the year of the original Bloomsday.

Dr. Val Noone  is a Fellow in the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne. Formerly editor of Táin magazine of Australian Irish culture, his book on the Irish in Victoria and his life's work as an historian earned him an Honorary Doctorate at the National University of Ireland.


  Dr. Frances Devlin-Glass: Joyce and the ‘Cultic Twalette’: Jocoserious jousts in the nationalist arena in the Cyclops episode of Ulysses.

 
Set in a richly detailed Dublin of 1904, there has never been serious debate about the Irishness of Ulysses, but early critics and commentators, abetted by Joyce, made more of its European intertexts especially Homer, Dante, and closer to Ireland, Shakespeare. Its deep and suppressed debt to the Irish tradition was not fully explored until Maria Tymoczko’s The Irish Ulysses (1994). This paper examines how ancient Irish poetic material is used and strategically coopted for political use in the so-called Cyclops chapter of Ulysses, and demonstrates how Joyce reworked ancient Irish poetry to express a rather more inclusive and celebratory relationship with his cultural heritage than is sometimes recognised by commentators who more commonly insist that his use of ancient Irish material is parodic and satiric.

Associate Professor Frances Devlin-Glass is the founding director of Bloomsday in Melbourne. Until 2008, she lectured in Literary Studies at Deakin University, and currently pursues her research interests in Irish and Australian writers.

And in the Chair

Dr Ted Reilly has had a long association with Bloomsday. He is a Joycean, a poet and an academic and is currently teaching Joyce at Victoria University.

 

Bloomsday in Melbourne © 2019