BY SEÁN P. FEENY
FOLLOWING the popular success of its last in-house production, Fiesta at the Earagail Arts Festival, An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, is pleased to present its next production which began a nation-wide tour in Belfast at the weekend.
Written by Pat McCabe, Frank Pig Says Hello is the stage adaptation of his acclaimed novel The Butcher Boy. Challenging but rewarding, humorous yet harrowing, Frank Pig Says Hello is at times breath taking, often haunting and always hugely entertaining.
Directed by David Grant, who has a long-standing relationship with An Grianán, the play stars St Johnston native Patrick McBrearty and fellow Central School of Drama graduate Stefan Dunbar from Enniskillen in their professional stage debuts.
Patrick is a well-known face on the North West theatre scene and it is particularly fitting that he makes his professional debut with An Grianán and alongside his old London house mate Stefan who is the son of well-known Irish actor Adrian Dunbar.
The tour opened at the Brian Friel Theatre at Queen’s University Belfast at the weekend and will be touring in Monaghan, Fermanagh, Longford, Armagh, Louth, Roscommon, Leitrim, and of course two dates at home in Letterkenny.
David Grant is an old friend of An Grianán having directed the theatre’s productions of The O’Neill (2007) and A Midsummer Night’s dream (2008), which both featured Patrick McBrearty early on his amateur career as an actor.
He said: “Frank Pig Says Hello has a significant place in Irish theatre history as the first of a series of important (and hugely successful) plays in the 1990s in which two actors take on a multiplicity of roles, requiring them to combine an extraordinary level of technical virtuosity with the capacity to sustain numerous parallel psychological journeys for each of the characters they portray.
“Despite their enormous international popularity, cynics at the time attributed the appeal of these small-cast plays to the economic turndown of the period.
“As boom has yet again given way to bust it is perhaps not surprising that they should be attracting renewed interest, but the true secret of their success is the exceptional way in which they engage the imaginations of their audiences. This is why, even now, so many people have reported retaining such vivid memories of them.”
David said it is particularly exciting to be taking the show on a tour that weaves across the border, underlining the way in which a play that celebrates humanity in all its different forms emphasises the common experiences that unite not just people in the two parts of Ireland but throughout the world.
He said: “The nature of Francie’s condition is never spelt out, but as mental health seeks to shake off the stigma that has so long attached to it, we can perhaps respond today to his story with an open-mindedness that would have been much harder to bring to the play in 1993. Performing at Monaghan’s Garage Theatre, in its anniversary year carries special significance, given the central role of the original Garage in the play.
“But this is a play, while rooted in Monaghan has proven its ability to engage audiences wherever they may be. Thank you for supporting tonight’s performance.
“I have every confidence that in twenty years’ time that you will look back on the achievement of these two early career professionals with the same visceral clarity that those of us who saw the premier production still retain.”
An Grianán Director Patricia McBride said: “Frank Pig Says Hello is a poignant and provocative journey into the heart and mind of Francie Brady, a young man who is driven beyond the boundaries of his mental and emotional health.
“A black comedy featuring an inventive fusion of storytelling and role play where over 30 characters are played by two versatile actors in a highly theatrical experience.”
Pat McCabe’s Frank Pig Says Hello will be staged at An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, on Saturday, September 20 and Saturday, October 4, at 8pm respectively.
For booking enquiries call An Grianán Box Office Tel 0749120777 or log onto www.angrianan.com