Dreams and Despair: The Secret Heart of the Homeless… And a visit with George Bernard Shaw

The prizewinning play “Those Sick and Indigent” heralds St. Patrick’s Day on Readers Theatre Repertory’s stage on March 9-10, in a production themed A DARK NIGHT IN DUBLIN. Written by Alan O’Regan and directed by Mary McDonald-Lewis, the play was winner of the 2010 “Best New Script” competition and a runner up in the “From Page to Stage” festival, earning praise from Irish critics and lit bloggers alike.

The cast includes Randy Patterson, Chris Porter, and Tom Witherspoon.

A short Chautauqua will begin the evening, with a visit from George Bernard Shaw sharing his thoughts on “theatre.” McDonald-Lewis is delighted to have Mr. Shaw appearing. “The Chautauqua movement of the 19th and 20th centuries sought to bring culture to the far regions of the United States, and George thought Portland could use some,” she says with a smile.

To the play, “O’Regan opens his play with a quote from George Eliot that talks about the ‘number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.’ That’s what grabbed me about this story,” says McDonald-Lewis. “The riches that each of us, beggar and king, carry inside us.” The director continues a tradition of stories shared with a Dublin stage as well. “This play was staged at Bewley’s Café Theatre in Dublin, a company whose plays we produce often – and always love,” she says.

“Those Sick and Indigent” takes place in a Dublin homeless shelter, where an earnest employee and two residents take stock of a dead man’s belongings… and his life.

RTR has staged Irish works every March since 2001, and has always celebrated with the live music of Brongaene Griffin on fiddle. “Bron is a cherished part of our St. Paddy’s month – her fiddling sweeps the audience across the water to those rainy Dublin streets,” says McDonald-Lewis. “We’re honored that we’re a part of her St. Paddy’s tradition too!”

More on the music of Griffin can be found at www.brongaenegriffin.com.

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