The King

Written by Patrick Pearse
Directed by Geoff O'keeffe
Performed in the dlr Mill Theatre, Marlay House and St Enda's Park in March/April 2016

The King poster

This rarely performed play, written by Patrick Pearse, was presented by Balally Players at three venues in the Spring of 2016

Director Geoff O'Keeffe prepared a vibrant, immediate and insightful re-imagining of the play. Fusing choral movement and voice, specially commissioned live music and a large ensemble cast, this was a celebration of the artistic, political and cultural importance of Pearse's work for the theatre.

Written in 1912, for performance by the boys in his school, 'The King' is a conversation about the glory and savagery of war. And while Pearse hints at a yearning for sacrifice for the common good, he presents both sides of a debate. It becomes a medium through which Pearse can examine notions of Irish identity.

In the centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising, the production sought to remember a shared history through the creativity of a community finding new ways of telling old stories.

In a 2013 review of 'Patrick Pearse, Collected Plays / Drámaí an Phiarsaigh', Angela Bourke wrote in the Irish Times about how "opposing attitudes to Pearse remained frozen in place throughout the years of conflict in Northern Ireland, and have persisted, but the centenary of 1916 will offer a very different landscape in which to contemplate his complexities and contradictions".

The play was performed in the dlr Mill Theatre, Dundrum for three nights (30, 31 March & 1 April) and in Marlay House, Rathfarnham from 14 to 16 April. The final performances were in the Pearse Museum, St Enda's Park, Rathfarnham from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 April 2016.

Patrick Pearse
Patrick Pearse 1879-1916

Patrick Pearse was born in Dublin, to an Irish mother and a father, who was a self-educated, free-thinking sculptor from England, specialising in ecclesiastical work. Patrick was an intelligent and diligent student; and he won a scholarship to the Royal University where he studied law and was later called to the bar. After he left school, he joined the Gaelic League and became committed to the revival of the Irish Language and to educational reform. In the beginning he was more interested in education than political independence. The independent Irish-speaking school that he established in 1908 for boys in Dublin, St. Enda’s, was a place where the pupils were expected to "work hard [...] for their fatherland, and if it should ever be necessary [...] die for it".

As Pearse became more political, he also came to agree with physical force as a way to achieve the aims of republicanism. He also came to see a ‘blood sacrifice’ as a necessary means to that end.

The production gave an opportunity to gain further insight into the writing and thoughts of one of the key figures behind the Celtic Revival and the drive for political independence.

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To download images, click on the SmugMug logo above to open the Gallery in a new window.
SmugMug link
To download images, click on the SmugMug logo above to open the Gallery in a new window.
Photographs taken by Declan Brennan at the dress rehearsal in the dlr Mill Theatre on 29 March 2016.


Post-show discussions for 'The King' in the dlr Mill Theatre

Post-show discussion
(l-r) Joe McPartland (Q&A Host), Geoff O'Keeffe (Director) and Prof. Diarmaid Ferriter (UCD)

The three shows in the dlr Mill Theatre on 30, 31 March and 1 April featured a discussion led by a speaker who brought an added dimension to the evening, together with the opportunity for a Questions & Answers session with the audience.

The discussions were Chaired by Joe McPartland and the guest speakers were director Geoff O'Keeffe, who was joined by Dr Elaine Sissons (Wed), Brian Crowley (Thu) and Prof. Diarmaid Ferriter (Fri).

Elaine Sissons
Dr Elaine Sissons

Wednesday 30 March: Elaine Sissons Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology and IADT Fellow at the newly established Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Dublin. She completed a PhD at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. Her work addresses the importance of the visual in reconsidering textual biases within traditional literary and historiographical analysis. She is the author of Pearse’s Patriots: St Enda’s and the Cult of Boyhood (Cork University Press, 2004 repr. 2005) and co-editor of Made in Ireland? Visualising Modernity 1922-1992.

Brian Crowley
Brian Crowley

Thursday 31 March: Brian Crowley, author of Patrick Pearse, A Life in Pictures, is the curator of the Pearse Museum at St. Enda's in Rathfarnham, Dublin. Originally from Naas, Co. Kildare, he studied English and History in Trinity College and then completed a Masters in Museology in the University of East Anglia.

Brian has been working at the Pearse Museum since 2001. He is a director of the Irish Museum's Association and has served as editor of its journal, Museums Ireland.

Diarmaid Ferriter
Prof. Diarmaid Ferriter

Friday 1 April: Diarmaid Ferriter, Diarmaid Ferriter is one of Ireland’s best- known historians and is Professor of Modern Irish History at UCD. His books include The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000 (2004), Judging Dev: A Reassessment of the life and legacy of Eamon de Valera (2007) and Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland (2009). His most recent book, Ambiguous Republic: Ireland in the 1970s was published in 2012. He is a regular broadcaster on television and radio and a weekly columnist with the Irish Times.

Photographs taken at the final discussion with Diarmaid Ferriter and Geoff O'Keeffe are in a SmugMug Gallery at this location.


Cast of The King'
The King
Giolla Na Naomh
The Abbot
The Monks
The Soldier
The Community
Sharon McCoy
Aishling Ní Fhoghlú
Muriel Caslin O’Hagan
Brendan Dunne
Len Nealon
Oran O'Rua
Barry O'Connor
Francis Cahill
Doris Cullen
Teresa Dempsey
Lorcan Dunne
Susie Nix
Mary Ryan
Michael Sharp
Margaret Toomey
Fiona Walsh
Creative Team for 'The King'
Music Director
Lighting Design
Costume Design
Stage Manager
Production Manager
Lighting Operation
Graphic Design
Geoff O’Keeffe
Jacqueline Wall
Kris Mooney
Dympna Murray
Aoife Braiden
Mary Ryan
Declan Brennan
Paul Macken
Aoife O’Toole
DLR & OPW logos

'The King' was supported by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and the Office of Public Works.


A copy of 'The King' programme is available here as a PDF file.

The King


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