Abbey Theatre to stage premiere outside Dublin for the first time
Adaptation of Ken Loach film Jimmy’s Hall to be debuted in Leitrim where it is set
Jimmy’s Hall is a theatrical adaption of the screenplay written by Paul Laverty for the 2014 Ken Loach film.
The play will be the first directed for the Abbey by Graham McLaren. He and Neil Murray took over as co-directors of the theatre last year.
Mr McLaren said the Abbey, as the national theatre, should not be confined to Dublin and he anticipates that productions which are set outside the capital will be similarly staged on location.
“It is the first time the Abbey has gone to make a show in the community that the show is about,” he said. “I feel honour-bound to tell the people of Leitrim their own story first.”
Jimmy’s Hall tells the true story of the Pearse-Connolly Hall built by Gralton in Effernagh outside Carrick-on-Shannon in 1921.
Gralton was a radical socialist and fell foul of the local clergy who denounced him as a communist. The hall burned to the ground on Christmas Eve 1932.
Gralton went on the run and was hunted, as his mother put it, “like a wild deer”. He was deported by the De Valera government in August 1933. Gardaí put him on a steamer to the United States and he never returned to Ireland.
Metaphor for freedom
Mr McLaren said he was attracted to the story because the hall was in many ways a metaphor for the freedom which did not come about when Ireland gained its independence.
“Jimmy Gralton had a vision of Ireland as a fair and equal society, with people’s needs put in front of profit, at the heart of its culture,”he said.
“He wanted to create a space for people to come and break bread, to sing the old songs, to fall in love, argue about politics and to be a community. This act was such a threat to the people in power, that they vilified Jimmy. They burned down the hall and he was deported.”
Mr McLaren said another aspect of the story was the manner in which documents relating to Gralton’s deportation went missing from the files.
“This is a story of the little guy. What fascinates me about this story is that Jimmy Gralton became a sort of non-person in Ireland.”
Mr McLaren said the show will be staged in the community hall rather than in the Dock Theatre because it is the only venue in the town big enough to host it.
Jimmy’s Hall will preview in Carrick-on-Shannon on July 20th and 21st before the opening night on July 22nd. It will then move to a three week run in the Abbey Theatre with previews on July 28th and 29th followed by the opening night on July 31st.