Shining City by Conor McPherson is about the visits of John, a business man, to a therapist, after seeing the ghost of his recently deceased wife. The therapist, who recently left the priesthood, is struggling with his own demons. The therapy sessions change both men profoundly and in unexpected ways, as they learn there is more than one way in which to be haunted.
Tickets: $19 general admission; $14 anyone over 65; $9 anyone under 25
no fee for online purchase
Cast: Ian: Ken Dauer, John: Bill Alden, Neasa: Shawnda Urie, Laurence: Patrick Best
The Irish Players program of the Rochester Community Players opens Conor McPherson’s ghostly drama, Shining City, this Friday March 14, at MuCCC Theater for a three week run. McPherson, author of The Wier and Dublin Carol, is one of contemporary Ireland’s finest young playwrights. The production is directed by Jean Gordon Ryon. This is the Rochester premiere of the play, which opened in London ten years ago.
The production will be presented at MuCCC Theater, 142 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester, March 14 to 29. MuCCC is located three blocks east of the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and University Avenue. Parking is available at a lot across the street.
Performance dates and times:
Friday & Saturday, March 14 & 15 at 8 PM
Friday & Saturday, March 21 & 22 at 8 PM
Sunday March 23 at 2 PM (this is the only matinee)
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 27-29 at 8 PM
The performance runs approximately 90 minutes, and runs without intermission.
Tickets may be purchased in advance at MuCCC.org or by phone at 866-811-4111. There is no service charge for online orders.
About the play: Shining City can be described as a modern day ghost story about human contact. Ian, an ex-priest, opens a therapist office in a shabby old building, four floor up with a dodgy door bell. His first – and perhaps only – client is John, so wracked with guilt from the death of his wife that he is haunted by her ghost. Ian himself has some catholic-guilt ghosts of his own, having abandoned his church, and not only his church. Other lost souls drift through the office. But to say more would spoil the surprises; this is an Irish ghost story, after all.
The play is based in no small part on life experiences of the Conor McPherson. A smash success while still in his twenties, as a playwright and a screen writer, he developed chronic alcoholism, which was reflected in the characters in his plays, such as The Wier, set in a pub, and Dublin Carol (which we produced three years ago), a story about an alcoholic undertaker.
In 2001, he was hospitalized, unconscious, for three weeks, suffering from pancreatitis. Following this brush with death, he sought out therapy, the inspiration for this play. “In going to therapists, I realized how many crazy people are in that job.”, he said. “To want to do a job like that you have to be very attracted to dysfunction.” (New York Times 5/14/2006, article by Jason Zinoman.)
Shining City opened in London three years after his illness. A review by Charles Spencer (The Telegraph; 6/11/2004) stated that “after that near-fatal bout of pancreatitis, McPherson is back in business, still only 32, fit, sober and, best of all, writing magnificently. Shining City is right up there with The Weir, moving, compassionate, ingenious and absolutely gripping. There were many passages at the play’s première when the quality of silence in the theatre was as rapt and attentive as any I have experienced. But there are also scenes that provoke great gales of laughter, others that send a shiver of fear down the spine.”
Other reviews of productions of this play:
“McPherson reverts back to the most ancient of dramatic forms: sheer storytelling. Only in this case, the campfire is a new therapist’s office, in Dublin, Ireland.” (San Diego Reader; 9/18/2013)
“In terms of construction, Shining City is as close to perfection as contemporary playwriting gets. As elliptical as the conversation is, there’s not a word or pause that doesn’t feed the work’s theme or its interconnected, disconnected stories.” (New York Times; 5/10/2006)
“McPherson is a playwright clearly thinking long and hard about what makes men behave the way they do.” (Variety; 5/9/2006)
“McPherson’s 2004 drama is the best kind of ghost story: the sort in which there are apparently no ghosts . . . But it’s not really a play about spooks so much as a compassionate study of how fallible, guilt-ridden people manage to haunt themselves.” (The Guardian; 9/1/2010)
“The playwright Conor McPherson spins ghost stories. He uses spectral encounters as a way of exploring a theme rooted in the human experience: guilt. Unfinished business is at the heart of Conor McPherson’s play, Shining City, an often potent and truthful accounting of the way we live.” (DC Theater Scene; 11/15/2011.)
“To call Conor McPherson’s play a “ghost story” would imply it provides some answer to the nature and existence of another world or its inhabitants. But in the streets and isolated dwellings of McPherson’s Dublin, there is no such certainty. . . This play is rather, for all its melancholy and despair, a love story.” (Chicago Theatre Beast; 1/31/2011)
The cast: Leading the production are two RCP veterans. Bill Alden, who plays the role of John, the client, received an award from the Theatre Association of New York State for ‘Excellence in Acting’ as “Brutus” in our Shakespeare Players production of Julius Caesar last Fall . Ken Dauer, who has appeared in dozens of Shakespeare and Irish Players productions, plays the therapist Ian. Mr. Dauer is also the set designer. Shawnda Urie and Patrick Best play the other two characters in the production.
Performance at the Acting Irish International Theatre Festival: Following its local presentation, our production of Shining City will be presented at the Acting Irish International Theatre Festival (AIITF) in Del Ray Beach, Florida, May 21, 2014. AIITF is an annual festival of Irish plays presented by Irish community theater programs from all over North America and Ireland. Last year we presented Is Life Worth Living? In Chicago, and in 2012 we performed Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten in Dublin. RCP’s Irish Players hosted the festival in Rochester in 2008.
In 2009, RCP’s Irish Players presented Conor McPherson’s play Dublin Carol at the AIITF in Calgary, Alberta. That production won the festival awards for best production, best lead actor and best supporting actor. The Irish Players are pleased to return to this marvelous playwright.
About the program: The Rochester Community Players, founded in 1924, created The Irish Players program in 1997 to focus specifically on Irish and Irish-American theater. From The Playboy of the Western World, our first production, to Shining City , our current show, the Irish Players present the best of Irish theater. Shining City is the 642nd production in RCP’s history, and our 18th Irish Players production.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: rochestercommunityplayers.org