The premiere of the Irish language version of Seamus Scanlon’s award winning play The Long Wet Grass | An Féar Fada Fliuch took place in Queens at the weekend. The venue was the historical Moore Jackson Community Garden which has been revamped in recent years by the Garden’s director Elizabeth O’Connor whose four grandparents came from Ireland in the 1920s and ‘30s. She is also a fan of the Irish weather. An outdoor venue suits the play which is set at dawn near Callow Lake in Mayo. The Spanish version was also performed outdoors in the Lower East Side in The Green Oasis Garden in October 2021.
The cast comprised Jo Kinsella as Woman and Tim Ruddy as Victor. Don Creedon from An Beal Bocht directed it with great feeling and sensitivity. The translation into Irish was written by Dr. Mícheál Ó hAodha (University of Limerick) who is from the same town of Galway as author Scanlon. Galway is also the home of Nora Barnacle, The Rahoon Flats, Lord Haw Haw and The Galway Races – all of which are mentioned in the opening pages of the play (if you want to learn some Galway history at the same time.)
The first iteration of the play was part of “The McGowan Trilogy” back in 2014 where Nancy Manocherian’s cell theater production (directed by Kira Simring) won three awards in the 1st Irish festival. The play subsequently ran in the UK and Ireland in 2015. In 2018 the Japanese language version of the play was produced in Aichi, Hyogo and Tokyo. Four amateur drama groups in Ireland have staged “The Long Wet Grass” and the other sections of the “Trilogy” (“Dancing at Lunacy” and “Boys Swam Before Me”) since 2017 and Millrace Theatre Group won the All Ireland One Act Play Festival with “Dancing” in December 2022.)
“Working at The City College of New York where a large percentage of the students are Spanish speakers prompted me to stage the bilingual English/Spanish version in 2021” said Scanlon. “The idea of the Irish version then struck me as my next project.”
This is the first play in Irish performed outdoors in New York as far as we can gather and may be the first play in Irish performed anywhere in New York ((open to correction). Further venues for the Irish version in 2023 and 2024 are under investigation.
Scanlon is an educator at The City College of New York’s Downtown Campus (www.ccny.cuny.edu/cwe) which specializes in BA degree programs for adults (since 1981).