Irish Actors, Scholars & Playwrights at Princeton

Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes
Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes

Distinguished Irish actors, theater directors and other luminaries gathered at Princeton University Oct. 13-15 for discussions, readings and performances highlighting the “Players & Painted Stage Symposium.”

Among the many speakers were Irish actor Stephen Rea, known for his Oscar-nominated performance in The Crying Game; Irish actress Fiona Shaw, who has been called the best Shakespearian actress on stage today; and Irish director Garry Hynes, the first woman to win a Tony Award for theater direction.

A performance of playwright Brian Friel’s Translations, directed by Hynes, ran concurrently with the symposium, and will soon open on Broadway. The symposium celebrated the donation to the university by alumnus Leonard L. Milberg of an expansive Irish theater collection that includes more than 1,000 plays, photographs, playbills and other works, documenting the history of Irish theater dating back 160 years.

Milberg’s collection, which includes the unpublished manuscript “The Cooing of Doves” by playwright Sean O’Casey, was donated in honor of Irish poet Paul Muldoon, who called Milberg “the embodiment of the true lifelong learner.”

Joe Dowling, former director of the Abbey Theatre, and current artistic director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, delivered the keynote address, and discussed the differences between Irish and American theater.

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