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The Weir
The Weir

by Conor McPherson
Directed by Julia Kemp

8th to 15th December 2018

Listen to the Director

Auditions – Sunday 15th July at 2.00pm

The Weir won the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 1999.    It was voted one of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th century in a poll conducted by the National Theatre.  It also features in a recent book by theatre critic Michael Billington as one of the 101 greatest plays ever written in any western language.

It’s the late 1990s.  On a dark and blustery night in a remote, rural bar in Ireland, four men who know each other of old and a woman who is a stranger to the area exchange conversation and banter. As the drink flows and the night wears on, things take a darker turn when the talk turns to faeries, folklore and unquiet spirits. 

Within the mundane chat, joshing, and bickering there are small glimpses of loneliness, regret, the sadness of a life wasted, fear of change.   The history the men share; the compassion and affection they have for each other.  The numbing grief of a tragic loss.    At the end of the play we think that perhaps we are all haunted by something; but is it the dead, the living, or loss, or loneliness?  Or a chance missed?

Played as it is on one, naturalistic set, with no complicated staging or flashy effects, this is absolutely an actor’s play which offers you the chance to really get under the skin of McPherson’s characters, and affords you the privilege of delivering his rich, vivid, often wonderfully funny but also very sad, dialogue.  

Seemingly unassuming (McPherson himself described it as “just people talking”) The Weir is a multi-layered play full of depth, and is by turns funny, moving, and genuinely unsettling.

Convincing, sustained Southern Irish accents will be required, but we will seek the support of a dialect coach if necessary.    All the characters - except Finbar - smoke.  The play runs for an hour and 40 minutes with no interval, so that’s a nice early finish on performance nights!

“McPherson moves seamlessly from the inconsequential to the profound, and there are two passages towards the end of the play that are among the most beautiful and haunting in modern drama. The first occurs when the female visitor to the area tells her own ghost story which is so upsetting and personal that it has haunted me ever since I first saw the play 15 years ago.   The second describes a simple act of kindness received by one of the characters when he was at his lowest ebb and realised that his chance of happiness had probably been lost forever. As the boozy old Irishman recounts it to the grieving woman it becomes a moment of astonishing dramatic grace and generosity”. Charles Spencer – Daily Telegraph

Brendan  

In his 30s.  The “landlord” i.e. he owns the farm the bar is attached to.   Maybe he seems the “strong silent type” but he’s emotionally estranged from the world – conscious of his alone-ness but frightened to change it.  Brendan engages in the banter throughout but does not tell a ghost story.  

P4 “That’s some wind, isn’t it” to P5 “Were you in Carrick yourself?” (Jack to read)

Jack  

Local garage owner.   In his 50s.   Jocular and curmudgeonly in equal measure!  Winds the others up.   Props the bar up most nights.   Had a chance at “happiness” in his youth but for reasons he doesn’t really understand now; threw it away, and it’s too late for him now.   Has two stories – one ghost, one personal.

P21 “So there they were, sitting there…..”  to “P22 “And Maura Nealan’s house was built on what you’d call… that…. road”.    (Valerie and Jim to read)

Jim  

In his 40s.   Shy and a bit awkward.    Local handyman.  Lives with, and looks after, his elderly Mammy who’s been in failing health for years.      Mammy is both a genuine reason, and a handy excuse, for him to not branch out of his comfort zone in any way.    Kind.   He’s a bit of a peacemaker.    Has one very disturbing ghost story.

P32 “And we saw the hearse arrive then” to “And he walks off”.

Finbar

Late 40s to early 50s.   Local boy made good.  Confident.    Bit loud and flashy.  The only married man in the play - although we never see his wife.    Owns a hotel and “half the town” and is squiring Valerie about showing her around, having either sold or rented her the house she’s moving into.   Slightly resented by the others.   Has one ghost story.

P24 “There was a house out near where we were….” To P25 “… or what do you call it?”

Valerie

In her 30s/early 40s.  City girl.    Is moving to the countryside from Dublin.   Attractive.  It seems she may have something on her mind, something going on in the background – but she positively encourages, and is interested in, the local tales of the supernatural.   Has the final, very creepy, and very upsetting story.

P37 “No, see, something happened to me…..” to P38 “… and what she saw on the telly, and all of this.”

ENSEMBLE AUDITION

Time and numbers permitting I may also ask some auditionees to read as an Ensemble, in which I may mix and match people.   Please read through this section of the play in preparation. 

P19 from Finbar: “Jays, he’s a desperate fella that one” to P20 Jack: “She was the youngest”.

If you require more information, or you would like to borrow a script for a limited period, please contact me at juliakemp20@yahoo.co.uk or by mobile on 07905 251045.    If you would like to spend longer with the script - it is available to purchase here (both new and used) on Amazon. 

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