The Irish Film Institute, in collaboration with the Abbey Theatre, will present The Old Lady Says Yes: Lady Gregory, The Abbey, and Film on Saturday, May 12th in celebration of the incredible life and cultural legacy of Lady Augusta Gregory.
The range of Lady Augusta Gregory’s talents was considerable: co-founder of the Abbey Theatre, translator, folklorist, theatre producer and Yeats collaborator. She was also an important experimental dramatist in her own right. Initially showing a genius for comedy, she later wrote tragedies, histories, translations and an explicitly feminist play, Grania. She has been a significant presence in film also with Ria Mooney’s adaptation of her comedy The Workhouse Ward (1950); with John Ford’s adaptation of her play, The Rising of the Moon (1957); as represented by Dame Edith Evans in Ford’s Young Cassidy (1965); and with her translation of the poem ‘Dónall Óg’ in John Huston’s The Dead (1987).
The day kicks off at 13.00 with a shorts programme including The Workhouse Ward, a recently acquired adaptation of Lady Gregory’s one-act comedy centred on two bickering paupers confined to adjacent hospital beds, and Paul Rotha’s Cradle Of Genius, an Academy Award-nominated film, written by Frank O’Connor, presenting a history of the Abbey as fondly remembered by Abbey stalwarts Siobhán McKenna, Maureen Delaney, Harry Brogan, Barry Fitzgerald and Seán O’Casey.
The shorts programme will be followed by a panel discussion at 15.00 exploring the life and legacy of Lady Gregory and her continuing influence on the Abbey Theatre and its practitioners – panelists include Lelia Doolan, former Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre, Anthony Roche (UCD), Barry Monahan (UCC), and Mairéad Delaney, Archivist at the Abbey Theatre; the panel will be moderated by Melissa Sihra (TCD).
A screening of one of John Ford’s most personal films, The Rising of the Moon, follows at 16.45. Shot entirely on location in Ireland with actors recruited mainly from the Abbey Theatre, the film served as a fine showcase for Irish acting talent of the day, capturing the Abbey actors at the peak of their careers, and bringing the work of three important Irish writers to the world’s stage. The triptych style, which is by turns contemplative, comic and political includes work by Frank O’Connor, Martin J. McHugh, and a powerful updating to 1921 of the play by Lady Gregory that gives the film its title.
Tickets to the panel discussion and the shorts programme cost €5 each, while tickets to The Rising of the Moon are available at regular IFI prices. A ticket for all events costing €15 is also available online at www.ifi.ie or from the IFI Box Office on 01-6793477.