WHEN director Geoff Gould was asked in an interview back in 1991, what his dream play would be to direct, he didn’t hesitate.
‘I answered Brian Friel’s Philadelphia Here I Come. Strangely enough, the reason I answered the question easily and quickly was that I had been to see a superb production of the play at the Cork Opera House that same year,’ he said.
When Pat Talbot recently rang to ask him to direct a production of the play at that very same venue, Geoff genuinely thought he might have come across an old copy of the interview and was having a laugh at his expense.
‘In the intervening years the chances of directing a production of that size, it has a cast of 14, was and is considered unviable. I couldn’t believe it when he said he wasn’t joking,’ said Geoff, director of the Fit-Up Festival in West Cork, and formerly artistic director of The Everyman Theatre.
The modern classic will be the first major dramatic presentation for live audiences in Cork since the easing of restrictions running from Tuesday, October 5th to Saturday, October 16th.
‘Covid restrictions have been hard on many sectors of the business community but those of us working in theatre feel particularly aggrieved by the restrictions on the capacity of theatre venues. To be “given permission” to resume our theatre work after 18 months of inactivity is a welcome relief,’ said Geoff.
‘I am under no illusion that there are people who have had a far more stressful and difficult journey through the pandemic than those of us working in theatre.
‘Doctors, nurses and the many people in the retail sector who had no choice but to work in the community throughout the pandemic, many putting their own health at risk, have earned all our gratitude and respect.
‘I suppose there is a sense for many of us in the theatre industry, actors, writers, directors and designers that the pandemic has taught us never to take our work for granted. The joy of writing and developing a new script or production in a room full of creative minds and then being able to present that work to an audience will never again be underestimated.
‘Over the next month the cast and crew of Philadelphia Here I Come will work towards presenting Brian Friel’s masterpiece to a new generation, who, like ours, might take it to their hearts. That possibility, and the opportunity to once again practice our craft, is what makes the return to the rehearsal room so exciting.’
See corkoperahouse.ie for tickets.