Nolan and Roche plays highlight of Four Rivers 2024 programme
Four Rivers has announced a busy programme for 2024 which will include a production of A Handful of Stars by Billy Roche in Wexford and Dun Laoghaire, a new play by Jim Nolan in Waterford, a reading of a new play by Eddie Rowe and a revival, at Christmas, of the company’s critically acclaimed staged reading of Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan.
2024 marks the 35th anniversary of the first professional production of A Handful of Stars, the first play in Billy Roche’s famous Wexford trilogy, which also includes Poor Beast in the Rain and Belfry, described at the time by The Guardian as ‘one of the year’s great theatre events.’
Directed by Conall Morrison and designed by Liam Doona, with lighting by Paul Keogan and costumes by Jeni Roddy, A Handful of Stars is coming home to Wexford in June with a fortnight run at Wexford Arts Centre.
As part of the Arts Centre’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2024, Four Rivers will simultaneously celebrate the career of Billy Roche – playwright, novelist, actor and singer -with public interviews, an exhibition of the playwright’s memorabilia, readings (Poor Beast in the Rain and Belfry, directed by Heather Hadrill) and a panel discussion including Billy Roche and Conall Morrison, moderated by Tom Mooney.
Meanwhile, set over two days in the back garden of a decaying terraced house in Waterford’s inner city, Jim Nolan’s new play Castel Gandolfo revolves around the cataclysmic exposure – and radically conflicting recollections – of a family’s deepest and most secret wounds.
Directed by Ben Barnes, Four Rivers will premiere Castel Gandolfo at Garter Lane, Waterford for a twelve night run in October. The play marks Ben’s sixth collaboration with the Jim: designed by Dermot Quinn, lighting by John Comiskey and costumes by Jeni Roddy.
Our year will be bookended by two special events: Four Rivers will conduct a three day workshop this spring culminating in an industry and public reading of Eddie Rowe’s new play, The Weather at Streatham at the National Opera House, and in December the company will revive its highly successful reading of Small Things Like These.*
Set in 1781 on the Thrale estate, The Weather at Streatham dramatises the relationship between the foremost socialite of the period, Hester Thrale and Doctor (Dictionary) Johnson. Audiences will identify with her lone stand against the constraints of her world and the literary giant that was Johnson. The reality of that history and story gives the play an unmistakable contemporary edge.
Small Things Like These, short-listed for the Booker Prize in 2022, is set in Co. Wexford town in the 1980s in the run up to Christmas: as coal merchant Bill Furlong does his rounds, he discovers a girl locked away in terrible conditions in the local convent. Unlike the silent majority, he decides to do something about it.
A Handful of Stars, Wexford Arts Centre, June 8|9|11|12|13|14|15|16
A Handful of Stars, Pavilion, Dun Laoghaire, June 18|19|20|21|22.
Castel Gandolfo, Garter Lane, Waterford, October 7|8|9|10|11|12|14|15|16|17|18|19
*The Weather at Streatham and Small Things Likes These: dates to be confirmed
Four Rivers, with its dramaturg, Louise Stephens is currently working on new plays with Wexford writers, Katie McCann, Alison Martin, Eoghan Rua Finn and Megan O’Malley with a view to production in 2025-26. Additional plans for 2025 also include a professional/community project at the National Opera House.