Branford Calliope Courtyard at Yale
At its core, this play is a ghost story.
Everyone in Shining City is haunted by something; be it adultery, abuse, homelessness, or a lifetime in the closet, the ghosts that follow these characters hang in the air like a thick, inescapable mist. However, these ghosts have a history that goes far beyond the text that they inhabit. They are leftovers from a religious and sociopolitical hangover, the direct result of Ireland’s tumultuous history. Transforming from an indentured and actively militarized British colony to one of the most progressive countries on the world stage, all in under a mere hundred years, the whirlwind of the Irish historical timeline is reflected in the whirlwind events of this play. Specifically, this multilayered history is embodied in the character of Ian: a closeted ex-priest-turned-therapist struggling to balance his responsibility to his patients, his girlfriend, their infant daughter, and himself.
Our interpretation of this piece is grounded in its oft-underemphasized queerness. Many LGBTQ+ publications have aptly called the queerness in this play “a ghost of its own potential,” and thus we have sought to place this subtext at the forefront, inspiring our decision to cast John as a woman. As Ian watches his own life reflected in hers, he sees the ways that his life could’ve been both better and worse had he the strength to show the world who he really is. In many ways, the only difference between our female John and Ian is that she lives her truth, often to a fault, and he is too scared to live his own. As these two people learn from each other, and the circles of Ian’s external life impose on the narrative, we see the reality of the modern queer experience reflected on the stage: accepted in theory, still coated in fear in practice.
But that’s the big picture, and this piece is all in the minutiae.
It is these minutiae that I find so enrapturing about this play, and that I hope you do too. It is a voyeuristic glance into the interpersonal breakdowns of its characters, and as you sit in this courtyard, surrounded by the glowing windows of our own shining city, our surrogate for Dublin, you might feel yourself being watched by their inhabitants just as you watch the guests in Ian’s office.
And who knows – if you watch closely enough, you may even catch a glimpse of a ghost or two.
Photos by Anisë Murseli and Carson White
Show Clips and/or Full Production Footage Available Upon Request
Director: Madison Cole
Producer: Kara O'Rourke
Stage Manager: Eliza MacGilvray
Set Designer: Perri Hawkins
Lighting Designers: Kara Amar, Eitan Acks
Sound Designer: Jonathan Weiss
Costume Designer: Selin Goren
Props Designer: Perri Hawkins
Dramaturg: Sarah Valeika
Assistant Director: Marissa Blum
Assistant Producer: Bradley Nowacek
Assistant Stage Manager: Hemakshi Gordy
Makeup Artist: Carson White
Dialect Coaches: Aaron Cullen, Daire Lynch, Emma McAteer
Ian: Aaron Magloire
John: Malia Munley
Neasa: Emma McAteer
Laurence: Calum Baker