Many a writer has embraced the humble pub, in form as well as function. The great playwright Eugene O’Neill set The Iceman Cometh in a pub. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he himself sat in a pub while writing same said masterwork. Irish, Scottish and English authors have all had a local to call their own at some point or another. So it was no wonder, spending so much time in England, and more particular, in pubs, that I would set my first play in an Irish Pub. So much for originality.
Staging the first production of O’Donnell’s Pub in Dublin, or London might have made some sense. Or maybe New York, my home, or Los Angeles, my other home, would have also fit nicely, and the commute would have been less onerous. But no, my hometown of Zanesville, Ohio would be the logical choice for me. You see, before I was continuing my education in pubs, I began it on the stages of this town at the confluence of the Licking and Muskingum rivers. To be more precise, I learned much of what I know about theatre from a rag tag, clever bunch of theater peeps at the Zanesville Community Theatre. This group has been together in one form or another for more than 50 years. Many of the incarnation when I trod the boards there are long gone. But the talent and tenacity remain and the enthusiasm for live theatre is stronger than ever.
This is my love letter to them. I wanted my first play to be in my theatre home and my wish was granted. The theatre was committed to perform an original work and do it justice. And that they did. Everything from a set that made one thirst for a pint, to lighting and sound that would stack up with any theatre within 1,000 miles. The care and feeding of my little play was first rate. I smiled through every performance, something those fine muscles on this sour puss were unaccustomed to. Every hearty laugh and emotional tear were blessings to my soul. I have never been so happy.
One little story. On the second weekend, I sat in the third or fourth row. At the end, as requested by Jan Smith from the stage, I stood and took a bow. At the conclusion of the curtain call, a woman standing behind me said, “Did you write this play? I’m from Donegal (The location of the pub in the play) and I felt like I was at home. How much time did you spend there?” I had to confess that, alas, I had not spent any time there. I had been to both the Republic and Northern Ireland on several occasions, but never all the way out to Donegal. She didn’t seem upset, but thankful that she had just spent a few hours transported back to here homeland. And, poetically, in a way, this is the very theme of the play.
I would like to send my deepest gratitude to the entire cast and crew. Local theatre is a vital part of our society and helps keep the culture of cities and towns alive. The folks in Zanesville embrace this theatre and turn out every time ZCT mounts another production. I have been to lots of theatre all over the world, but rarely do I see such enthusiasm from both stage and audience. Lets all pray that the current health crisis abates and we can get back to what we all love the most: live theatre!
Thank you Amy Underwood, Angel Palmer, Carl Underwood, Reanna Warne, Hunter Lepi, Mollie Winland, Eric Blake, Jan Smith, Bob Skidmore, Jim Hoskinson, Phil Sakal, April Fox, Jane Ann Perry, Kara Kelly, Alaine Kay, Val Gahagan, Josh Gahagan, Dakota McConaha, Pam Smith, Phil Palmer, Rebecca Wagstaff, Lew Woodard, Jeff Koehler, Jay Wince, Rich Tolliver, Cary Underwood, Katie Tewksbary and Jan Kiikka.