From the Author of The Salvation of Stephen Dedalus
In an early scene of the play, the nasty Prefect of Studies recalls the old saying, ‘The Devil finds work for idle hands.’ But I here declare that the Devil did not provide the main impetus for my writing. Last spring I reread, for the first time in more than thirty years, Joyce’s Portrait, and was reminded of the terrible power of the sermons on hell and eternity – the sermons that so horrify the young Stephen Dedalus. Oh dear God! thought I – how wonderful ’twould be to perform those sermons on stage! And almost in the same moment, I recalled that my Department currently has some very capable students, some of whom had performed very impressively in Blood Wedding. I proposed the idea of a play based on Joyce’s novel to a few students I was already considering for key roles. They seemed keen. Melih Kalender, especially, seemed prepared to make a firm commitment to the project. I started in on the writing, and only upon the conclusion of my first draught did I recognize a constitutive flaw in my project: I, working in a Department – and, indeed, in a Faculty – dominated by women, had produced a play requiring a good number of male actors – and very few female actors. Just as the time for casting and first rehearsals was bearing down upon me, my teaching of Shakespeare came to my rescue: in Shakespeare’s theatre, boys played all female roles; in my play, young women would play all (or most) of the schoolboy roles.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Don Randall