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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Lost in Gaelic Translation

During the past few weeks, the Devanaughn Theatre has created a buzz in Boston about Irish playwright Brian Friel’s masterpiece called Translations, which was directed by Dani Duggan. Most of the buzz came in questions. “Where is the Devanaughn Theatre? Who is Dani Duggan? Who is Brian Friel and what is Translations about?”

In 1929, Brian Freil was born in Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland. Friel is acknowledged as one of the most accomplished playwrights working in the English language today. Friel’s complexities in his visions are expressed through his ability to manipulate the language of theatre and communicate his ideas. His plays speak for themselves, Philadelphia Here I Come!, The Freedom of the City, Faith Healer, and many more including Dancing at Lughnasa, which was made into an independent film and starred Meryl Streep.

In 1980 Friel founded a touring theatre company called “Field Day,” with Belfast-born Stephen Rea, who co-wrote Translations with Friel, but is known, for his brilliant award-winning acting in many films, both independent and blockbusters. Some of the better known films include Interview with a Vampire, Michael Collins, and The Crying Game. His “indie” film credits include The Butcher’s Boy and In Dreams, where in the latter he played alongside Annette Benning. Rea in his earlier career, along with a young Liam Neeson, played the characters, Owen and Doalty in the original production of Translations, which first debuted on September 1980 at the Guildhall, Derry, soon after the the script was completed, but before it went to print in 1981.

The play, Translations, which is set in 1833, centers in the small Gaelic-speaking town of Baile Beag, County Donegal, Ireland. The action arises when British troops and engineers suddenly start showing up in the small town, changing the Gaelic place names and signposts to a standardized equivalent, “With the King’s good English.” Social and political issues are a solid undertone, which add to the complexities, signaling the end of the old ways, bringing forth a new era in Ireland.

The Boston production of the play was skillfully directed by Dani Duggan, who is no stranger to theatre. Duggan worked and trained many years at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Education is obviously of the highest importance to Duggan, because she has been a teacher, dialect coach, and director throughout the United States as well as overseas in Europe. She is currently coordinator of theatre and speech at Middleborough High School in Massachusetts.

In the intimate box style theatre, with old fashioned wood floors, high ceilings and brick, character performers expressed themselves confident in their roles and engaged the audience, as if you were right in the middle of the action. It was definitely unique and, unlike the larger Boston theatres, it personalized the play’s events for each and every individual who came to see a show and that’s what they got-a great show!

Well, to set the record straight for live theatre fans attending future productions at the Devanaughn Theatre, the address is 791 Tremont Street in the heart of Boston’s South End. The building is called the Old Piano Factory and basically looks like an overwhelming fortress, especially while walking in the front door of the building, where security guards and wall mounted cameras surround the place and makes a person wonder. The main reason for security like that is important because the building contains many artist lofts, for artists consumed by works in-progress and finished projects for sale by the individual artists, all with the potential for some serious revenue. These artists’ spaces seem to offset the building, concealing one of Boston’s hidden gems called the Devanaughn Theatre, which is a cozy and intimate setting unlike most of the large-scale theatres in the city of Boston. It is literally a hidden gem because the theatre entrance is actually on the backside of the building and a person must walk through the back parking lot to get to the entrance.

The parking lot is not open to the public. It is only for people renting spaces in the building. One night, after a performance of the play production a woman was observed in hysterics and thought her car was stolen, however, the parking lot is frequently cruised by tow trucks, which was the cause of her missing car. The only place offered to park your vehicle is street parking or, for a fee, in a city parking garage, and neither are very hard to find, so be prepared. There are some new plays planned for the coming month at the Devanaughn Theatre, which include The Play About the Baby and Meet Mr. Manley. For more information call (617) 240-6317 or log onto www.devtheatre.com.