Exploring the greatest new and classic plays

SUPPORT OUR PODCAST BY BECOMING A PATRON
CLICK HERE

Joe Dowling

Joe Dowling

Joe Dowling

Joe Dowling was born and educated in Dublin where at the age of 28 he became the youngest Artistic Director in the history of the Abbey Theatre. He followed his time at the Abbey by running the Gaiety theatre in Dublin, before moving to North America, where in 1996 he was appointed Artistic Director of the prestigious Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.

In his twenty years in charge at the Guthrie he directed more than 50 productions, including Shakespeare, American classics by O’Neill, Miller and Williams, as well as Irish plays of course, including Faith Healer in 2009, which he not only directed but also appeared in.

 

Photo by Joan Marcus

Recommended Play(s)

Joe recommended The Gigli Concert by Tom Murphy

 

 

 

043 – Faith Healer, by Brian Friel

043 – Faith Healer, by Brian Friel

043 – Faith Healer, by Brian Friel

Frank Hardy is a faith healer who is only occasionally able to heal. In fact nine times out of ten nothing happens. Frank, his long-suffering, indefatigably loyal wife Grace, and his manager, Teddy, tour small towns in Scotland and Wales hoping that Frank’s gift may reveal itself to the hopeless few that turn up to be cured. Grace and Teddy are tethered to Frank by their lack of alternatives and by his intermittent charisma and charm, despite his indifference and cruelty. When they have finally exhausted their chances in Britain they return to Ireland, where on a night in a pub in Donegal they reach the end of the road.

Each of these three characters tells their own version of their tawdry and tragic story in a sequence of monologues that together form Irish playwright Brian Friel’s masterpiece, Faith Healer. Although the premiere of the play in New York in 1979 was not a success, the Abbey Theatre in Dublin gambled on restaging it shortly thereafter, and it was a critical and popular triumph. The seminal 1980 Abbey production was directed by its young Artistic Director Joe Dowling, who recently returned to the same theatre more than 40 years later to direct a landmark revival of the play.

I am thrilled to be able to talk with Joe Dowling about a magnificent play that he has a unique knowledge of.

 

Joe Dowling

Joe Dowling was born and educated in Dublin where at the age of 28 he became the youngest Artistic Director in the history of the Abbey Theatre. He followed his time at the Abbey by running the Gaiety theatre in Dublin, before moving to North America, where in 1996 he was appointed Artistic Director of the prestigious Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. In his twenty years in charge at the Guthrie he directed more than 50 productions, including Shakespeare, American classics by O’Neill, Miller and Williams, as well as Irish plays of course, including Faith Healer in 2009, which he not only directed but also appeared in.

 

Recommended Play

Joe recommended The Gigli Concert by Tom Murphy

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo © Marc Brenner
We have footnotes for this episode …

The Footnotes to our episode on Faith Healer include observations on the elusive faith of the healers and the healed, and on the emotional truth of our memories.

Patreon Page

BECOME A PATRON!

Since I launched The Play Podcast in April 2020, I have managed to eschew any form of advertising or sponsorship, and I would like to continue to produce the podcast without doing so. I therefore invite you to help me to continue to make the podcast by becoming a Patron.
Additional benefits available to Patrons include Footnotes on the plays covered in the podcast, as well as exclusive access to The Play Review.

For details click here

Thank you very much for listening and for your support.
Douglas

The Texts
If you are interested in buying the play text or other related books, we’d be delighted if you choose to purchase them by following the links below. We will earn a small commission on every book you purchase, which helps to keep the podcast going. Through our selected partners Bookshop.org and Blackwell’s you will also be supporting independent bookshops. Thank you.
You might also be interested in …
057 – Arms and the Man, by George Bernard Shaw

057 – Arms and the Man, by George Bernard Shaw

G.B. Shaw’s Arms and the Man is both a sparkling romantic comedy and a telling satire of love, war and social pretension. It was Shaw’s first public success as a playwright when it premiered in London in 1894, and is currently enjoying an acclaimed revival at the Orange Tree theatre in Richmond, Surrey.

I’m joined by Shaw expert Ivan Wise, who is a previous editor of The Shavian, the journal of the Shaw Society.

056 – Good, by C.P. Taylor

056 – Good, by C.P. Taylor

C.P. Taylor’s powerful, cautionary play Good charts how an ostensibly ‘good’ person can become not just complicit to evil behaviour, but an active participant. Professor John Halder’s creeping moral compromise as he joins the Nazi elite in 1930’s Germany is a disturbing reminder of the dangers of populist political crusades.

The play is currently being revived at the Harold Pinter theatre in London with David Tennant in the role of John Halder, and I’m delighted to be joined by the production’s director, Dominic Cooke, to explore the contemporary resonances of this provocative play.

055 – Spring Awakening, by Frank Wedekind

055 – Spring Awakening, by Frank Wedekind

Frank Wedekind’s dark, expressionist play Spring Awakening is a cautionary portrait of adolescent angst and rebellion against oppressive social strictures and family pressures. Its frank depiction of sex and violence remains shocking more than 130 years after it was written, and it is the unlikely source of the award-winning modern musical of the same name.

I’m delighted to be joined by Professor Karen Leeder to explore the contemporary controversies and enduring relevance of this extraordinary play.