Blue Raincoat Returns to the Traverse with FIRST COSMONAUT, Now thru June 7

Blue Raincoat Theatre Company return to the Traverse in June with their new play, First Cosmonaut, marking the Irish company's fifth consecutive year performing at the Edinburgh venue.

The production sees Blue Raincoat once again joining forces with the playwright and dramaturge Jocelyn Clarke, who adapted for stage the award-winning Flann O'Brien trilogy, The Third Policeman, At Swim-Two-Birds and The Poor Mouth - which have all visited the Traverse.

This will be the first time the play has been seen since it's original production in October 2013 at Blue Raincoat's performance space The Factory in their home town of Sligo.

First Cosmonaut is a hilarious, playful and moving tale of one of Russia's great heroes, told through the eyes of a Russian fit-up theatre company who travel the West performing their story about Yuri Gagarin, the first human to journey into outer space.

Completing an orbit of Earth on 12 April, 1961, Gagarin was the first to see what no other human had ever seen before: the earth from outer space, and to experience the reality of our planet as a tiny, fragile blue ball of life hanging in the darkness of the void.

Speaking about First Cosmonaut Blue Raincoat's director, Niall Henry said: "Most of the ensemble have worked together for over twenty years and in that time the six productions that we have worked on with Jocelyn as writer have produced some of our most exciting work. We are very happy with our latest collaboration and delighted to be visiting the Traverse once more. Our Flann O'Brien trilogy had a great response there and we can't wait to perform our latest work to Scottish audiences."

Currently Ireland's only professional theatre ensemble, Blue Raincoat have won the reputation as one of the country's most respected and creative theatre teams, synonymous with a range of theatre styles from classical Shakespeare to the absurd and expressionistic worlds of Ionesco and Flann O'Brien.

Productions last year from Blue Raincoat include Samuel Beckett's Endgame which was performed at the prestigious Happy Days International Beckett Festival in Enniskillen in August; the final installment of their Flann O'Brien trilogy, The Poor Mouthand a production of Purgatory by WB Yeats on the summit of Knocknarea mountain in Sligo.

Productions for 2014 include another outdoor performance of On Baile's Strand by WB Yeats which will be live-streamed to screens around the globe, a remount of Blue Raincoat's A Brief Taste of Lightening by Malcolm Hamilton and a new production of Playboy of the Western World by JM Synge.


Blue Raincoat Theatre Company

First Cosmonaut

By Jocelyn Clarke

Directed by Niall Henry

Design: Jamie Vartan
Lighting design: Barry McKinney
Sound design: Joe Hunt

Cast: John Carty, Sandra O'Malley, Ciaran McCauley, Frances Healy, Bob Kelly

Venue: Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Dates & Times: Tonight 5 - Sat 7 June (7.30pm)
Ticket prices: £15.50 / £12.50 (£8 unemployed, disabled)
Booking: / 0131 228 1404

About Blue Raincoat: Blue Raincoat Theatre Company are Ireland's only full-time venue-based professional theatre ensemble. The company and performance space, The Factory, were founded in 1991. Blue Raincoat produce between four and six professional productions each year, with an emphasis on staging modern European classics, new writing and new adaptations for stage. The company employs a repertory system to tour each of these productions throughout Ireland and internationally.

Blue Raincoat provides a broad range of professional arts related support for community and cultural programming within their immediate region, including the annual theatre academy at The Factory in Sligo, where for three weeks 40 professional actors attend workshops on voice training and corporal mime. The company received two Irish Times Theatre Award nominations for their adaptation of Flann O'Brien's The Poor Mouth in 2012.

Niall Henry - Director: Niall trained in Paris with Marcel Marceau, Maxamillion Decroux and Corrine Soum. He returned to Ireland to co-found BlueRaincoat Theatre Company in 1991 and has been the company's Artistic Director since.

Niall's directing work for Blue Raincoat Theatre Company includes Shakespeare's The Tempest, Hamlet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream, Jocelyn Clarke's First Cosmonaut, adaptations of Alice and Alice Underground (co-produced with the Abbey Theatre) and Flann O'Brien trilogy: The Third Policeman, At-Swim-Two-Birds and The Poor Mouth (nominated for two Irish Times Theatre Awards) and Malcolm Hamilton's The Strange Voyage of Donald Crowhurst, A Brief Taste of Lightening and Still Life. Directing work for the Abbey Theatre includes: The Playboy of the Western World and Colm Toíbín'sBeauty in a Broken Place (for Abbey One Hundred).

Critics from the Irish Times, The Sunday Times and The Sunday Tribune have selected Blue Raincoat productions a theatre highlight of the year on fourteen occasions.

As well as founding Blue Raincoat Theatre Company Niall has founded or co-founded The Factory Performance Space, Cairde Arts Festival, The Sligo Youth Theatre, Blue Raincoat Theatre Academy, Tread Softly...Yeats Festival and The Mad Hatter Children's Theatre Festival.

Jocelyn Clarke - Writer: Jocelyn Clarke is a freelance dramaturg and writer. He is currently Theatre Adviser to the Arts Council of Ireland and dramaturg at American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He has taught dramaturgy at the John Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, Columbia University and Trinity College Dublin. Jocelyn was the Commissioning and Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre for four years, and lead theatre critic with The Sunday Tribune for nine years. He is an associate artist with The Civilians and Theatre Mitu in New York, and he is a member of the artistic staff of the Sundance Institute's Theatre Lab. He has worked as a dramaturg on several productions by Blue Raincoat Theatre Company and has written five adaptations for the company: Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Third Policeman, At-Swim-Two-Birds and The Poor Mouth. He has written six plays for Anne Bogart and the SITI Company: Bob, Alice's Adventures Underground, Room, Score, Antigone and Trojan Women (After Euripides). His productions for children and young people include an adaptation of Neil Gaiman and David McKean's graphic novel, The Day I Swapped my Dad for Goldfish for The Ark (nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Production); The Little Deer, The Crimson Fly & The Swan Children for the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and Finn for Mabou Mines in New York. Jocelyn is currently working with the Theatre Mitu on a new collaboration Hamlet / Ur Hamlet, which will premiere in in Abu Dhabi late 2015.

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