Corrib Theatre At New Expressive Works Presents HURL

Corrib Theatre At New Expressive Works Presents HURLCorrib Theatre presents Charlie O'Neill's Hurl, directed by Tracy Cameron Francis, illuminating that perseverance and diverse perspectives can triumph in the face of historical, societal, and personal obstacles. The production features a robust eight-person cast and runs for four weeks, October 5 through 28, at New Expressive Works.

Tradition, desire, and bodies collide when an Irish team made up of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers-originally from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cuba, Bosnia, Vietnam, Argentina, and inner-city Dublin-is formed and compete in the very traditional and ancient Irish sport of hurling. Led by an alcoholic priest and a washed-up trainer, the team battles discrimination and bureaucratic barriers to make its way to the All-Ireland finals. With humor, wit, and energy, Hurl explores what it means to be Irish in the 21st Century.

"In the last couple of decades Ireland has gone through a seismic shift, moving from a homogeneous to a diverse society as migrants from other countries sought safety and opportunity here. So, what better way to examine the 'new Ireland' than to use new Irish writing to force two tectonic plates together - an archetypal Irishness of hurling, and a group of migrants who are trying to forge a life for themselves here.

I wrote Hurl because I am passionately interested in the positive power that difference brings. And I understand how leadership, at times, can manipulate, for its own selfish political reasons, under-informed and disenfranchised people to distrust difference and even to grow to hate it. So, I was interested in making a piece of theatre that would tell a people's story rather than a political polemic - an accessible, fun, dynamic play that had a deeper meaning and a beating heart.

I am so thrilled and proud that the play is finding a life in the U.S. I am so impressed by the integrity, bravery, and ambition of Corrib Theatre and their wider body of work. Though the political and social machinations are different in Ireland from those in the U.S., there are some parallels."

"Hurl is a fitting kickoff to Corrib's sixth season, one devoted to exploring what it means to be Irish in the 21st Century, where the issues transcend nationalism and reach towards an understanding of global citizenship," said Gemma Whelan, Corrib Theatre's artistic director. "Hurling is an Irish sport that was crucial to the spirit of the nationalism that developed at the turn of the 20th Century which eventually led to the formation of the Irish Free State. O'Neill's play, Hurl, explores the idea of home- feeling at home in your country of origin, or your adopted country; in your community; in your family and close relationships; in your own body and mind. The play tells a story where people of multiple backgrounds see themselves represented and can imagine a better future - one based on fairness and equality."

"As more immigrants and refugees live in fear of our government's increasingly hostile policies, it's important that the stories we tell on stage initiate the conversations we need to bring about positive change and action," said Hurl director, Tracy Cameron Francis. "While Hurl was written for an Irish audience, its accessibility and humor in broaching difficult topics will hopefully allow the audience to recognize how they might be a better neighbor in welcoming those who are new to our community, and fighting for those that are turned away."

HURLING is a 3,000 year-old stick and ball game, played on a grass field with goals at each end. Teams of 15 wield the stick (camán) to move the ball (sliotar) across the field to score at the goal.

EMIGRATION TO IRELAND in the past 20 years has changed the face and culture of the country. Hurl showcases the demographic shift in Ireland with a new population hailing from around the world, and how cultural and societal transformation takes place through the ancient sport.

· Between 1996 and 2011, the non-Irish born population of Ireland grew from less than 5% to 17%. - Dr. Charlotte McIvor, Migration and Performance in Contemporary Ireland

· In 2014, 25% of all births were to mothers born outside of Ireland. - Dr. Charlotte McIvor, Migration and Performance in Contemporary Ireland

· Ireland's 2017 population growth of 52,900 is the largest annual increase since 2008. The number of immigrants to Ireland is estimated to have increased by 2.8%. - Central Statistics Office, Ireland

· Persons with dual-Irish nationality increased by 87.4% to 104,784 persons in 2016.
- Census of Population 2016 "Migration and Diversity, All Non-Irish Nationals"

Corrib Theatre engages, inspires, entertains, and challenges audiences with theatrical productions filtered through the Irish experience, and with a focus on contemporary and lesser-known voices; we foster a diverse theatre community in our artists and patrons, and celebrate the essential power of the theatre to illuminate our common humanity.

For its sixth year, Corrib offers Portland audiences plays by contemporary Irish playwrights, with three decidedly relevant plays about life issues in Ireland as a mirror to the world: Hurl by Charlie O'Neill, directed by Tracy Cameron Francis (October 5-28, 2018); Four Last Things by Lisa Tierney-Keogh, directed by Gemma Whelan (February 1-24, 2019); and How to Keep an Alien by Sonya Kelly, directed by Gemma Whelan (April 12-May 5, 2019).

"These three plays explore the realities, complexities, and challenges of life in the 21st Century," said Gemma Whelan, Corrib's Founding Artistic Director. "They celebrate the vast diversity that is the new face of Ireland, revel in the differences, and face the underbelly and lack of comprehension that still exists-the clinging to tradition that persists despite enormous progress. In pitting outmoded concepts of the past against the culturally transformed landscape we now inhabit, our season casts a light on life in the U.S. today, and in our own city of Portland."

Corrib Theatre's 2018-19 season is sponsored by Ronni Lacroute and made possible with support from Ard-Chonsalacht na hÉireann/Consulate General of Ireland, Ira and Leonore Gershwin Philanthropic Fund, Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund, Oregon Arts Commission, Jackson Foundation, and Miller Foundation.


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