Director’s Note | The Dead School
Our Artistic Director Andrew Flynn tells us why he chose to mount a tour of The Dead School
In July 1995 I made my way west to experience the Galway International Arts Festival. I recall queuing at Druid Theatre in an attempt to see a production called Silverlands. The next day on a trip to Kenny’s bookshop, I bought a copy of The Dead School. I was already a huge fan of Patrick McCabe, whose Butcher Boy and Carn I’d already read twice.
When I entered into the worlds of Raphael Bell and Malachy Dudgeon I was captivated. I couldn’t stop reading and once again I stayed up all night in a desperate attempt to complete a novel that I didn’t want to end.
Then in 1998, came the wonderful Macnas stage version. I can remember approaching Pat McCabe after the production to congratulate him, but went on to ask why he’d decided to focus the play on Raphael’s story, and for Malachy to have less presence. He was curious about my comment and we concluded that there could be another play in it… One that could focus on Malachy…
Twenty years later I found myself reading The Dead School again. I was much older, perhaps no wiser, but when I opened the first page I was once again captivated.
The starting point of this production was to have a large cast, with the notion that the colourful characters and world of the book could be created and give the audience the experience of living with Raphael Bell, Malachy Dudgeon and those that surround them.
We attempted to take a play that was essentially written for five actors and develop it to work with a large ensemble. Thankfully Pat McCabe’s novel provided the raw material to do this. We had a play script but, by dipping into the novel, it allowed us to satisfy the demands of having a large cast and meant we could help bring a greater balance in the telling of both stories.
The Dead School tours nationwide in February and March 2016.