Sean O'Casey Estate

Sean O'Casey Estate Portrait


Sean O’Casey was born in Dublin in 1880. He grew up in poverty and hardship in a Dublin tenement house. He suffered from poor eyesight, which greatly affected his education. He spent the first half of his life as a labourer, but became increasingly involved in the Irish political struggle for independence and the need to improve conditions for the poor. He was secretary of the Irish Citizen Army, and wrote for the Irish Worker. He wrote about the struggles of life for the poor in Ireland. His first play, THE SHADOW OF A GUNMAN, was first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, followed swiftly by JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK, and THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS. Later plays include THE SILVER TASSIE, RED ROSES FOR ME, WITHIN THE GATES and COCK-A-DOODLE-DANDY. He moved from Dublin to England, where he also wrote his acclaimed six volumes of autobiography.  O’Casey lived with his family in Devonshire until his death in 1964.


05 August 2016

Sean O’Casey’s THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS opens at the National Theatre

Sean O’Casey’s THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS opens at the National Theatre

To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising, the National stages an epic new production of O’Casey’s play, co-directed by Howard Davis and Jeremy Herrin.  It runs until 22nd October.

What’s On Stage ★★★★★

“High comedy rubs up against deep seriousness.”

“The language, though entirely realistic, ripples and shimmers, full of profound poetry, tipping into darkness as the tragedy deepens.” 

“It's an extraordinary play and beautifully served by the production” 

“a magnificent, heart-felt revival of a major play.”

The Financial Times ★★★★★

“If O’Casey had written nothing else, this portrait of the inhabitants of a Dublin tenement building would have put him among the great dramatists of the past two centuries.” 

The Telegraph ★★★★

“the drama gathers in intensity to a final act of harrowing brilliance.”

“As the play ends, there is a beat of silence before the ovation: the unmistakable sound of an audience whose imagination has travelled a great distance returning with an effort to present reality.” 

The Guardian ★★★★ 

“once the play starts to exert its grip, it never lets go and leaves you shaken and stirred.”

“O’Casey’s great gift was to see the events of 1916 from the perspective of working-class Dubliners.”

“O’Casey refrains from judging his characters. Instead he presents them in all their abundant, complex humanity.”

“movingly affirms the importance of life over bloodstained ideals.”

Radio Times ★★★★ 

“hilarious and heartrending by turns”

“O'Casey's characters are gloriously garrulous, painting vivid scenes in their broad accents, each with their own endearing quirks of speech.”

“O'Casey's potent blend of comedy and tragedy really packs a punch.”

The Reviews Hub ★★★★ 

“the most shocking moment of all comes right at the end, with the pouring of a cup of tea. O’Casey’s genius, and the intelligence of this production, leaves the audience emotionally battered and frail enough that this seemingly simple act feels like an assassin finishing off a crawling target.” 

City A.M. ★★★★ 

“bounces between comedy and absurdity before bedding into gut-wrenching tragedy”

The Upcoming ★★★★ 

“O’Casey’s drama is remarkably fleet-footed, never failing to find humour in the darkest of moments thanks to the mellifluous mockery of its characters.”

“a bleak, if brutally funny, reminder that behind each revolution lies those merely trying to preserve whatever meagre life they had managed to construct from their poverty in the face of sweeping change.” 

London Theatre ★★★★

“Sean O'Casey's sprawling but sensational 1926 play pulses with real life -- and so does the National Theatre's beautiful new production”

“there's such poetry in the language and humanity in the performances that we become fully immersed in its world.”

“a haunting sense of truth and honesty.”

The Londonist ★★★★

“superbly crafted tragicomedy”

“large-scale, stirring production”

21 March 2016

Sean O’Casey’s THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS opens at The Abbey Theatre, Dublin

Sean O’Casey’s THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS opens at The Abbey Theatre, Dublin

The Abbey’s latest production of O’Casey’s classic drama, is staged during the centenary of the Easter Rising (April 1916), and presented in a new light by director Sean Holmes.

The Guardian ★★★★ 

“succeeds in being very moving, while asking insistent questions about social justice”

“refreshed, high-energy restaging” 

“Sean O’Casey’s 1926 classic of political theatre still has insistent questions to ask about social justice” 

The Stage ★★★★ 

“O’Casey’s play spits out ugly truths, and while holding to account the troubles currently choking Irish society – housing shortage, depressing living conditions for asylum seekers”

“a bold update for contemporary Ireland” 

The Irish Times 

“brings his characters into the light of the present.”

“vigorous, pacey staging”

“The words are O’Casey’s, but delivered in voices closer to our own.”