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in ireland and, after a week or so of ibsen, chekhov and strindberg,

THE TOWN IS OFF ITS NUT* That, in a nutshell, is the story of IS LIFE WORTH LIVING? –

a gloriously goofy comedy that imagines the impact a steady diet of serious drama might have on the amiable residents of the seaside town of Inish.


he fun begins when the town elders decide to improve the tone of the place. Enter Hector de la Mare and his wife Constance Constantia of the De La Mare Repertory company—committed exclusively to “psychological and introspective drama: the great plays of Russia, an Ibsen or two, a little Strindberg.” H:



alas, plays of this kind draw very small audiences and make very little money. so why do you go in for them, if it’s not a rude question? because they may revolutionize some person’s soul.

Whether or not the souls of Inish require revolution is the question this comedy poses, and the answer just might surprise you! Don’t miss Is Life Worth Living? — a cheerful comedy for gloomy times. *Variety, 1933 London

“Lennox Robinson

is easily the most skilful dramatist that the Irish theatre has produced.”


- St. John Ervine, Vanity Fair (Mint regulars may remember Ervine as the author of John Ferguson, 2006.)


Robinson began to write poetry in his teens, vaguely dreaming of a career as a poet or musician. In 1907, when he was 20, he saw a touring production of the Abbey Theater. The performance changed his life. He was promptly inspired to write his first play, The Clancy Name, a realistic drama about a patrician Irish family willing to destroy itself so its good name can be preserved. The play was produced at the Abbey in 1908 and caught the attention of W.B. Yeats, who promptly hired Robinson, despite his youth and lack of experience, as the theater manager. Yeats felt that running a theater was the best education Robinson could have as a playwright.

Satire of Seaside Resort Takes Fling at “Arty” Set, Politicians and Smug Bourgeois Class

Robinson was a key figure in the Irish theater for decades. His comedy The Whiteheaded Boy was second only to Playboy of the Western World as the most performed play in Ireland. The author of more than 30 plays, his style defies categorization; during his prolific career, Robinson penned comedies, tragedies, radio plays, poetry, an historical novel, and short stories.

Wireless to the New York Times DUBLIN, Feb. 11 – All artistic and Literary Dublin is flocking to the Abbey Theatre to enjoy Lennox Robinson’s new satirical comedy “Is Life Worth Living?” Not since he wrote “The Whiteheaded Boy” has Mr. Robinson written a more brilliant piece of satire of the simplicity of rural life in Ireland. The author adroitly endeavors to outwit the critics by describing the play as “an exaggeration.” Delightful exaggeration it certainly is, under cover of which Mr. Robinson enjoys himself immensely lampooning everybody and anybody in Irish life today. He pokes deliciously humorous fun at the “arty” set in Dublin who take themselves too seriously.

T N I M h events c i r n e Saturday, Aug 22nd after the matinee

Meet the Designers Director Jonathan Bank and members of the design team

An opportunity for you to learn more about the creative process that went into designing our production. Usually designers labor behind the scenes, but this afternoon they’ll be the stars of our discussion.

Saturday, Aug 29th after the matinee

Talking Back to the Cast Members of the cast will discuss the play and take your questions. They may have a few questions for you as well!

Saturday Sept 12th 11:00 to 12:30, prior to the matinee

Brush Up Your Ibsen!

Professor J. Ellen Gainor (Cornell University)

The De La Mare Repertory Company performs great works from the Russian and Scandinavian Drama for the people of Inish in Lennox Robinson’s comedy. Professor J. Ellen Gainor of Cornell, co-editor of the Norton Anthology of Drama will enhance your enjoyment of the play by refreshing your memory of the plots of various Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov dramas, while also discussing the impact that those works had when they were first produced. J. ELLEN GAINOR is Professor of Theatre, Film, and Dance and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Cornell University. She has written extensively on British and American drama of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and also lectures regularly at professional theaters across the United States, in Canada, and abroad.

Sunday, August 23rd after the matinee

Remembering Lennox Robinson

Sunday Sept 20th after the matinee

Vincent Dowling will reminisce about meeting Robinson and discuss his own experience of acting in Robinson’s plays at the Abbey and elsewhere.

Professor Martin Meisel (Columbia University)

VINCENT DOWLING is a Lifetime Associate Director of The Abbey Theatre. During 27 years, he was Artistic Director, Deputy Artistic Director, and Director of the Experimental Theatre and, for 23 years, a leading company actor and director.

Thursday, Sept 10th after the evening performance

Do Plays Have Consequences?

In IS LIFE WORTH LIVING?, Robinson shows the powerful influence that the theater has over the inhabitants of Inish, a small, seaside town in Ireland. Does he exaggerate the power and influence of the theater and the arts in general over our daily lives? Professor Martin Meisel will explore this provocative question. MARTIN MEISEL is Brander Matthews Professor Emeritus of Dramatic Literature, Columbia University and author of How Plays Work.

IS Life Worth Living?? Wendy Brennan & Easy Klein (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

Our comedy takes a lighthearted look at a serious issue. This discussion will consider whether there is any underlying truth to the play’s “exaggeration” about the ways that art and culture can impact on our mental health. WENDY BRENNAN is the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, New York City and EASY KLEIN is the host of Mental Health Update, NAMI-NYC’s cable television program. The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City Metro, Inc. is a grassroots organization that provides support, education and advocacy for families and individuals who live with mental illness.

Saturday Sept 26th after the matinee

Lennox Robinson and The Abbey Theater Professor John P. Harrington (Fordham University)

Robinson played an important role at the Abbey Theater for nearly his entire professional life, beginning in 1909 when he was made manager of the company at the tender age of 23—and in turn, the work of the Abbey played a critical role in Robinson’s development as a playwright. Robinson wrote the first history of the Abbey, covering the first fifty-years. JOHN P. HARRINGTON is the author of The Irish Play on the New York Stage and editor of the Norton Anthology of Modern Irish Drama. John is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Fordham University.




immediately after the performance and usually last about fifty minutes. they are free and open to the public.

speakers and

dates subject to change without notice.

Sept. 16th Pre-show discussion and dinner

Professor Christopher Morasch

A Submerged Tradition $100 per person includes your ticket to the performance plus a two- course dinner and either dessert or a glass of wine at Etcetra, Etcetra! (352 W 44th)

CHRISTOPHER MORASCH is the Head of the School of English, Drama and Media Studies at National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He is the author of A History of Irish Theatre 1601-2000, winner of the 2002 Theater Book Prize. Chris is currently working on a history of the media in Ireland, commissioned by Cambridge University Press.

Lennox Robinson was a central figure in the life of the Abbey theatre over four decades; the author of a series of intelligent, witty plays that probe the ways in which powerful ideas can unsettle ordinary life. Today, however, even his best work is seldom staged. This talk will take a brief look at why Robinson’s work has become part of a submerged tradition in Irish theatre, and why, in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, it may well be time he was rediscovered.

Professor Morasch will be in residence for a week, conducting a post-show discussion, a pre-show lecture and a lecture off-site at the Glucksman Ireland House, co-presented by the Mint and NYU.

Ibsen in Inish: Lennox Robinson and the Staging of Peripheral Modernity

Sept. 13th after the matinee

™ThesePlays Began to Put Ideas into Our Heads∫ IS LIFE WORTH LIVING? is a rarity in Irish theatre of the 1930s: it is a play that acknowledges, somewhere off in the wings, the greats of modern drama: Ibsen, Chekhov, and Strindberg. However, it does so with Robinson’s characteristically level gaze:

“Those plays changed the current of my life,” reports Hector de la Mare “Did they change Cork?”, asks a town elder.

“They did not” is Hector’s prompt reply.

Robinson’s play manages not only to provide its audiences with a finely crafted theatrical experience; it prompts us to ask about what that experience means for the way we live our lives.

During a delicious meal at Etcetra, Etcetra Professor Morasch will provide enlightening background that will enhance your enjoyment of the evening’s performance. Sept. 17th, 7:00 at the Glucksman Ireland House

At the Glucksman Ireland House, NYU One Washington Mews (212) 998-3950

There is a tendency in Irish cultural history to see the decades after 1926 as a period in which Ireland pulled down the shutters, and went into hibernation. In this reading, the period of intense globalization of Irish culture over the past decade appears as an abrupt discontinuity. However, recent work on the middle decades of the twentieth century suggests that Irish culture in the 1930s and 1940s was more complex, more multiple, and more open than the prevailing view suggests, and consequently that it is possible to trace lines of continuity from the present back to the earlier period. In this regard, Robinson’s IS LIFE WORTH LIVING? emerges as a key play of the period, staging an Irish encounter with modernist European theatre in ways that suggest an audience who saw themselves within a wider world republic of letters.

Is Life Worth Living By Lennox Robinson  

LEGIT REPERTORY TROUPE COMES TO A SMALL VILLAGE in ireland and, of ibsen, chekhov and THE TOWN IS OFF ITS NUT* That, in a nutshell, is the s...