22.9 x 14.5 cm. xvi, 91 pp. 1979
The Harvest Festival is Sean O’Casey’s earliest extant play. Written in about 1918 or 1919, it was the second play that O’Casey offered the Abbey Theatre. It was turned down, but he kept the manuscript and it now forms part of the extensive O’Casey archive in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. It has never been performed, and this is its first publication in the U.K. and Ireland, following on its U.S. publication by only a few months.
The plot focuses on the turmoil of an outside world of strikes and riots converging on a Dublin city church in the midst of its preparations for a harvest festival. Set in 1913, it deals with Irish workers’ battles against economic oppression and religious hypocrisy, with that vital combination of passion, humour and pathos that distinguishes O’Casey’s later plays. It is a rich melodrama of class struggle, with ironically pointed clashes involving representatives of Church, Employers and Labour.
An incomplete revision of the first act, which O’Casey kept with the original manuscript, is included as an Appendix to show the direction the playwright might have gone had he chosen to revise the entire play: as it is, students of drama will see in The Harvest Festival the seeds of O’Casey’s later works, and the lineal descendants of its characters appear in Red Roses for Me, The Drums of Father Ned, and The Bishop’s Bonfire.
Eileen O’Casey has contributed a foreword entitled ‘Clench Your Teeth’, and John O’Riordan has written an Introduction.
A three-quarter leather edition with wood veneer panels, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt, intended to be limited to 50 copies, ISBN 0-86140-052-6, signed by the writers of the Foreword and Introduction, Eileen O'Casey and John O'Riordan, was also published, but of the 50 copies only 30 were actually bound.More info →