Dramatic Works of WB Yeats

Our Yeats Project, commenced in 2009, sees Blue Raincoat building our selection of dramatic works by WB Yeats on an annual basis. These will be available as a collection and as individual touring pieces in our repertoire. 

THE CAT AND THE MOON Two beggars - one blind and one lame - search for a holy well reputed to host a supernatural saint with the power to cure their afflictions. First performed in 1924.

AT THE HAWK'S WELL A one act play first performed in 1916 and published the following year. It is one of five plays by Yeats loosely based on the stories of Cuchulain, the mythological hero of ancient Ulster. It was the first play written in English that utilized many of the features of the Japanese Noh Theatre.    

In At the Hawk's Well we enounter an old man who has been climbing to a mystical well in a high and barren place every day for fifty years. He is seeking to drink the magic waters of eternal life that one day will fill the well. This day, on foot of a rumour told over too much wine a young Cuchulain has sailed from Ireland to find the enchanted well and share in its magical water.

PURGATORY The tale of a family saga played out on the site where a man's father burnt down his childhood home while drunk, and then the man killed his father. The man is filled with horror at the thought of the sins of the father passing to his son. Purgatory was first presented in at the Abbey Theatre Dublin on 19 August 1938, a few months before Yeats's death.

THE ONLY JEALOUSY OF EMER  Jealousy premiered in 1922 in Amsterdam and did not play on the Irish stage until May 1926, when it was staged by the Dublin Drama League at the Abbey Theatre. Emer's only jealousy came when Cuchulain was entranced into love with Fand, wife of Manannán mac Lir, the king of the great sea.

THE DEATH OF CUCHULAIN Eithne Inguba, Cuchulain's young mistress, comes to him with a message from his wife Emer: that he must go out and fight an invading force under Queen Maeve. Eithne also carries a letter from Emer cautioning him to await reinforcements and Eithne fears that Morrigu, the goddess of war has put the false message in her mouth. Written in 1938.

ON BAILE'S STRAND First performed in 1904 at the Abbey theatre. King Concobar, wary of Cuchulain's bravery and his unruly temper, makes Cuchulain swear an oath of obedience, forcing the unaware Cuchulain to fight and kill his own son. When informed of the truth, Cuchulain, mad with despair, runs out to fight the sea.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLEN by JM Synge In the Shadow of the Glen is a one-act play written by Irish playwright JM Synge, first performed in Molesworth Hall Dublin on October 8, 1903. It was the first play by Synge to be performed on stage. It is set in an isolated cottage in County Wicklow during the early 1900s.

CATHLEEN NÍ HOULIHAN  A one-act play written by William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1902. A nationalistic play, encouraging in its last pages that young men sacrifice their lives for the heroine Cathleen Nì Houlihan, who represents an independent and separate Irish state.              

 DREAMING OF THE BONES The Dreaming of the Bones was first produced in1931 at the Abbey theatre. This play has a fugitive from the Easter Rising meeting the spirits of Dermot and Dervorgilla on a Connaught hill. Dermot pleads for release from their curse through this young man, but he is cold and steadfast in his rejection of them. 


Photo by Steve Rogers