My father John O'Shea, a retired teacher was also a highly regarded theatre producer and director in Cork, Ireland since the 1960's. He was involved in a theatre circle that brought cutting-edge and ecclectic drama to Cork, Ireland's perpetual second city, at a time when Ireland was often a culturally stultifying, suspicious environment. My father came back from an unofficial retirement from theatre to direct what might be his last; a tribute to honour his friend, colleague and mentor Dan Donovan. Dan, now 82 is a well loved Cork teacher, actor, iconoclast and general 'personality' whose biography gave occasion to this tribute night, portrayed in these photos. 20 or so years ago Dan, my father and a number of other individuals resurrected an old cinema to its former glory as a theatre, named The Everyman Palace, now overseen by Pat Talbot, whose idea it was to stage the tribute. The evening consisted of some introductory words from Senator Eoghan Harris and Pat Talbot followed by an interview between Pat Butler and Dan. Dan and a number of long-standing colleagues (including my mother) went on to act out a number of short scenes from plays in which they had acted over the years which had special resonance for many, including Robert Bolt's Man for All Seasons and John B. Keane's Sharon's Grave. My father introduced each scene with some context setting and the actors made do with a simple set, consisting of two rostra, a plain backdrop and not much else. Given the practical constraints of staging such a miscellany, it wasn't possible (or even, perhaps necessary?) for the actors to change costumes between scenes.
The title of this gallery comes from a line from the Beckett play "Krapp's Last Tape", words that make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and fill my belly with hot coals:
"Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn't want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn't want them back."