• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Director likes playwright’s language, characters

‘TRANSLATIONS’ opens at the Woodford Theatre on Friday night, March 24. From left are Rachel Rogers (Máire), Shayne Brakefield (Manus), Tom Phillips (Lt. Yolland) and Michael Mau (Owen) during a recent rehearsal. (Woodford Theatre photo)

Language has always attracted director Joe Ferrell to a play. It’s the rhythm and melody of Brian Friel’s “Translations” that has him back at Woodford Theatre. He appreciates this story for delving into issues of English replacing Gaelic as the language spoken by people living in a small Irish town. And says those issues remain relevant today – even though this play takes place in the summer of 1833. While “Translations” and his other plays are not well known in this country, Ferrell describes Friel as “one of the magical playwright’s of the last century.” And he describes the characters in “Translations” as “wonderfully interesting.” Having worked with Shayne Brakefield (Manus), Joe Gatton (Jimmy), Walter Tunis (Hugh) and others in this play, the longtime director knew they were up for the challenge of playing these characters. “The people we have in the play are just wonderful actors,” says Ferrell. He says they’re as good as any actors in this region and many actors performing on stages in New York City. “I’ve worked with a number of them,” he continues, “…I did not know Michael Mau, who is just so good (as Owen). And Tony Del Grosso (Doalty) is not somebody I knew either. “They’ve made just wonderful contributions.” Having previously directed plays written by Friel, including a production of “Translations” for Lexington’s now-defunct Junkyard Players in the early 1980s, Ferrell says he was anxious to delve back into the Irish playwright’s poetic language. “I would love to do another one as soon as I could,” he adds. Ferrell applauds Woodford Theatre and its willingness to produce “a play of substance” like “Translations” because serious stories with depth “are so important for audiences to appreciate,” he says. Now retired, the former college professor gets to choose productions like “Translations” to direct because they excite him.

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