This weekend saw the return of the Scene and Heard festival of new work, 2018 to Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. The festival originally began on February 14th  and ran until the beginning of March. Unfortunately, the Beast from the East reared it’s ugly (or beautiful, whichever way you want to look at it) head and the city of Dublin shut down. Thus, the final days of the festival were cancelled. Luckily for theatre lovers across the city, the shows were rescheduled for the first two weekends in April.

Last Saturday night saw the main space in Smock Alley filled with both music and the powerful, emotionally charged ‘From the River of Ghosts’, A play written and performed by Roger Gregg and directed by Angel Hannigan. The play brought the audience on a journey back to twentieth-century America in a valley town in Ohio and the historical account of the life of three generations. With themes including discrimination, homosexuality, mental health and “being a left-handed guy in a right-handed world”.

The story chronicles the lives of one family from their arrival in America at the beginning of the twentieth century to present day. Original Musical interludes are presented throughout the show with a range of instruments including a tenor saxophone, slide guitar, keyboard and a waterphone. The show begins with a home movie, a theme that continues throughout with pictures and home movies displayed throughout allowing the audience connect to those in the story. The one-man show is an autobiographical tale of his ancestors and their life living in mid-western America through the Ku Klux Klan inequality, homophobia, and abuse at the hands of the school nun, all at the time having to be accepted as “just part of life”. 

A promotional image for the production featuring the writer and performer of the play, Roger Gregg.

As the lights came up it was evident the powerful depiction of the stories told throughout had a lasting effect on the audience. It is safe to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. One audience member told the circular “The play was a wonderful insight into the history of ‘the real America’. The one-man show was clearly very personal but dealt with the universal issues of family values and discrimination. I thought the journey the audience was brought on was exciting, engaging and heart-warming”.

Roger Gregg is an award-winning musician, playwright, actor and composer from Ohio in the United States. He is the founder and artistic director of the Crazy Dog audio theatre and has written plays for a number of companies including Dublin Youth Theatre, The Gaiety School of Acting and Grafitti Theatre Company.  In 1998, he founded Crazy Dog Audio Theatre, whose productions have twice won the American Mark Time Award for Best Audio Science Fiction Production, in 1999 and in 2000.

The Scene and Heard Festival began in 2016. In its first year, the festival presented 85 pieces of new work to a collective audience of 4, 800 people over the course of the festival. The new work staged throughout the festival includes music, dance, theatre, comedy and spoken word.

To hear more about Roger Gregg’s ‘From the River of Ghosts’ listen here or for more information on the Scene and Heard festival of new work visit SmockAlley.com.