The Field by John B. Keane

04 February 2013 - 05 February 2013
13:00 - 11:00 Every Monday

glór, Causeway Link, Ennis, Co Clare
Phone: 065-6843103

Clare Says Céad Míle Fáilte
  • Hourglass Theatre Company present
  • Monday 4 February 1pm
  • Tuesday 5 February 11am
  • €16

To an Irish audience, JB Keane's The Field hardly needs an introduction.
It is, in some ways, as essential to the Irish theatrical canon as
Shakespeare's plays are to that of the English. It might be even argued that it
remains the most quintessential of Irish plays. Since its first production at
the Olympia in 1965 it has tapped into our enduring fascination with land, land
ownership, and questions of entitlement. Indeed, given the circumstances that
led to Ireland's present economic woes, what was true then seems uncannily true
now: Land not only defines what we are but who we are,  and the means by which we acquire it do not
always stand up well under scrutiny.

Keane's fearsome Bull McCabe embodies that moral ambiguity and, as a law
unto himself, challenges the civic authority of Church and State. He claims to
speak for the people, yet, in one of his ironies of character, does not flinch
from coercing them into accepting his own corrupted notions of right and wrong
with threats of violence.  Courage does
not prevail and, as a consequence, very few reputations emerge intact. Everyone
in this hard, brutal world of underhand dealing is tainted by the ensuing
conspiracy of silence, including the innocent young Leamy.  Not even the victim of the plays, murderous
assault is presented as entirely sympathetic. After all, what is William Dee
but a property developer with his plans to cover "grass and clover with
concrete"? Today such a figure has become a byword for corruption. Yet the
suggestion that he might deserve what he gets is surely a provocative one.
Keane even allows The Bull a certain grandiloquence as a defence of his
actions; though beneath it all we hear the same crude message: To the man of no
means, the ends are justifiable; the law of the land is for those who can
afford it. Since the bursting of our own property bubble in 2008, such
sentiments once again seem palpable.

Despite its time and place, The Field remains a kind of mirror,
compelling us to re-examine the questions Keane wrestles with; questions of
culpability, complicity, and moral hazard. The answers are not always
comfortable ones. They do, however, illustrate the thought-provoking power of
this great play and its continuing relevance. I hope you enjoy our presentation
of it.

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