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The Passion of the Playboy Riots

  • The Hen and Chickens Theatre 109 Saint Paul's Road London, England, N1 2NA United Kingdom (map)

JUN 27 - JUL 8

Tuesday – Saturday, 7.30pm (matinees 3pm on Saturdays), 50 mins



New play The Passion of the Playboy Riots is based on the published writings of W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, who founded the Irish Literary Theatre, and Patrick Pearse, a charismatic but troubled schoolteacher and the first of the leaders of the Easter Rising to face the firing squad. It tells the true story of the role played by theatre in the origins of the IRA. 

Can art be propaganda? Can propaganda be art?

The Passion of the Playboy Riots is set backstage during performances of ground-breaking Irish plays: Cathleen ni Hoolihan in 1902, The Playboy of the Western World in 1907 and The Plough and the Stars in 1926. Yeats and Lady Gregory want to raise the profile and status of Irish culture in support of the campaign for Home Rule, and to support the best new Irish writers. They are shocked when Pearse and others accuse them of being unpatriotic and insufficiently Irish.

As we strive to predict the effects of Brexit on the Northern Ireland Peace Process, the Scottish independence movement, and on the rise of popular nationalism across Europe, the lessons of the Irish experience a century ago could hardly be more relevant.

Northern-Irish Catholic-raised actor Justin McKenna is delighted to be playing Patrick Pearse, seen by many as the embodiment of the 1916 Easter Rising. "You don't need to be an expert in Irish history to follow the story. It’s about three real people and their relationships, hopes and ambitions. The historical detail is in the background and, like all Irish history, it’s fascinating and sometimes surprising.”

Writer Neil Weatherall previously worked for a major defence contractor as their liaison with the Prime Minister's Office, the Cabinet Office, Home Office, Foreign Office and related agencies. In 2010 he served with the RAF Regiment in an intelligence role in Kandahar, Afghanistan. This is his second play.


“Funny, taut and thought-provoking” Professor R. F. Foster, author of W. B. Yeats: A Life


Earlier Event: June 27
Lonely Planet
Later Event: June 28