Our most ambitious production to date is a full professional production of Brian Friel’s The Enemy Within. Starring Donegal native Seán McGinley in the lead role of Columba/Colmcille, the production is one the key events in the Colmcille 1500, which celebrates the life and legacy of Colmcille 1500 years from his birth.
Directed by fellow Donegal native Caitríona McLaughlin, the newly announced Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre, the production will welcome in person audiences to An Grianán, and will also be available to watch as a digital production from home.
A major early work by Friel, who made Donegal his home, The Enemy Within examines a period in the life of Colmcille as a mature man, having worked in his ministry for many years and settled in his monastery in Iona yet still subject to the demands of his turbulent family clan in Donegal. The action takes place in Columba’s room or cell, in the Autumn of 587, on the island of Iona, off the West coast of Scotland.
The stellar cast also includes Liam Carney, Bosco Hogan, Ciaran McGlynn, Charlie Bonner, Sean Donegan, Francis Harkin, Ronan Carr, Jack Quinn and Aidan Moriarty.
“This is a beautiful play and I am thrilled at the prospect of getting to direct my first Brian Friel play at home,” said Caitríona McLaughlin. “It feels very special and important both personally and thematically. The themes of exile are all too familiar, just now, and the notion of battling conflicting thoughts, impulses or loyalties is a large part of the human condition, and particularly in Ireland. This forced time of reflection through Covid has had an impact on all of us and this opportunity for an exploration of that part of the human psyche feels timely and valuable right now. Plus of course we get to do this production as part of a Country wide celebration of St. Columba and 1500 years since his birth. A singular figure who has the kind of passion, drive and commitment we see today in the tenacity of our artists and sports heroes.”
Brian Friel was one of Ireland’s greatest ever playwrights. Born in Omagh and educated at St Columb’s College, Derry, and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he studied for a career in the priesthood. Instead of going into the church he followed his father’s example into teaching, working at schools in and around Derry in the 1950s. In 1967 he moved to Donegal, where he lived, with his wife Anne, until his death in October 2015. His first stage success was in 1964 with Philadelphia, Here I Come! and his plays since then include The Freedom of the City (1973), Volunteers (1975), Translations (1980) Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) and Molly Sweeney (1994). Translations was also the first production for the important and influential Field Day theatre company, which Friel founded with the actor Stephen Rea.
Also widely known as St. Columba, Colmcille was born on the 7th of December 521 in Gartan, which is ten miles from Letterkenny in County Donegal. A Christian Abbot and Missionary, he is renowned for the spread of Christianity to Scotland, and the founding of the famous monastery on Iona. He was a great great grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, the High king of Ireland. He is the patron saint of Derry, Ulster, Scotland and one of the three patron saints of Ireland.
Funding for this show comes from the Arts Council of Ireland, Creative Ireland, Donegal County Council and Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
Donegal County Council and Derry City & Strabane District Council have come together, with support from the North West Development Fund, to commemorate Colmcille’s remarkable life and legacy with a series of events and activities throughout the coming year.
Our current guidelines for attending shows at An Grianán Theatre.
- Please note that under current Covid guidelines all adults attending shows must provide proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated under 18s must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult.
- The use of face coverings is mandatory (under 12s exempt) in all areas of An Grianán Theatre and during the show.
- Latecomers may not be admitted.
- Please have your e-ticket downloaded to your device prior to arriving at the venue and ready on your phone for scanning. You can also present a printed copy instead if you prefer.
- If you or any member of your party have had symptoms of COVID-19 in the 10 days prior to an event we would ask that you do not visit the venue and instead contact Box Office by phone or email.
AN GRIANÁN THEATRE SAFETY MEASURES
- Contactless e-ticketing
- Social-distanced queuing, audience areas and staging
- One-way systems
- COVID-19 safety signage
- Hand-sanitizer dispensers throughout the building
- Wearing of face coverings by all administration and technical staff
- All patrons (except under 12s) to wear face coverings
- Contact tracing
NB: guidelines are subject to change at short notice.