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Irish playwright to present reading in new Snite art exhibit

| Thursday, September 5, 2019

Kicking off new Irish art exhibit “Looking at the Stars,” acclaimed playwright Marina Carr will present a reading in the Snite Museum of Art on Thursday afternoon.

Carr is the first in a fall speaker series hosted by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies. A native of Dublin, she is known for her modern adaptations of classical themes and has authored nearly 30 plays.

Her most famous work, “By the Bog of Cats,” has been compared to Greek tragedy, assistant director of the Keough-Naughton Institute Mary Hendriksen said.

“It’s some of the themes of the ancient Greeks, but in a modern context,” Hendriksen said.

The new exhibit where Carr will be speaking, “Looking at the Stars,” opened Aug. 17 and features a number of Irish paintings and photographs, including some from University benefactors Donald and Marilyn Keough. Pieces from the University’s collections, as well as a number of visiting works, will also be displayed.

A gallery of about 50 photographs by Alen MacWeeney will be displayed in the room where Carr will present. MacWeeney has earned praise for his work capturing the lifestyle of Irish Travellers, a traditionally nomadic Irish ethnic group, Hendriksen said.

During regular museum hours, visitors can also engage with an audio portion of the exhibit prepared by the Snite’s student interns.

“[McWeeney] recorded some of the songs and stories [of Travellers] and then the interns transcribed them,” Hendriksen said. “You can take your smartphone to the gallery and listen to some of the songs.”

Carr will be spending two weeks at Notre Dame as a writer-in-residence at the Keough-Naughton Institute teaching playwriting and creative writing to English and Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) students.

Students joined her and FTT professor Anne Garcia-Romero, english professors Susan Cannon Harris and english professor Joyelle McSweeney for a roundtable discussion Tuesday night. On Thursday, she will be leading a playwriting workshop.

“Students [will] bring a one-page monologue and actually critique each other’s work,” Hendriksen said.

While it is Carr’s first time at Notre Dame, she has partnered with the University’s Irish satellites for a number of years. She presented at Keough Naughton’s IRISH, a three-week Irish studies seminar for graduate students, in 2016. Carr has also been a guest lecturer and a summer creative writing instructor at Kylemore Abbey Global Centre, a venue for Notre Dame programming in Connemara, Ireland.

Hendriksen said she considers Carr’s writing and “Looking at the Stars” natural complements.

“Her work, herself and those paintings and photography together — it’s a whole extraordinary package,” she said.

A question-and-answer session, as well as a public reception, will follow the reading. 

Keough-Naughton’s fall speaker series will continue throughout September. On Tuesday at 3 p.m., professor of geography and archaeology at the National University of Ireland Kieran O’Conor will deliver a lecture on ancient Irish settlements in 278 Corbett Hall. 

A lecture on Irish writer John McGahern titled “The Letters of John McGahern: A Year in the Life (1970),” lead by University of Liverpool professor of Irish literature in English Frank Shovlin will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 13.

Tenor Fran O’Rourke and classical guitarist John Feely will perform songs by traditional Irish folk singer James Joyce at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 19. Both presentations will take place in the “Looking at the Stars” exhibit.

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About Mary Steurer

Mary is a senior sociology major and journalism minor from St. Louis. An aspiring religion reporter, Mary has spent the last year covering conversations about the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis at Notre Dame.

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