Emiliano Aguilar ’15 – As our week abroad drew to a close, the other students and I were given an opportunity to choose our own learning experience in Dublin on Saturday. With half a day ahead of us, we had plenty of time to fill with different activities around the city.
Earlier in the day, I had toured the Dublin Writer’s museum. Of course, the museum included sections on James Joyce, who we had learned quite a bit about already, but it also featured sections on other authors linked to the city. I found a very interesting section on George Bernard Shaw and his theater productions, including his links to a famous theater in Dublin named the Abbey Theatre.
I had already decided to attend a play at the Abbey later that night, and luckily it was one of Shaw’s own plays: Major Barbara. It was neat to roam the museum and see the handwritten notes of Shaw when I would be seeing his work brought to life by experts a few hours later.
Professors Lamberton and Szczeszak-Brewer joined me that night for the Saturday night production. Other than Wabash plays, I had never been to the theater before that night, and Professor Lamberton warned me that the Abbey would “ruin me for other theater.”
She wasn’t wrong; from the very start, the cast and crew of Major Barbara put on a show worth remembering. The play explores poverty, religion, and charity, all which play major roles in the James Joyce pieces that we have read and will read this upcoming semester. In fact, the character of Barbara has a personal moral debate that is very similar to a debate that Stephen Dedalus has in Joyce’s The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
The Abbey itself can be an imposing building; the Theatre started in 1904 in Dublin, and has been active ever since, playing host to some of Ireland’s most famous playwrights and writers. Though the original building burned down some 60 years ago, the current location is still impressive. Modern pillars and walls of glass dominate the front of the prestigious Theatre, and it is located in the very heart of Dublin.
In the end, I feel blessed to have spent my free Saturday in Dublin at the Abbey. Walking through the doors was like paying a visit to some of Dublin’s greatest literary history, and everything about the play was professional. My only regret is a small one: they don’t allow pictures in the Abbey, so I couldn’t take a snapshot to bring home and admire in the years to come.