Sam McCready, associate professor of theater at UMBC, will direct the American premiere of a new play by Irish playwright Christina Reid at a three-day international Irish arts festival at the State University of New York at Binghamton.
The Belfast writer's "Joyriders" will be the highlight of the "Northern Ireland: Cultural Counterpoint" conference at Binghamton being held at the university's Anderson Center for the Arts from Jan. 24 through 26.
The play will be staged by Binghamton's Theater Department with Irish actress Amanda Hurwitz in the lead role.
McCready, who was born in Ulster, was formerly the artistic director of Belfast's major theater, the Lyric.
"Floyd C. Herzog, director of the Anderson Center went to Northern Ireland in 1989 and was so impressed by the theaters and the arts there," said McCready, "he made arrangements to hold a festival of Northern Ireland works at the university.
"The play 'Joyriders' is by a woman and that is exciting. There are very few female dramatists in Ireland," he said.
Reid has won numerous awards for her plays including the British UTV Drama Award. "The playwright has drawn heavily on Sean O'Casey for her inspiration," said McCready. "In 'Joyriders' teen-agers get caught up in the civil strife. The play is set in a poor working class Catholic area known as Divis Flats.
"It is a high unemployment area and the center of IRA activity," he said. "The trouble with the young people is boredom. They steal cars and go joy riding. The major problem with this is if they come through checkpoints the army and the police will shoot at them thinking they are terrorists.
"The play really focuses on the quality of life of these young people and the tragedy they encounter in living between the government and the terrorists."
"The drama is leavened with the humor and resilience of these young people trapped in a ghetto situation," he observed. "The theme is universal.
For performance times and ticket prices for "Joyriding" and information on other conference activities, call Binghamton's Anderson Center for the Arts at 607-777-ARTS.