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Season Info

The Clearing
By Helen Edmundson


Chad Borden, Blaise Messinger, David Rose

Director
Producer
Scenic Design
Lighting Design
Sound Design
Costume Design
Dialect Coach
Property Master
Assistant Director
Stage Manager
Light Operator
Sound Operator
House Manager
Photography
Set Construction
   Construction and Sculpture
 
 
 
 
 
 

   Scenic Artists
 
 
 

  Transportation & Grips
 
 
 

Master Electrician 
Light Rigging
 
 
 
 

Wigs
Historical Consultant 
Gaelic Consultants

 

Robert O'Reilly
Barbara Beckley
Barbara Grill
Matthew O. O'Donnell
Gary Christensen
A. Jeffrey Schoenberg
Joel Goldes
Renee Cash
Wendy Becker
John Robert Kocur
Johnathan Henning
Tara Grant
Kathleen Osmon
Robert Lapin
Stations Designs West, Inc.
Colleen Bresnahan
Daniel Cruder
Barbara Grill
Erika Grisham
Patrice Mudd
Ron Santellano
Anna Schlobohm
Gary Twemlow
Colleen Bresnahan
Kate Gaines
Erika  Grisham
Anna Schlobohm
Craig Shepard
Jaime Apine
Alfonso Chavez
Chino Perez
Abraham Sahagun
Daniel Sahagun
Michael Thayer
Richard Batt
Jeremy Bryden
J. Gabriel Holguin
Marc Krueger
Jim Matthews
Michael Slabaugh
Sugano 
Robert Ryan
Dennis Doyle
Tim Martin
CHARACTERS
(in order of appearance)

Killaine Farrell
Pierce Kinsellagh
Solomon Winter
Susaneh Winter
Robert Preston
Madeleine Preston
Sir Charles Sturman
A Commissioner of Transportation,
A Sailor, An Appeal Judge

Faith Salie
Timothy O’Hare
Blaise Messinger
Alison Shanks
David Rose
Denise Dillard
Chad Borden

Robert Budaska
 

SETTING
County Kildare, Ireland

ACT ONE

Scene One:

Scene Two:
Scene Three:
Scene Four:
Scene Five:
Scene Six:
Scene Seven:
 

Autumn, 1652.  By a chestnut tree in the garden of a
Manor House
In the drawing room, the following day
In the drawing room, that night
The Governor’s office, Kildare
The drawing room, the following day
The drawing room at Rathconran House
By a tree in the garden
ACT TWO
Scene One:
Scene Two:
Scene Three:
Scene Four:
Scene Five:
Scene Six:
Scene Seven:
Scene Eight:
Scene Nine.
Scene Ten:
Scene Eleven:
Scene Twelve:
Scene Thirteen:
Scene Fourteen:
Scene Fifteen:
Scene Sixteen:
Christmas, 1653.  In the village.
In the drawing room in the Manor House.
The Commission of Transplantation: Athy.
In the woods at the back of the Manor.
In the Manor House.
The Governor’s office, Kildare.
The drawing room in the Manor House.
On the deck of “The Providence.” Waterford.
Summer, 1654.  The Governor’s office, Kildare.
In the garden of the Manor House.
The Court of Appeal: Athy.
The Court of Appeal: Athy.
The drawing room of the Manor House.
The hallway of the Rathconran House.
A Tory camp on the edge of the Wicklow hills.
Autumn, 1655.  In a clearing, in a wood.
 There will be one 15 minute intermission.

Historical Notes
on The Clearing

Ever since the 12th Century, England made frequent attempts to conquer and rule Ireland, first entering the country in 1170 during the reign of Henry II. Over the ensuing centuries they expanded their foothold by fits and starts, by war and marriage, and by generally adapting to local law and custom. In the 16th century, under Henry VIII, the pace of conquest accelerated — more and more English were settled on Irish land seized by various means. Under his daughter, Elizabeth I, the subtle weapon of English Common Law began to supplant the traditional Irish Brehon Law, which had prevented the imposition of feudal hierarchy on the tribally organized Irish. (It is ironic that the Brehon Laws, which provided more rights to women than any code existing prior to the 20th century, were stamped out by the strongest woman in English history. Madeleine Preston's fierce independence in The Clearing is typical of Irish women of the time, just as Robert Preston's dismay is a typical Englishman's reaction to it.)

By 1640, the political situation in England had become dangerous. The Stuart dynasty was widely believed to desire the return of Roman Catholicism. Parliament was increasingly under the control of the Puritans. In 1642 the English Civil War broke out between Charles I and Parliament. English settlers now joined with Irish rebels in the Irish Confederacy, supporting the king as their best hope of Irish independence and religious freedom. (The character Solomon Winter is one such English settler.)

For nearly a decade, the war was waged in both England and Ireland. Then Charles I met his fate and the headsman's axe. This meant that Oliver Cromwell was at last able to turn his direct attention toward Ireland. He arrived at the head of a large army in August, 1649. The Irish armies fought hard to defend their country, but were finally forced to surrender. The surviving 40,000 young Irish soldiers and their officers were exiled to Europe to seek service in the Irish Brigades of such countries as France and Spain. By 1652, when The Clearing opens, Cromwell's conquest of Ireland was complete.
 

With their armies gone, the Irish found themselves without protection. Irish guerrilla bands were formed and fought back in desperation, personified in the play by the character Pierce Kinsellagh. They came to be known as toiridhe, the Irish word for a pursuer, better known as the Tories (a word we Americans associate only with the American royalists of a century later). But to no avail. Ireland was flooded with English soldiers. Suspected Tories, Catholic priests, and Presbyterian ministers were executed on the spot without trial. Thousands of Irish men, women, and children were arbitrarily seized and transported to the colonies in the Americas, particularly to Barbados. The descendants of former English colonists, who had adopted the Irish language and accepted Irish law and customs, were classified as “mere Irish” by the new English administration, and were treated in a similar manner.

English soldiers were paid for either the head of a wolf (then regarded as one of the great pests in Ireland) or the head of an Irish “rebel.” The soldiers, being lazy, resorted to bringing to their officers just the scalps of the Irish. (The system was so successful that it was introduced into the American colonies, where colonists were paid to bring in the scalps of Indians. The Indians thought this had religious symbolism, and copied it to acquire the white man's medicine. White man's history of America now erroneously claims “scalping” as an exclusively Indian custom.)

The final enactment of legislative genocide against the Irish took place in the House of Commons on September 26, 1653. The Act of Transplantation was breathtaking in its intent. By May 1st of the following year, all members of the Irish nation were to remove themselves west of the River Shannon into the area of County Clare and the province of Connaught, the poorest and most inhospitable region of the island, a wasteland where famine was still raging. If any Irish man, woman, or child was found east of the River Shannon after that date, they could be immediately executed. The choice was “Hell or Connaught!”

All the land east of the Shannon, once the Irish had been removed into their “reservation,” was to be parcelled out to capitalists who had financed the conquest of Ireland, and to soldiers and other settlers who would create a “New England” in Ireland. The Irish nation would no longer exist.

To ensure the Irish were obeying these orders, on March 9, 1655, Charles Fleetwood, Lord Deputy and Commander-in-Chief of the English occupation forces in Ireland, ordered that all the passes over the Shannon were to be closed, so that the area of Connaught and County Clare was blocked off by the military. Then he ordered a general search for all Irish who had remained east of the Shannon, with obvious results. Along every road, hanging bodies could be seen bearing placards: “For Not Transplanting.”

Ireland was reduced to desolation: a third of the population was dead, a third dispossessed and either exiled to Connaught or transported to Barbados. All were disenfranchised. Only the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 halted the worst excesses of the Cromwellian conquest.

None of this is considered remote history in Ireland, and the collective memory of these events continues to fuel the conflict that exists in that country to this day. The story goes that an English journalist coming on a gunfight between English soldiers and the IRA on the Falls Road in the early 1970s, asked an old man who was standing nearby: “When did it start?” The old man replied: “When Strongbow invaded Ireland.” Perplexed, the reporter pressed on: “When do you think it will finish?” The old man did not hesitate: “When Cromwell gets out of hell!”

— From an essay by Peter Berresford Ellis, 
     With additional contributions by Robert Ryan

Additional Notes

  • The 1641 Massacre of English Settlers, vividly described by Sir Charles Sturman in The Clearing, never happened. Even though it was accepted as absolute fact for over three centuries, contemporary historians have concluded that no credible evidence exists that it was anything more than a minor skirmish, grossly exaggerated by the English for political purposes.
  • In 1830, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, thus institutionalizing a policy voiced by President Andrew Jackson in his 1829 inaugural address. Its purpose was to force all Indians remaining in the eastern states to move west of the Mississippi. One result was the infamous and tragic "Trail of Tears," the 800 mile migration of the Cherokee nation from Georgia and Tennesee to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Conditions were so deplorable on the journey that a great many died of exposure, disease, and starvation. Andrew Jackson was a first generation Irish American. Some historians have speculated that the Removal Act was inspired, at least in part, by Jackson's almost certain knowledge of Cromwell's Act of Transplantation.
  • Between 1652 and 1659, tens of thousands of Irish men, women, and children were transported to Barbados as indentured servants. Conditions were so brutal that many did not survive, and there is no record of any Irish person returning after the term of servitude expired. However, their legacy continues in the abundance of Irish surnames to be found among present day Barbados natives.

 

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