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The Art of Billy Roche

Wexford as the World


Edited By Kevin Kerrane

Billy Roche – musician, actor, novelist, dramatist, screenwriter – is one of Ireland’s most versatile talents. This anthology, the first comprehensive survey of Roche’s work, focuses on his portrayal of one Irish town as a microcosm of human life itself, elemental and timeless.

Among the contributors are fellow artists (Colm Tóibín, Conor McPherson, Belinda McKeon), theatre professionals (Benedict Nightingale, Dominic Dromgoole, Ingrid Craigie), and scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. Essays and interviews illuminate Roche’s musicality, his poetic use of Wexford dialect, his mythic imagination, his preoccupation with love and loss, and his relation to other Irish dramatists. Posters and photographs help to clarify Roche’s inventive use of stage space and his fictional transformation of town space.

Two selections by Billy Roche himself exemplif the range of his work. His first play, A Handful of Stars, which helped pave the way for other Irish playwrights in London, is represented here by a key scene featuring teenage rebel Jimmy Brady. And from Tales from Rainwater Pond, Roche’s recent collection, the poignant story «A Lucky Escape» is reprinted in full.


Kevin Kerrane: Introduction – Billy Roche: A Handful of Stars: Act One, Scene 3 – Billy Roche: A Lucky Escape –Billy Roche in Conversation with Conor McPherson (excerpts) – Dominic Dromgoole: Billy Roche – Benedict Nightingale: A Weekend in Wexford – Colm Tóibín: The Talk of the Town – Conor McPherson: Reflections on the Muse – Patrick Burke: The White Goddesses: An Interview with Ingrid Craigie – Larry Kirwan: A Wexford Musician – Alexander McKee: Tumbling Down and Dubliners: Tales of Two Cities – Christopher Murray: Billy Roche’s Wexford Trilogy: Space, Place, Critique – Belinda McKeon: Nearly Never Reaches: Male Friendship in the Wexford Trilogy – Martin W. Walsh: Harvest Fires and Angry Saints: Theatrical Appropriations of Celtic Festivals – Kevin Kerrane: The Cavalcaders: Billy Roche’s Signature Play – Katherine Clarke: Trojan Eddie: The Power of Laughter and Degradation – Patrick Lonergan: ‹Anything But Stand Still›: Billy Roche’s On Such As We – Úna Kealy: Stasis, Rootlessness and Violence in Lay Me Down Softly – Maureen Cech: Billy Roche’s Secular Priests – Hilary Sophrin: A Strange Sort of Allure: Transformations of Wexford in Tales from Rainwater Pond – Billy Roche: A Bibliography.