by Sarah Einselen
As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, Civic Players of Logansport are getting into the spirit with “The Quiet Man,” a play set in the early 1920s in Ireland just after the nation’s war for independence from Great Britain.
“The Quiet Man,” written by Frank Mahon based on the stories of Maurice Walsh, tells the story of a group of guerilla fighters from County Kerry who remain a “band of brothers” long after the fighting is over. The title role is Paddy Bawn Enright, a retired prizefighter who marries a local woman and fights her brother to earn her respect and her dowry.
It’s similar in some ways to the movie “The Quiet Man” starring John Wayne, which was also based on Walsh’s stories, according to director David Quigney.
“I have an affinity for the movie,” Quigney said, “so I’ve been looking for a script for it for a while.” But not because John Wayne was in it, he added. “It was the location that caught me first.”
Quigney, who said his heritage is half to three-fourths Irish, said he’s studied Irish Gaelic independently for about three years and has practiced a Gaelic accent for longer.
“Dad’s dad came off the boat,” he said. “There’s always been an interest in the homeland.”
But the play delves farther into the political unrest surrounding the time period in which the play’s set and develops some of the characters more fully.
“If they come to see the play expecting the movie, there are a lot of similarities, but there are a lot of differences as well,” Quigley said.
The biggest difference, he explained, is that John Wayne’s character, Sean Thornton, is nowhere to be found in the play.
He was a composite of two characters in the stories, Quigley said, who retain their separate identities in the stage version. Several other characters that were composited in the movie are differentiated in the play, he added.
The title character — who’s also the main character in the show — is played by the youngest cast member, 17-year-old Cody Kopka.
Cody, a Logansport High School junior, has appeared eight times on stage since middle school, he said. He played Judd in “Oklahoma!” for the high school’s Winter Fantasy production in November.
“It’s different being the hero than the bad guy,” Cody commented. And fighting on stage has become the most challenging part of this production, he said.
In one scene, he’s required to have an out-and-out brawl with his stage wife’s brother, Red Will O’Danaher, who refuses to release sister Ellen Roe’s dowry after her marriage.
Cody and Peter Daniel Noakes, who plays Red Will, actually exchange blows on stage — but they’ve learned their limits, they said.
“It took a lot of practice, how hard we could hit each other,” said Cody.
Being the youngest in the cast — by several years — hasn’t presented much of a challenge, Cody said.
“We all fit in together,” he explained, and many of the cast members treat him like a little brother.
“It makes it look like we really have been a band of brothers for years,” he added.
Performances of Maurice Walsh’s “The Quiet Man” will take place at McHale Performing Arts Center, 1 Berry Lane, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets for evening performances are $10 for adults or $7 for students and seniors, and all matinee tickets are $7. Call the McHale box office at 574-753-4116 for more information or to reserve a ticket.
Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.
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