Drama/ 1 Character, 1 Woman/ Full Length, 90 minutes
Synopsis: A Travelling Player, waiting for her train, tells tales to the unseen stationmaster, opening a Pandora’s box of love, struggle and confusion. To Allwych (or Everywoman), life is one long train ride. She spins tales of real and imagined journeys: Happy seaside trains with her daughter Shyllag. Exciting tours as a Travelling Player. Romantic and tragic trains.
Her story spans three generations of women and their lives, from Allwych’s mother, who was a young woman between the two World Wars, to Allwych in the present, after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Although partly inspired by real life events, the play concerns itself with Everywoman’s search for freedom.
Shyllag (or “Once upon a Train in Hungary”) lasts 90 mins — without an interval — and can be staged as a one woman play or performed with more players. Some scenes, e.g. station scenes, the wedding and pub scene would lend themselves to group interaction with perhaps dance/mime/music and a soundscape created by the actors.
The setting is a railway station in Limbo.
“A beguiling piece of writing.”
– The Irish Times
“A beautifully told story and Allwych is a memorable narrator. The play has great verve and energy.”
– Max Stafford-Clark, theatre director
“A vibrant and moving piece of theatre.”
– Hampstead Theatre, London
Performance rights must be secured before production
About the Playwright
: Miriam Gallagher, Irish playwright, novelist and screenwriter, studied drama in London (LAMDA). Her work, staged and screened in Ireland, London, Paris, USA, and Canada with Irish, Dutch, Finnish and Russian translations, is included in the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing
and profiled in Irish Women Writers: An A-Z Guide
(Geenwood Press). Her plays have been published in Fancy Footwork and 12 Other Plays
(Soc. Irish Playwrights) and Kalahari Blues & Other Plays
(2006). Commissions include The Ring of Mont de Balison
(Ranelagh Millenium Project); Kalahari Blues
(Galloglass Theatre Co), which toured nationwide; The Gold of Tradaree
(Clare Arts Award); The Mighty Oak of Riverwood
(Betty Ann Norton Theatre School 40 years celebration) performed at the Gate Theatre; and Fancy Footwork
(Dublin Theatre Festival). Recently her play The Parting Glass
was an international prizewinner of the Near & Far Playwrighting Contest (USA).
Miriam’s other books include Let’s Help Our Children Talk (O’Brien Press) and a novel, Song for Salamander (Trafford). She received Arts Council and European Script Fund Awards for her feature length screenplay Girls in Silk Kimonos (celebrating the Gore Booth sisters), and her film Gypsies has been screened at Irish Film Centre, Galway Film Fleadh, Foyle Film Festival, New York’s Lincoln Center, Plaza cinemas, San Francisco and at the International Children’s Film Festival at Hyderabad, India. A member of Irish PEN, Miriam has served on its committee and as vice president. She has also served on the Irish Writers Union committee, the council of the Society of Irish Playwrights, as a judge for the O.Z. Whitehead Play Competition, and on the Awards Panel for Arts and Disability Forum. She has been a guest lecturer at universities in Dublin, New York, Boston, and Pretoria, and her manuscripts are in the National Library, Dublin and film work in the Irish Film Archive.
Shyllag was first produced at Andrews Lane Theatre, Dublin, in 1993.