The Second Girl
by Ronan Noone
directed by Campbell Scott
originally produced at Huntington Theatre Company,
January 16, 2015
through February 21, 2015
With Eugene O'Neill's classic Long Day's Journey into Night as a backdrop, The Second Girl is set in the downstairs world of the Tyrone family kitchen in August 1912. Two Irish immigrant servant girls and the chauffeur search for love, success, and a sense of belonging in their new world in this lyrical and poignant world premiere by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Ronan Noone (Brendan, The Atheist) and directed by Campbell Scott (The Atheist).
Any immigrant’s story is a tale of severance, loss, and redemption. How are we defined by what we left behind? What becomes possible in this new home? Irish-American writer Ronan Noone explores these questions with uncommon grace and charm in his newest play, The Second Girl.
The play uses Eugene O'Neill's classic Long Day's Journey into Night as a backdrop; Ronan’s The Second Girl is set in the downstairs world of the Tyrone family kitchen in August 1912. Bridget and Cathleen, two Irish immigrant servant girls, and Jack, the Tyrone family’s chauffeur, search for love, success, and a sense of belonging in his lyrical and poignant new play.
The Second Girl marks the reunion of playwright Ronan Noone and acclaimed theatre artist Campbell Scott, who joins this project as director. Mr. Scott performed a workshop reading of Ronan’s monologue play, The Atheist, in 2006 before appearing in a full production at the Huntington the following year. The Huntington’s production subsequently played the Barrow Street Theatre in New York in the fall of 2007, where it received both Drama Desk and Drama League Acting nominations, and played at the Williamstown Theatre Festival the following summer.
As Ronan’s Brendan did before, The Second Girl explores the immigrant experience in early 20th century America, this time through the sharp lenses of Bridget, Cathleen and Jack. This new work intimately explores the longings of the working class characters seen briefly or only referenced by name from one of the 20th century’s greatest dramas. The yearnings for social advancement are at times heartbreaking in their looming failure but the characters also turn to each other for comfort. Like the Tyrone family, Bridget struggles with alcohol; Bridget’s niece Cathleen sees her cross-Atlantic engagement to an Irish paramour broken, deepening her cynicism. Their familial ties are at times strained but also provide the only connective tissue that grants them strength.
Through its exploration of characters seen briefly, or mentioned only in passing, in an acknowledged American classic, Ronan achieves a deeper appreciation of the source material while also magnifying the class dynamics that underpin both works. According to Ronan, “The Second Girl is the reason I began writing plays. It tells an immigrant American story about what it means to come to America and what America means to so many. It is a thrill to have this play go up in my hometown and at the Huntington Theatre Company, and it is tremendous to be working with Campbell Scott again."
One of Ronan’s great gifts is the ability to write about the Irish immigration experience. In this play he brings out the humanity and drama of what it means to leave family behind and find one’s footing in the early days in a new country. It was important to Ronan that the play start in Boston, not only because it’s his artistic home, but also because Boston was a major entry point for the massive wave of Irish immigration that influences the city to this day.
The Huntington produced a well-received reading of the play, with direction by Campbell Scott, in January 2014 as part of its Breaking Ground Festival of new play readings, and committed to its addition to the upcoming season shortly thereafter. In his stage directions, Ronan says that “most scenes with Bridget and Cathleen are concerned with the constant movement in preparation for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while they discuss the day… The transitions during scenes should be filled with their labors. This acknowledges time passing, duties completed, and a growing submission to their world.” The extra week of rehearsal that we are requesting will be critical in preparing the cast to naturally replicate the choreography and timing of the kitchen labor as part of the creation of the complex physical world onstage.
Director: Campbell Scott
Set Design: Santo Loquasto
Lighting Design: James F. Ingalls
Sound Design: Ben Emerson
Costume Design: Santo Loquasto
Additional creative team: Katie Ailinger (Production Stage Manager), Alaine Alldaffer (Casting), Robert Allison (Scenic Artist), Andrew Auyong (Assistant to the Lighting Designer), Emily Bearce (Electrics Crew), Greg Bird (Carpenter), Dan Biser (Electrics Crew), Nancy Brennan (Costume Director), Amelia Broome (Dialect Coach), Victoria Bullard (Carpenter), Todd Burgun (Shop Foreman), Andrew Cancellieri (Carpenter), Anita Canzian (Head Draper), Evey Connerty-Marin (Electrics Crew), Emily Crochetiere (Electrics Crew), Larry Dersch (Master Carpenter), Andrew Deshazo (Properties Run), Kelli Edwards (Dance Consultant), Jess Elliott (Electrics Crew), Virginia Emerson (Assistant Costume Director) Abe Fleischer (Electrics Crew), Bethany Ford (Associate Production Manager), Milosz Gassan (Carpenter), Sacha Glasser (Carpenter), Adam Godbout (Associate Technical Director), Mark Griffith (Carpenter), Alisa Hartle (Assistant Master Electrician), Madeline Harvey (Carpenter), Nick Hernon (Carpenter), Katherine Herzig (Master Electrician), Kristine Holmes (Properties Master), Rebecca Hylton (First Hand), Aja Jackson (Electrics Crew), Michelle T. Johnson (Draper), Liv Joyce (Scenic Artist), J. Jumbelic (Sound Engineer), Katie Kenna (First Hand), Jisun Kim (Assistant Set Designer), Kristine Krause (Charge Scenic Artist), Christian Lambrecht (Carpenter), Mary Lauve (Costume Design Assistant), RJ LaMura (Electrics Crew), Margaret Lorinczi (Electrics Crew), Annie Le (Carpenter), Christine Marr (Wardrobe Coordinator), Thomas Martin (Assistant to the Director), Gordon Mason (Electrics Crew), Paul Mayer (Carpenter), Caitlin Menotti (Stitcher), Susie Moncousky (Hair and Wig Run), Devin Mooney (Carpenter), Jeremiah Mullane (Stage Manager), Dan Olesky (Assistant Technical Director), Ian Owens (Carpenter), Samantha Pagnotta (Lead Scenic Artist), Jeffrey Petersen (Props Artisan), Dan Ramirez (Technical Director), Eleanor Richards (Carpenter), Ricky Roman (Carpenter), Justin Seward (Assistant Properties Master), Ian Thorsell (Properties Artisan), Paul Timmel (Electrics Crew), Sarah Wallace (Production Assistant), Denise M. Wallace-Spriggs (Costom Crafts Artisan/Dyer), Dan Walsh (Stage Carpenter), Jesse Washburn (Scenery Mechanic), Todd Williams (Production Manager), Charlie Winter (Assistant Lighting Designer),Jess Wolf (Production Assistant), Forrest Wood (Carpenter)
Cast: Christopher Donahue, Kathleen McElfresh, MacKenzie Meehan