Dublin Lyric
Prisoner of the Crown

Prisoner of the Crown — 9 to 11 April 2024

A staged reading of the play written by Richard F. Stockton

Poster for 'Prisoner of the Crown' Poster for the staged readings in April 2024

Dublin Lyric presented a staged reading of Prisoner of the Crown by Richard F. Stockton in April 2024.

The play concerns the trial of the last knight of the British realm hanged for high treason. It takes place in the jury room at the Old Bailey and elsewhere in the minds of twelve jurors, who re-enact key events during their deliberation. The play also addresses what happened after the original jury trial.

The play was originally premiered by the Abbey Theatre in February 1972 and revived by the Abbey later that year. While there were later iterations of the play presented in the USA, this presentation uses the original version from 1972.

This production of Richard Stockton's play, which is based on a story idea by Richard T. Herd, was presented in the LexIcon Library and Cultural Centre, Dún Laoghaire, Dublin from Tuesday 9 to Thursday 11 April 2024.

In his Irish Times review of the original production, David Nowlan said: Prisoner of the Crown will make one of the best evenings the Abbey has given us for years. Even on the evidence of last night, however, it is already a play and a production which will make compulsively interesting theatre and politics for the Irish and it should, of course, be compulsory viewing for the English. For us it might only be entertainment; for them, it should be an education.

There are 12 parts mirroring the 12 members of the jury. In the play, the jurors also take on other roles including that of Casement himself. Other figures depicted include senior figures from the British legal, administrative and political establishment; also intelligence officers, the prison governor and guards, US senators, and a catholic priest. At the original trial, all the jurors were men, but for this production, some of those characters were played by men and women.

Hard-hitting and candid, the play reveals the inner workings of the British judicial system as it operated during the height of the First World War; and how the reputation of the earliest of the 20th century's most internationally renowned human rights champions was brought down by the deployed weaponry of scandal, misinformation and fake news. A play for all times, especially ours.

A longer version of this edited video discussion on Prisoner of the Crown is available to view here.

Actors & Characters in the play
the cast play the jurors and a range of other parts

Joe Ruane - juror and Roger Casement
Declan Brennan - juror and Sir Frederick Smith
Michael O'Sullivan - juror, Sergeant Sullivan, US Senator, Home Secretary Samuel
Sharon Coade - juror and Captain Hall
Jacqueline Carroll - juror, Sir Ernley Blackwell and US Senator
Martin Gallagher - juror, Sir Basil Thompson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Governor
Siún O'Kane - juror, Narrator, various Clerks, Sentry
David Rowlands - juror, Fr. Ryan and US Senator
Béibhinn Whelan - juror, Bailey and Dr. Morgan
Craig Leinster - juror, Neil soldier, Guard
Caleb Ballantine - juror, Narrator, Inspector Quinn, Guard, Soldier Robinson
Frank Lonergan - juror and Lord Reading

Additional roles were played by some of the actors throughout the play.

Casement Summer School 2024

One of the presentations given at the Roger Casement Summer School, on Saturday 27 April 2024, was by the director of this Dublin Lyric staged reading, Conor O'Malley. A copy of the presentation made on that day in the Eblana Club, Dun Laoghaire, is available in a PDF here.

Audio and video recordings

Some recordings of the performances were made for archival purposes and to assist the work of researchers. To request access to these recordings, please send an email to Dublin Lyric using the form on the Contact page.

The image at the top of this page is taken from Sir John Lavery's painting, 'The Court of Criminal Appeal. London. 1916. (Roger Casement)'. Copyright & image © Hugh Lane Gallery. Vist the gallery website for more on that painting, and others that were part of a 2016 exhibition commemoratring the 1916 Easter Rising.


Pull Down a Horseman

The secret meeting that agreed the date for the Easter 1916 Rising

From January to November 2016, Dublin Lyric brought a series of presentations of Eugene McCabe's play Pull Down a Horseman to several venues, including Áras an Uachtaráin.

The play is about a secret meeting, between Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), which is known to have taken place in mid January 1916. Top of the agenda on the week of the meeting was a discussion about plans for the Rising and agreement on a date for it.

The play depicts a private discussion between Pearse and Connolly during the three days on which the meeting is known to have taken place — 19 to 21 January 1916. The outcome was that Connolly joined the IRB and committed the Citizen Army to join with the Volunteers and a date was finally set for the Rising.

The meeting has a basis in fact, with Connolly 'invited' — some argue 'kidnapped' — to join the most senior members of the IRB leadership, who wanted to convince him to join their efforts. The short one-act play is packed with historical detail, based on both the writings and known views of the two protagonists. Their arguments and ideas are pitched against each other in dramatic fashion.

The first presentations of the play were in January 2016 in Booterstown Community Centre and in the dlr LexIcon Library in Dun Laoghaire. These performances coincided with the 100th Anniversary of the three day meeting.

Visit the Productions section for more about the play, past performances, and lots more background information including photos, videos, interviews and historical articles.

Pull Down a Horseman was written by the Monaghan based playwright, Eugene McCabe for the 50th Anniversary of the Rising in 1966 and was later presented in the Abbey Theatre. The play has been regularly revived over the decades and has endured to become a classic of Irish political theatre.

While the play is based on historical research, no one knows for certain what happened at this meeting. However, as the two characters discuss, debate, argue and verbally joust with one another over whether and when to go ahead with the Rising, a fascinating insight into the two characters emerges. They were two very different people — intellectually well matched, but with very different political philosophies and perspectives.

The production, which was grant assisted by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council as part of the 1916-2016 Commemoration programme, was directed by Conor O'Malley. Patrick Pearse was played by Declan Brennan and James Connolly was played by MJ Sullivan.

The Performers

In April 2005 Dublin Lyric was formed around a group of people who shared an interest in presenting Irish poetic drama. From that beginning, the group has grown and with it the range of works undertaken.

The full story of Dublin Lyric, what it's about, where it came from and who is behind it is told on the About page.

The Productions

The first plays performed by the group were by the Irish poet and dramatist William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). In all, eleven of his plays were produced by Dublin Lyric in its first four years. Many of these were works that are performed infrequently or very rarely.

The repertoire has not been confined to Yeats. A full list of the works presented by Dublin Lyric is on the Productions page.

Newsletter Mailing List

If you wish to be informed about forthcoming shows, visit our Mailing List page where you can add your email address. Should your address change, that page also allows you to remove the old and add the new email address.


Galileo telescope

The story behind this play presented in 'The Atrium' at the headquarters of the Office of Public Works 51, St Stephen's Green, Dublin from Monday 13 to Friday 17 July 2009 and pictures taken at one of the performances are on a special 'Galileo' page within the Productions page.

Have a look and see why Galileo caused such a storm 400 years ago with this telescope!

Lecture at Sean O'Casey Summer School

Page to Stage

A lecture entitled, 'From Printed Page to Performance - Sean O'Casey's Within the Gates' by Dr. Conor O'Malley, was presented at the Open University of Ireland 'Sean O'Casey Summer School' on Saturday 22 May 2010.

The lecture covered the process of bringing the Dublin Lyric production of 'Within the Gates' to the Larkin Room, Liberty Hall in April 2010.

A copy of the lecture is available here as a PDF file.


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