By Graham Pilotte
As the Abbey Theatre intern for this summer, sitting in the theatre was something I had grown used to. Seeing my friends from all over the city filling the red seats of the Abbey mainstage audience, though, was surreal. Many of these interns and summer program attendees had theatre experience; many others had none. But very few of us had ever seen “Shadow of a Gunman,” a classic Irish play and part of a three-part series by Sean O’Casey. The play explores universal themes of truth and honor through the Irish War of Independence. Watching the show in a group made for a truly unique experience, and one that was still sparking conversation days later.
Moving to a new place and a new culture can usually make for a confusing beginning – and middle, and end. Expatriates, for example, often find themselves discovering new “bits and bobs” about a culture up until the very day they leave. Even in an increasingly accessible globe, and even to the most experienced travelers, these differences can feel huge and scary. This is why theatre like the Abbey exists – to help everyone learn about what makes Ireland unique, and why its history, culture, and people matter. And if enough groups like Notre Dame students join in on the conversation, we become more than an audience – we can be actors ourselves, finding ways to make a difference in the global story unfolding in front of our very eyes.