Riders to the Sea

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Riders to the Sea is a one-act play by J.M. Synge (1871–1909)[1].

The original text

A poetic work, perhaps one of the best one-act plays ever written, with dialogue in Synge's version of the Gaelic dialect of the Aran islands, sometimes referred to as "Hyberno-English"[2], a form Synge used consumately in his plays.

First performed on 25 February 1904 at the Molesworth Hall, Dublin, by the Irish National Theater Society.

First published in The Shadow of the Glen. Riders to the Sea by Elkin Mathews, London 1905. Later taken up in the various versions of Collected Plays by John M. Synge. (i.a. Harmondsworth, Middlesex [Eng.] : Penguin Books, 1952).

Translations and adaptations

Translated or adapted into a number of languages, including a number of times into French (e.g. as À cheval vers la mer, Cavaliers à la mer and Cavaliers vers la mer).

Translated into Afrikaans by C.W. Hudson as Na die See ("to the sea"), published in Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, 11(3):98-107, 1961.

Adaptations include Die Gewehre der Frau Carrar (or Señora Carrar's Rifles ) by Bertolt Brecht, a dance piece by Mary Anthony called Threnody, four operas, three using the same title (the first by Vaughan Williams in 1927) and one called Spindrift, and at least two film versions. The first, an Irish film by Brian Desmond Hurst, featured Sara Allgood and Synge's bereaved fiancée Marie O'Neill. Geraldine Page starred in a 1987 version by Ronan O'Leary.

Performance history in South Africa

1976: Performed as part of a double bill of plays by J.M. Synge (along with The Shadow of the Glen), directed by Beth Dickerson in April 1976, featuring Ian Roberts and others.


NELM catalogue.




Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, 11(3):98-107, 1961

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