By the Bog of Cats...

Press Release


Villanova Theatre presents the Philadelphia Premiere of By the Bog of Cats..., Irish playwright Marina Carr's passionate tale of love, betrayal, and revenge. By the Bog of Cats... is directed by Barrymore Award-winning director and Villanova theatre professor Harriet Power, and runs February 11­23, 2003, at Vasey Hall on the Villanova University campus. Show times are 8:00pm Tuesday-Saturday and 2:00pm Sunday. Tickets are priced $18­$22 and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box Office at (610) 519-7474.

Marina Carr is one of Ireland's most acclaimed contemporary playwrights. She is the author of nine plays, including Ariel, On Raftery's Hill, Portia Coughlan, and The Mai, which was named Best New Play at the 1994 Dublin Theatre Festival.

Inspired by Euripides’ legendary tragedy, Medea, By the Bog of Cats... received its premiere in Dublin and was awarded the 1998 Irish Theatre Award for Best Play and the Dublin Times Best New Play Award; its three U.S. productions (Chicago, San Jose, Cape Cod) have garnered rave reviews, with Aisle Say calling it "a richly poetic play with memorable characters and a gripping story."

Written with a rough elegance that reflects the unique vocal rhythms of Ireland's Midlands region where the play is set, By the Bog of Cats... is at once true to its epic Greek roots and stunningly original in its use of language and black humor.

“While the play is faithful to the structure of Medea, I also attempted to make it my own,” explained Carr. “At some point I forgot about the original structure and just went my own way. [Medea] is there like a ghost's imprint on the piece, though I have my own correlations to each of the characters."

Honoring the ancient Greek tradition of a play’s action taking place in a single day, By the Bog of Cats... moves from dusk to dawn on and around the Bog of Cats, a mysterious and starkly beautiful landscape that serves as home to Hester Swane, an Irish Traveller with a deep, almost unearthly connection to the mystical land.

"The bog exerts a soul-deep hold that almost goes beyond logic," says director Harriet Power, explaining Hester’s ties to the land. Believing that a "fully realistic treatment didn't honor the play or its Greek roots," Power enlisted Scenic Designer Daniel Boylen to create an "imaginative landscape" to physically represent the intimate expanse of the bleak, snow covered bog.

In By the Bog of Cats..., Hester, after a long, imposed departure, has returned to the bog where she was raised. Like the mythical Medea, Hester is pushed to the brink of despair when she is abandoned by the younger man she loves, and is faced with leaving her home and giving up her child.

Emphasizing what Power calls the play's strong sense of "generations," the ensemble of By the Bog of Cats... is composed of Villanova graduate theatre students, alumni, and local theatre talent of many ages.

Rose Malague stars as Hester Swane. She is a graduate of Villanova's M.A. theatre program, and is currently a professional actress and professor in the theatre arts program at the University of Pennsylvania. Professional actor and Villanova theatre graduate Patrick Edward White is Hester's one-time lover, Carthage; 2002 Barrymore Award-winning actress Hazel Bowers appears as his mother, Mrs. Kilbride; and 11-year-old Maddie Sutton-Smith is Hester and Carthage’s daughter Josie.

Current Villanova graduate theatre students Mike Dees, Carl Granieri, and Brett Maguire, and undergraduate Thomas Sibley, appear in the production, along with Villanova theatre professor Joanna Rotté as the mysterious Catwoman, retired Philadelphia Inquirer theater critic William B. Collins as the bumbling Father Willow, Temple University theatre professor and Villanova theatre graduate Michael Friel as the land baron Xavier, and Villanova graduate Theresa Donahue as Hester’s friend Monica.

The production team assembled for By the Bog of Cats... includes Barrymore Award winning Lighting Designer Jerold R. Forsyth, Scenic Designer Daniel Boylen, Costume Designer Margaret K. McCarty, Composer/Sound Designer Obadiah Eaves, Properties Designer cdavid hall-cottrill, Dramaturg Michael Kleba, Dialect Coach Megan Bellwoar, and Fight Choreographer John Bellomo.

Playwright Marina Carr was born in 1964 and brought up in County Offaly, Ireland. She graduated from University College of Dublin in 1987. Her plays to date include Low in the Dark, Deer’s Surrender, Ullaloo, This Love Thing, The Mai, Portia Coughlan, By the Bog of Cats..., On Raftery’s Hill, and Ariel. Ms. Carr has been awarded The Macaulay Fellowship, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, The Hennessy Short Story Prize, and the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work has been translated into several languages and produced in America and Europe. Carr has been writer-in-residence at the Abbey Theatre, Trinity College, and Dublin City University.

Carr currently holds the Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Endowed Chair in Irish Studies at Villanova University where she is teaching Modern Irish Play Voices and Playwriting.

Director Harriet Power is an associate professor of theatre at Villanova, teaching dramaturgy, acting, and solo performance, and is also a professional director and dramaturg. Recent directing credits include Missing Link, InterAct Theatre Company (2002 Barrymore nominee for Best New Play); Measure for Measure, Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival (2001 Barrymore nominee for Outstanding Direction); Uncle Vanya, Villanova Theatre.

From 1995-98, as Artistic Director of Venture Theatre, she directed A Moon for the Misbegotten (1998 Barrymore nominee for Outstanding Direction), Fires in the Mirror (with Ozzie Jones), and Mad Forest (co-produced with Temple Theaters), and produced two world premieres. She has worked extensively with new plays and playwrights (at Bay Area Playwrights Festival, West Coast Playwrights, Iowa Playwrights Festival, and in Philadelphia), and directed the world premiere of Dorothy Louise's LoveKnot at the International Women Playwrights Festival, Galway, Ireland.

Among the 11 productions Power has staged at Villanova, Angels in America: Perestroika, co-directed with James J. Christy, won 1997 Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Direction of a Play, Outstanding Ensemble, and Outstanding Supporting Actress.

By the Bog of Cats... performs February 11-23, 2003. Press Opening is Wednesday, February 12, 2003, at 8pm. Performances are held in Vasey Hall, Lancaster & Ithan Avenues, on the Villanova University campus. Showtimes are 8:00pm Tuesday-Saturday and 2:00pm Sunday. Tickets are priced $18-$22, with discounts for seniors, groups, and students.

For tickets and information, call the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610-519-7474 or visit

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Get Involved

Ushers are needed for every performance. Ushers arrive one hour before the show, hand out programs, help seat patrons, and see the show for free! Please contact the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610-519-7474 if you would like to usher.

Production Crew
We need volunteer crew members to help build sets, hang lights, and sew costumes. This is a great way to experience theatre "behind the scenes" and meet new people. Please contact Business/Production Manager Elisa Loprete Hibbs at 610-519-4897 to volunteer for production crew.

Open Auditions
Want to be in the spotlight? Audition for Villanova Theatre productions! Auditions are held throughout the year. 

Cast of Characters

HESTER SWANE: Rose Malague*
MONICA MURRAY: Theresa Donahue
JOSIE KILBRIDE: Maddie Sutton-Smith
MRS. KILBRIDE: Hazel Bowers*
CATWOMAN: Joanna Rotté*
CARTHAGE KILBRIDE: Patrick Edward White
XAVIER CASSIDY: Michael Friel*
YOUNG DUNNE: Thomas Sibley
JOSEPH SWANE: Carl Granieri
FATHER WILLOW: William B. Collins

*Appears Courtesy of Actors' Equity Association