She Sat Like a Queen

  • Walter Starkie


On my return to the Abbey Theatre in 1912 I heard from Joe Kerrigan, one of the principal actors of the company, the story of their odyssey in the United States during their 1911 tour, when The Playboy excited riotous scenes in the theatre, especially in New York and Philadelphia. In the latter city the trouble became more serious, with the result that the whole cast of The Playboy were arrested for performing ‘immoral or indecent plays’. Joe Kerrigan, who had been playing the part of Shoneen Keogh, gave me a graphic account of the scene in the court before the magistrate. The first witness for the prosecution, a publican, said that he had sat out the play until Shoneen’s ‘coat of a Christian man’ was left in Michael James’s hands. Then he made a disturbance and was ejected from the theatre. ‘I found,’ he declared, ‘as much indecency in that conversation as would demoralize a monastery.’ His brother, a priest, however, endured the play to the end, and found that Synge had committed every one of the sins mentioned in the act. ‘We actors,’ said Joe Kerrigan, ‘were all raging from the start, but when that priest started to attack my—that is to say Shoneen Keogh’s—character, I got so mad, Walter, that I bawled out “Oh my God!” The magistrate then said: “If that man interrupts the Court again, turn him out,” forgetting that he was speaking of a prisoner in the dock! I declare to God the whole lot of us burst out laughing.’


United States Public Safety Publisher Limited Principal Actor High Promise 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter Starkie

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