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The Meaning Of Life with Gay Byrne

Garry Hynes

Gay Byrne with

Garry Hynes

Widely regarded as Ireland's premier theatre Director, Garry Hynes is Director and Co-Founder of Galway's Druid Theatre. She is the first female ever to win a Tony award for Directing on Broadway with the play Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh. She has been honoured with numerous awards, accolades and received critical acclaim for Druid Synge, her production of all six of Synge's plays which was a sensational success both here and in the States.

Garry's first experience with directing was in fifth class with the support of her teacher Sister Josephine, who to this day, still attends all her plays.

"Yes, when I was in fifth class in St. Louis Convent in Monaghan, where we then lived, somehow or other I had a notion to put on a play with some classmates... And it proved very successful and we were later allowed to tour the play around to the other classes in the afternoon. So all-in-all it was my first experience of the theatre."

From humble beginnings in rural Ireland and guided within a Catholic education, Garry went on to attend Galway University and upon leaving, formed the Druid Theatre Company with fellow class mates, Maire Mullen and Mick Lally. From its early days, the company moved between Irish and international repertoires and notably toured parts of Ireland, otherwise overlooked by professional theatre. Hynes herself was also working internationally with various theatres in New York, Washington D.C., The Royal Court in London and the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon. In Ireland she had diversified too, working with The Gate Theatres and from around 1984, Garry had also begun directing plays for The Abbey Theatre, later she would become it's Artistic Director.

"I accepted the job as Artistic Director on the understanding that the organisation needed change. I thought that was generally accepted within the organisation but it wasn't and I didn't have the resources to affect the change that I think the organisation needed, the Abbey needed. So, it was difficult and it was demanding, but I've never ever, for one second, regretted doing it. It was very important for me..."

Hynes was raised in a Catholic environment and considers herself a 'cultural Catholic'. She believes Catholicism to be so embedded in Irish culture that one cannot somehow avoid its influence, nor does she wish to do so. In fact, her religious education has helped to inform her understanding of Irish culture. But she envies the deeply held faith of her mother and of Sister Josephine and that generation.

Garry was hugely affected by the sudden death of her brother Jerome Hynes, who dropped dead in his mid 40s on the stage of Wexford Opera House, where he was Chief Executive. Jerome and she were close as he had helped her in the early days of Druid. Hynes believes that the experience of the death of a loved one helps to give us an immense appreciation for life. She believes people who have passed, live on within the memories and love of their loved ones. Does she believe in God and the Afterlife? Like many of her generation, she cannot quite make that leap of faith, but she believes in the power of the imagination

"You know when young people hear for the first time the claim that 'God didn't create man, man created God'. Well, if man created God, what a wonderful act of the imagination (that was) and in so many various forms; Hindu, Jesus, God, Buddha, whatever. So, I cannot believe that something as powerful as the imagination comes to nothing."

Last year, Garry married her long term partner, Martha O'Neill in Druid in Galway, just before the Marriage Equality referendum. She had been in her 30s before she had been able to address this part of her life, and like many never thought Ireland would be the first country to vote yes to same sex marriage.

"Ireland did good that day, and I think Ireland knows it did good that day too", she says

 

 

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