- About the Play
- Behind the Scenes
- Photo Gallery
- Study Guide
by Marie Jones
MARCH 8, 2013 - APRIL 14, 2013A couple of small town Irishmen hope to hit it big when hired as extras for an epic American movie filming in their scenic County Kerry village. Two actors portray a colorful cast of dozens in this rollicking tale that pits harsh reality against Hollywood endings.
Presented in association with the Utah Shakespeare Festival
Two Actors, Fifteen Characters
"Stones in His Pockets begins with a mundane order for lemon meringue pie on a stage set backed by 12 pair of empty shoes. Then, in seconds flat, it evolves into a vertiginous display of theater as actors David Ivers and Brian Vaughn embody 15 characters with all the skill of matadors dodging a herd of charging bulls." -Salt Lake Tribune
A unique aspect of Stones in His Pockets is the fact that it is written for only two actors to play every role. Without the aid of costumes, makeup, or even offstage transitions, the actors remain on stage, instantly shifting back and forth among more than a dozen characters with only a change of voice, stance, gesture, and an occasional accessory. When two actors rise to the challenge of embodying everyone from Irish villager to Hollywood starlet, it leads to a tour-de-force performance that is part of the joy of Stones in His Pockets!
CHARACTER LIST (courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival)
Charlie Conlon: In his mid-thirties and one of a number of extras hired in the filming of a Hollywood movie being shot in rural Ireland, Charlie is the former owner of a failed video store. He has a movie script in his back pocket that he hopes will win some consideration from the movie people. He is relegated to a faceless background role, and his script is never even considered by anyone.
Jake Quinn: One of a number of extras hired in the filming of a Hollywood movie being shot in rural Ireland, Jake has recently returned from a short and very unsuccessful stay in New York. Jake has the notion that he might become a film star. Instead, as an extra, he is relegated to digging turf as a "background bog man." His attempts at winning the favors of the film's female star by pretending to be a poet don't go much better. He is a cousin of the tragic Sean Harkin.
The actors playing these two roles also portray the rest of the characters in the play. These include:
Simon: The first assistant director on the set, Simon is just trying to get the film shot on time.
Aisling: The third assistant director, Aisling is young, pretty, and anxious to impress those above her, especially Simon and Clem. She has no interest in those beneath her, especially the local extras.
Mickey Riordan: A local in his seventies, Mickey is one of the few surviving extras in The Quiet Man, John Wayne's seminal Hollywood-in-Ireland movie shot in this same region of the country many years ago. As such, he thinks he knows best how the extras should act to keep their jobs and their "forty quid per day."
Clem: The movie director, Clem is a stuffy Englishman with little or no understanding of the local community.
Sean Harkin: A dreamy, local lad, Sean's dreams are continually dashed.
Fin: Another young local, Fin is Sean's friend.
Caroline Giovanni: The beautiful but flighty American star, Caroline thinks she understands Ireland and its people, but it soon becomes evident that her knowledge and caring are about as real as her poor accent.
John: Caroline's accent coach.
Brother Gerard: A local teacher.
Dave: A Cockney crew member.
Jock Campbell: Caroline's Scottish security man.
David Ivers (Jake) is co-artistic director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival with Brian Vaughn, and has appeared in thirty productions over sixteen seasons, including Much Ado about Nothing, The 39 Steps, As You Like It, Stones in His Pockets, Love's Labour's Lost, The Servant of Two Masters, and The Tempest. He directed Cyrano de Bergerac, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and Romeo and Juliet for the Festival. He was a resident company member at the Denver Center Theatre Company where he appeared in A Prayer for Owen Meany, Noises Off! and The Pillowman, and has worked with the Oregon, Alabama, Idaho Shakespeare festivals; Portland Center Stage; Portland Repertory Theatre; ACT; Seattle Repertory Theatre. He is the recipient of the Utah Shakespeare Festival's Michael and Jan Finlayson Award and has taught as a guest artist, faculty, director at universities and conservatories, including Southern Oregon University, University of Michigan, National Theatre Conservatory.
Brian Vaughn (Charlie) is co-artistic director of The Utah Shakespeare Festival with David Ivers, where he has appeared in over 50 roles in 18 seasons including the title roles in Hamlet, Henry V, and Cyrano de Bergerac. Other festival credits include Javert in Les Miserables, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Leontes in The Winter's Tale, Benedick in Much ado About Nothing, Prince Hal and Hostpur in Henry IV pt. 1 (1996, 2004) and Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps. Regional credits include The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre (Resident Company Member 1996-2010 (Amadeus, Bach at Leipzig, Doubt, Proof, The Voysey Inheritance, Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara, The Lonesome West, The Shaughraun) Arizona Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, PCPA Theatrefest, Renaissance Theatreworks, and Skylight Opera. His directing credits include Othello for Orlando Shakespeare Theatre; Dial M for Murder, Greater Tuna, and the regional premiere of Peter and the Starcatcher (summer 2013) for Utah Shakespeare.
by Marie Jones
Directed by J.R. Sullivan
Scenic Design Scott Davis, USA
Costume Design David Kay Mickelsen, USA
Lighting Design Casey Diers
Sound Design Lindsay Jones, USA
Production Stage Manager Christine D. Freeburg, AEA
Photos by Karl Hughes, courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival
Photo GalleryClick on any image to start the slideshow
Northlight Theatre, in association with Utah Shakespeare Festival, presents Stones in His Pockets
INTERVIEW WITH THE CAST AND DIRECTOR
Director J.R. Sullivan and actors Brian Vaughn and David Ivers talk about the show for the Theatre in Chicago podcast.
Two Actors Suggest Cast of Thousands in "Stones in His Pockets"
March 17, 2013
By HEDY WEISS Theatre critic
Marie Jones, a working class, Belfast-bred actress and playwright, penned "Stones in His Pocket" in 1996, during the very moment when her neighbor, the Republic of Ireland, was turning into a roaring "Celtic Tiger" and experiencing a unique period of economic growth and expansion. Of course by 2008, the country was in deep recession, with escalating unemployment, and government bond ratings approaching junk status.
Now, seen in retrospect -- by way of an alternately rollicking and heartbreaking production at Northlight Theatre -- Jones' play serves as a reminder that nothing is forever, and that the promise of Hollywood's classic "happy endings" often turns out to be more demoralizing than it is spirit-raising. The play also suggests that what can look like a boon, whether to the economy or the spirit, can very easily turn into an identity-shattering bust.
So why is there so much giddy laughter during the course of "Stones in His Pocket"? In large part it is because just two continually morphing actors -- Brian Vaughn and David Ivers (who also happen to be co-artistic directors of the much-admired Utah Shakespeare Festival) -- conjure a cast of thousands. And they capture much of what is most magical about the whole process of acting, impersonation and that imaginative leap an audience takes when it winkingly agrees to believe in nothing more than performers' quicksilver shifts of body language, accents and attitudes.
Jones' story is set in a rural town in County Kerry, Ireland, where a Hollywood film crew has come to shoot an epic period piece, and where locals have been hired as extras to enhance authenticity with the look of "the poor and downtrodden." Most of these extras are happy to earn a good daily fee and enjoy the free food service, and even happier to rub shoulders with film stars. But that delight begins to sour for many reasons.
Among the extras are two thirtysomething guys. Charlie Conlon (Vaughn), is the upbeat fellow whose video store went bust, but who hopes to get his own screenplay into the hands of someone important. Jake Quinn (Ivers). is already embittered by his experiences working in the U.S., but he's temporarily distracted by the misunderstood attentions of Caroline, the film's smart, sexy, superficial star.
Vaughn gives us a wicked Caroline, as well as the broken, drug-ruined fellow, Sean Harkin, whose sudden death upends the filming. Ivers plays the hip-swinging third assistant director (a young woman who treats the extras with contempt), as well as the hunched, elderly Mickey, who prides himself in having been an extra in the 1952 John Wayne classic, "The Quiet Man." But the trick here is that these two actors also capture the full scale of the movie and its pivotal scenes. And they movingly suggest the nature of the "real life" in this town -- an existence that profoundly eludes a film crew convinced of its total insight.
Directed by J.R. Sullivan (whose revival of "The Faith Healer" at The Den Theatre earlier this season remains unparalleled), the production worms its way into your heart, teasing with comedy but seducing with tragedy. Those are big shoes to fill, but these actors also have a stage full of souls (and soles) to lace up.
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'Stones in His Pockets' captures Celtic Sentiment
March 18, 2013
By CATEY SULLIVAN, Contributor
In "Stones in His Pockets," playwright Marie Jones creates a juicy tour-de-force for two actors.
She also captures that singularly Irish temperament that is at once tragic and comic, giving audiences a vivid concoction of humor and sorrow. This is a piece that is all about duality - a vivid portrait of laughter embedded with sadness and an intelligent, cutting glimpse at the clash between the rich, famous and powerful with the borderline impoverished.
Directed by J.R. Sullivan for Northlight Theatre, the minimalist production skips simple sentiment (you'll find no leprechauns here). Instead, we get an incisive look at the hardships and the hopes within a rural village on County Kerry's Dingle Peninsula.
At the deceptively complex heart of "Stones in His Pockets" are Jake Quinn (David Ivers) and Charlie Conlon (Brian Vaughn), both of whom sign on as extras when a Hollywood film crew rolls into town to shoot a movie called "The Quiet Valley." For 40 quid a day, Charlie and Jake are immersed in a world of condescending stars perpetuating emerald-tinged stereotypes, their lives reduced for mass consumption to postcard views of hand-knit sweaters and pastorally rolling green hills.
The real story of County Kerry, of course, is far more complicated and far less romantic than that created for the would-be blockbuster. As for Jake and Charlie, they quickly find that working as an extra brings more than desperately needed income and the occasional slice of free pie. For both, the work is an eye-opening exercise illuminating the gulf between the Hollywood haves and the Irish have-nots. Charlie and Jake are inconsequential extras not just in the micro-world of "The Quiet Valley," but also in a macro-world filled with rich, powerful folk who are clueless as to their impact on workaday strugglers.
The starkest contrast between Ireland and Hollywood's dream manufacturers lies in the character of Jake's cousin, Sean Quinn, a young man whose dreams have been repeatedly snuffed out and who has turned to alcohol and drugs to blunt the razor edges of his losses. It's his painful interaction with the film's culturally clueless leading lady that propels the tragedy that largely defines "Stones in His Pockets," and that puts Hollywood's opinion of the Dingle Peninsula locals into sharp, unforgiving focus. But even Sean's fate can't completely douse the aspirations of Charlie and Jake, whose attempts at writing their own screenplay give Jones' play a steely thread of unquenchable optimism.
Vaughn and Ivers are masters of quicksilver transformation - a core requirement in a production in which all of the character changes occur onstage and without the help of much costuming. From pampered star to assistant director to doomed County Kerry native, Vaughn and Ivers make the people of "Stones in His Pockets" pop with authenticity. That they do so using little but their voices, posture and the occasional doffing of a cap speaks to their collective acting prowess.
In the wake of the commercialization of St. Patrick's Day, Northlight's production of "Stones in His Pockets" is a thoughtful anecdote that evokes both the laughter and the tears inherent to the Celtic sensibility.
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Heavy satire, but 'Stones' a touch too light
March 17, 2013
By CHRIS JONES, Theatre critic
[It's] a tour-de-force for two actors and full of comedy...Ivers and Vaughn, also co-artistic directors of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, are exceptionally capable and truthful actors with a strong interpersonal connection. These characters sit easily within their wheelhouses. But their very competence and charm presents some dangers, not the least of which is the lack of palpable risk.
I've seen versions of "Stones" where you find yourself choking on your laughs once Jones reveals the cost of this collision of power, culture, connection, aspiration and pain. This genial production, which is enjoyable throughout nonetheless, runs a wee bit around those dangerous pockets, emphasizing the play's human warmth, opportunities for quick-change characters and wicked little satirical touches.
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Stones in His Pockets at Northlight Theatre
Tour de force two-hander is so very Irish, and funny, too!
March 16, 2013
By TOM WILLIAMS
Tour de force two-hander is very so Irish and funny, too!
"Stones in his Pockets" is a terrific story told by two dedicated and talented actors who both capture the essence of what it is to be an Irish storytellers. The show is a rollicking tale that ultimately gives hope and purpose to two lost Irish lads. Set in the late 1990′s in County Kerry before the Internet Boom, we get a glimpse of rural Irish mentality through they eyes of two lovable rascals.
Laughs galore as David Ivers and Brian Vaughn play multiple roles ranging from two down and out Irish lads working as extras on an American film to a female film star and a pompous English director to an assortment of Irish villagers and film personal. The result is a master class on comic acting while playing multilevel roles. Ivers and Vaughn were fantastic as they delivered the story with a hyper infectious energy. These two guys delivered the essence of the Irish wit and contradictory characteristics deftly written in Marie Jones' clever script.
The show engages us from the start as we quickly relate to Charlie Conlin (Brian Vaughn) and Jake Quinn (David Ivers) as they sign on to be extras on an American film shot in a rural village. The pair get 40 quid a day plus 3 meals and they get to be close to Hollywood super-star Caroline Giovanni (played effectively by Vaughn). Soon the two Irish mates get disillusioned with the nasty side of film making as we see the complicated story told through the dozens of characters played sharply by Ivers and Vaughn. They move back and forth between the characters almost instantly with a slight change of body language, vocal tones or accent or by putting on a cap or jacket to ease the transitions with such stellar craftsmanship that the audience has no problem following the story. This is an amazing acting achievement.
These two superb actors deliver the wit, biting humor and canny satire inherent in Jones' writing. We also experience the sadness and despair of life in rural Ireland. I related to the satire of modern movie making as the play aptly blows open the movie myths that the Irish have toward American film stars.
As the story progresses, we learn to love the characters, hate the hypocritical American film makers and we feel the pain as we hear about the desperate action of one young lost Irish soul. Humor and heartbreaking situations give Jones' script depth. You'll laugh and be amazed at the stage craft of David Ivers and Brian Vaughn - they even do some expert Irish dance steps!
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Northlight STONES IN HIS POCKETS is a Tour de Force in Acting
March 20, 2013
By MICHAEL J. ROBERTS
About twenty minutes into Nothlight's brilliantly executed Stones In His Pockets, you totally forget that you are watching only two actors on stage. Instead, you are so taken in by the rich and vibrant characters carefully created by David Ivers and Brian Vaughn that you become instantly invested in the outcome of the players.
Set in a small town in Ireland we discover that an American film crew have set up shop and seemingly employed the entire town of County Kerry as extras including lifelong friends Jake and Charlie. The film's director wants an authentic Irish feeling to the picture, and this is where much of the comedy derives in Marie Jones emotionally gripping, 1996 play. Ivers and Vaughn transform themselves effortlessly into various roles including the diva American film star; a aged Irishmen whose claim to fame was being an extra on John Wayne's The Quiet Man; and a troubled young man who gives up on life when he feels the world has giving up on him. It is in this suicide that Stones In His Pockets creates the internal drama from the characters to draw upon.
Masterfully directed by J.R. Sullivan, Stones In His Pockets is a tour de force of acting by David Ivers and Brian Vaughn. Watching these two create a multitude of characters is an exercise in the how actors must trust one another on the stage. The commradory between the two are infectious and is a study in technique for those who want to see the craft of acting at its most prominent.
More than that, Stones In His Pockets sheds a light on the importance of taking a moment to recognize those around us who may be in some emotional turmoil. Sometimes it only takes a moment to reach out to someone who may be in trouble, whether it is a kind word, or even the acknowledgment that they exist, which may keep a person from drowning in there own sorrow.
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Review: Stones in His Pockets
CHICAGOLAND THEATRE REVIEWS
March 17, 2013
By DAN ZEFF
The Northlight revival gets highest marks for the stellar performances by David Ivers (Jake and others) and Brian Vaughn (Charlie and others). The two are co-artistic directors of the Utah Shakespeare Festival (the production is presented in association with the festival). The fluency of their role changes and the depth of their character interpretations draw the viewer deep into the play. After leaving the theater the spectator can marvel at the versatility and assurance of the acting. While the play is in motion, we accept the actors wholeheartedly as they appear in their many guises, accents firmly in place.
The performance takes place on a bare wooden platform. The only props are a couple of chairs, a large steamer trunk, and an old fashioned coat tree that accommodates an assortment of garments the actors draw upon as they change characters. A cutout at the rear of the stage suggests the shoreline and ocean beyond. The play's language suffices to create the assorted exteriors and interiors that contain the action.
Many of the characters limned by Vaughn and Ivers are a joy. There is the swishy American assistant director overflowing with pretention, the palsied old Irish peasant who's only claim to recognition is his self-proclaimed status as the only living extra from the John Wayne movie "The Quiet Man," and the pathetic young man who drowns himself (all played beautifully by Ivers). Vaughn's contributions include a bull's eye portrait of the American film director well aware that the movies sell fantasy and pipedreams, and the female American star of the movie who decides to hit on the bedazzled Jake. Charlie and Jake finally rebel against the American cultural invaders and determine to turn around their own sterile lives by making a movie that will tell the true story of rural Ireland. Good luck to them and their hopeless goal.
The Northlight has imported J. R. Sullivan from New York City to direct and he has done a masterful job of allowing "Stones in His Pockets" to unfold naturally, all the humor and pathos and drama delivered with nary a false note struck. The design team does its part-Scott Davis (scenery), David Kay Mickelson (costumes), Casey Diers (lighting), and Lindsay Jones (sound).
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Stones in His Pockets
AROUND THE TOWN CHICAGO
March 16, 2013
What a fitting time to open an Irish play-St. Patrick's Day week-end, as Northlight Theatre celebrates with a quaint Irish tale, "Stones In His Pockets", written by Marie Jones. It is a story about a small town in Ireland where an epic American film is being filmed and many of the townspeople get the opportunity to make some money as extras. But, is it the extra money that they will earn that Ms Jones is writing about? Or is it in fact what the filmmakers will do to their land and their lives during this period of time. Being a small and poor community, each of the townspeople have their own stories and in this roughly two hours of story telling , we get to meet some of these people, all played by the two actors in the show,Brian Vaughn and David Ivers. Ivers plays Jake Quinn ( as his main character) who has just come home from a dream visit to New York where all his dreams were crushed. Now he is an extra in this epic and as the days go on, he begins to dream of his discovery for the film world. many of his friends and even his cousin Sean all appear to have this dream and hope.
Charlie Conlon (the powerful Brian Vaughn) just lost his local business, a video store and has a movie script in his pocket, hoping that one of the powers to be will take a look-see and will want to make this film allowing for Charlie to get his fame and fortune. As you can see, this is a story of hope, in some cases, desperate hope, and dreams ( often easily smashed). Directed by J. R. Sullivan on an almost bare stage, this is an energetic little story involving a great many characters, all played by our two actors. I might call this choreographed instead of directed due to the movement that each actor takes as they slip into and out of each of the characters they portray- smooth as silk and always allowing the audience to know who they are and what is happening. This is a difficult task, in particular with accents and over a period of two acts ( almost 2 hours in total).
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Distinctively Irish Comedy at Northlight
March 14, 2013
Doug George, Reporter
What does an audience expect from an Irish play? Something traditional and sentimental like "The Shaughraun" or new and subversive like something from Conor McPherson? "Stones in His Pockets," a comedy by Marie Jones, opening Friday at Northlight Theatre, lands somewhere in the middle.
A village in County Kerry becomes the setting for all things Ireland when an American film crew arrives and disrupts the scenic small town. Two actors - Brian Vaughn and David Ivers - here portray a cast of 15 characters, from a seductive American actress to Brits to local lads Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn, hired as extras for the movie shoot.
A picture of Ireland according to Hollywood threatens to take over - with a village teenager as a cruel casualty- until Jake and Charlie decide to assert themselves in a way that's distinctively Irish.
"Stones" is directed by J.R. Sullivan, currently artistic director of The Pearl Theatre Company in New York and who previously helmed Northlight's "Benefactors" and "The Last Survivor." ("And it's good to be back in Chicago for St. Patrick's Day," he said.)
A subversive spirit is present in a lot of Irish stories, Sullivan said, be they traditional or Celtic Tiger-era dramas. It probably comes from all the years of being subjugated by others.
"So as extras, these guys are relegated into being nobodies," he said. "And their challenge is to become somebodies."
Vaughn and Ivers are co-artistic directors for the Utah Shakespeare Festival; the Northlight production is a collaboration with the festival. Shoes lined up on the floor represent all the characters they inhabit - Irish and otherwise.
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STONES IN HIS POCKETS Comes to Chicago's Northlight Theatre
February 26, 2013
Festival artistic directors and actors David Ivers and Brian Vaughn are taking Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones to the Northlight Theatre in Chicago, Illinois this March. Directed by J. R. Sullivan, the show first appeared at the Festival in 2005 and was restaged due to popular demand in the fall of 2012. In association with the Northlight Theatre, this production will run from March 8 to April 14 with the original cast and director.
"We are thrilled to be bringing a production from Cedar City to Chicago, where we hope to increase the national profile of the Festival," said Ivers. This is the first step in a larger initiative of sharing productions with other regional theatres. Northlight artistic direct BJ Jones, who has also directed at the Festival, has helped facilitate the new venture.
"One of the greatest pleasures in my job is the opportunity to bring old friends and colleagues to Chicago. Northlight veteran director J. R. Sullivan, with whom I worked first in 1976, returns to direct Stones in His Pockets with Brian Vaughn and David Ivers-two versatile actors who will play 15 roles in a play that is both hilarious and heartbreaking," said Jones. "David and Brian are the artistic directors of the Utah Shakespeare Festival and J. R. is the artistic director of the Pearl Theatre in New York. With all this artistic firepower on display I am sure you will be as delighted as I am to welcome them to Northlight."
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