Some plays are original scripts written especially for the stage, others are adaptations. Source material for these adaptations can come from many places – books, films, newspaper articles even. Manny Man Does the History of Ireland On Stage is a new one on me – a stage adaptation of a YouTube video.
The video in question is John D Ruddy’s Irish History in 6 minutes which has garnered over half a million YouTube hits since it’s initial upload. It’s one of a series of John’s Manny Man YouTube series in which animated host Manny Man takes the viewer on a humorous tour of historical events of note such as The Easter Rising, World War 1 and World War 2.
The videos have proven incredibly popular – the Easter Rising clip at 600,000 viewings is currently even more watched than the Irish History one – presumably buoyed by the recent centenary celebrations – but that’s dwarfed by the popularity of the World War 1 and World War II videos at 3.5 million and 4 million plus respectively.
The Manny Man phenomenon hits the An Grianan Stage this summer as part of the Earagail Arts Festival. It’s arguably the centrepiece of what is a somewhat limited festival theatre programme – Earagail seems to have emphasised music more than theatre in recent years with this year’s programme only listing eight theatre pieces but still, quality over quantity and all that.
Creator John D Ruddy also stars (alongside Ballybofey actress Louise Conaghan) in a 90 minute romp through Irish history complete with illustrated cut-outs and craziness taking the audience from the Ice Age all the way through to today’s modern Ireland with the tongue in cheek humour familiar to followers of the YouTube series succeeding in making History fun.
You can see Manny Man Does the History of Ireland On Stage on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th of July at 8pm nightly at An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny as part of the 2018 Earagail Arts Festival.