Portrait Wrap

We were humbled and gratified by the level of support for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man  directed by Wayne Pearn at fortyfivedownstairs. A sell-out four days ahead was a major achievement for this small bunch of Joyce groupies. I’d like to thank Wayne and the cast for a super job. It’s been pure bliss working with them on this demanding offering.

So, now two weeks later,  we’re finally wrapping up and getting to a fast boil on other shows that had necessarily occupied the back burner for a while ( in particular our next fundraiser, Convicted on a Comma: The Trial of Roger Casement, a world première, written and directed by Brian Gillespie, and also our blockbuster show for 2017, Getting up James Joyce’s Nose). More on both those shows presently.

Let’s celebrate finishing in style with a flourish. We received a great deal of unsolicited feedback from patrons, and they were to a person, very happy with what we did with Portrait.  It was striking, both in the responses to the play and to our excellent seminar papers, how many folk, originating =both from Ireland and Australia, felt some personal and indeed intimate ownership of the narratives unfolded in Portrait. One woman commented to me privately how the show had actually helped her to understand her own birth culture some forty years after leaving Ireland. Here’s a sample of what we received:

Kelley McMenamin

I thoroughly enjoyed “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” last night. All the players were fantastic. Loved the use of modern music. Please pass along my gratitude and congratulations. All the best for the rest of the run.

Is mise le meas/kind regards,

Kelley McMenamin

Cumann Gaeilge na hAstráile/Irish Language Association of Australia


16 June from DP: Congratulations, the performance tonight was absolutely brilliant, the cast were all exceptional. Wayne, your sound track needs to be published and that woman deserves an Oscar, what incredible voice projection she has. What a fantastic contribution you all make, really very impressive.

JG, 17 June 2016

Last night’s performance was outstanding, congratulations to you and the broader team.

SM, Joyce and in particular Portrait scholar,  18 June 2016

The play was really very good, much of the acting also. (Only gripe, the occasional tendency for an important line to be spoken too fast or indistinctly; nerves on the big night?) I think the nun’s chorus was entirely appropriate as an evocation of the voices SD is always hearing in his mind anyway…. Also worked for some very nice satire.
I also rather liked the audience participation after the hellfire sermon; totally appropriate it seemed to me; don’t you love the way Joyce can build a community? Choices of music were also terrific, including your Depeche Modes, trip hop etc.  By end of the play I was close to tears.

AG by email on 19 June:

Congrats to you and all the Bloomsday crew for a wonderful performance, I was really glad to see it yesterday and I’m very grateful to X for giving up his ticket, that was extremely kind and generous of him.

Bob explained to me that the scripts for all the Bloomsday productions are written by committee. That’s an amazing feat in itself. I thought they did a great job with A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and the cast was terrific, particularly young Stephen.

The news of next year’s Bloomsday production is very exciting too!


DG by email on 21 June:

All of my contacts who went to see Portrait  say it was (a) brilliant (regulars)and (b) brilliant (newcomers). Some neighbours, in whose letterbox I dropped a flyer, went for the first time to a Bloomsday production.  They were over the moon about it.

RL by email on 17 June


His wife, BL: on 20 June

Like R I also enjoy the play. I thought Matthew Dorning was a great Stephen.

We saw him develop and change as he grew up questioning the life he was leading and choosing to leave family ,church and Ireland.

I thought Christina Costigan was wonderful in all her roles.

Steve Gome and Liam Gillespie are old favourites.

I loved the angry Dante and all the other actors.

You all did well.


JS, 20 June by email.

Congratulations on a wonderful Bloomsday festival – you are a bloody marvel – and I enjoyed being part of it


Max by email

I too very much enjoyed Portrait.  For me, it was like watching the book come alive in front of me.  The selections chosen for the performance and the way they were acted out was fascinating.


James, email of 22 June.

Congratulations to you and your Bloomsday-in-Melbourne team- I thought ‘Portrait’ was terrific- a great script, wonderfully acted, and admirably faithful to the original text.

James’ friend: The scene of the alcohol fuelled Xmas get together was very well acted and also painful.  Despite all that, a wonderful two hours of entertainment so when your committee next meets, please pass on my congratulations.


Hugh, by email on 23 June:

I loved your production of the Portrait, a dizzy dream with all the themes of family, church, school, sex etc. whirling around the sensitive Joyce. Well done. An English/Australian member of the audience beside me thought it was brutal and sad, she asked me, did I have a schooling like that? Interestingly, Cillefoyle Park had that effect on people, I guess I grew up through the Troubles and escaped it, those that stayed, as Heaney said escaped to their front rooms. I enjoyed the boys, Liam and Matthew, the haunting nuns esp Steve. All of it really, it would be interesting to see it again, you should offer 2 nights for 1!


AG by email 19 June

Congrats to you and all the Bloomsday crew for a wonderful performance, I was really glad to see it yesterday and I’m very grateful to X for giving up his ticket, that was extremely kind and generous of him.

Bob explained to me that the scripts for all the Bloomsday productions are written by committee. That’s an amazing feat in itself. I thought they did a great job with A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and the cast was terrific, particularly young Stephen.

The news of next year’s Bloomsday production is very exciting too!


Maireid Sullivan on Facebook 20 June 2019:

Bloomsday-in-Melbourne festival has become the world’s best showcase of James Joyce’s genius. I have no doubt about it!

The people behind the festival reflect the same brilliance — deeply gifted, remarkably courageous, well organised and inspiringly dedicated, never missing a year, since the mid-90s. This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” — written before the 1916 Easter Rising. The performance was, for me, a profound insight into that particular piece of Irish history – what it must have been like to live in Dublin, surrounded by the overbearing ‘dogma’ of nuns and priests, juxtaposed against my own idyllic life in rural West Cork where we never saw nuns and there was only one priest who served a distant role. Migrating to America at age 12 was far less stultifying than Australia at age 20 where the “war of religions” culture was entrenched in politics, I quickly learned to dance around and away from the argumentative ‘grip’ and now I see more clearly why Joyce left Ireland but could never stop thinking about the drama he left behind! With deep gratitude, I wish to thank Frances Devlin-Glass, Bob Glass, Wayne Pearn, Matthew Dorning, Liam Gillespie, Silas Aiton, Christina Costigan, Kylie Bell, Steven Dawson, Steve Gome, Ness Harwood, Lindon Blakey and all the others who, remarkably and systematically well directed, remind us that live theatre has the power to transport us into the intimate reality, the history, that inspired the power within the written word.

Renee on Facebook: Congratulations to the Director par excellence, Wayne Pearn. The fantastic cast, headed by Matthew Dorning in a most convincing portrayal of the young Steven Dedalus, brought Wayne’s vision to life. The way he moved from childhood to young manhood was spellbinding. Thanks to all the SUBLIME cast; Christina ( a reminder of years of terrorisation by the Redemptorists missions in my youth, Steven, another face of terror, Steve, upholder of public morality!! (well trying to), Liam, yet another accolade is his vast growing repertoire, Silas for a convincing Fr Conmee, with human frailty allowed to shine through. And lastly to Marian, who I hope stays around longer than our last great Bloomsday Mayo treasure.

Frances , writers, stagers, etc etc. This is the jewel in the Bloomsday crown. Can’t wait for 2017. Thanks for a memorable night of theatre.

Today I raise a toast to Frances Devlin Glass. The star and sun of Bloomsday that shone at its brightest last night. May your bright rays illuminate the Bloomsday path for many more to come. Thanks for last nite. It was sublime.


Replied to by Ruth Katerelos on 19 June

Ruth Katerelos  What a wonderful tribute to you Frances Devlin-Glass  , and to your passion for Joyce. You certainly opened my eyes to his amazing writing – God – what is it? 32 years or so ago at Rusden, Portrait and Ulysses, the latter especially took me to a place in literature I’d never been, and probably not visited since. You were an amazing teacher, and your passion for Bloomsday is inspiring. Was lovely to see you Wednesday, though I was a bit under the weather and pretty well bolted home after the show. Congrats  Wayne Pearn,  Christina Costigan, Steven Dawson and the rest of the cast and crew.


Chris Boek on Facebook 19 June

Thanks to Bloomsday people, Wayne Pearn, Frances Devlin-Glass, Christina Costigan, Kylie Bell, Steven Dawson, Liam Gillespie, Steve Gome, Silas Aiton, Matthew Dorning, Ness Harwood, Lindon Blakey and all for an entertaining night of Theatre. Another great Bloomsday show!


Facebook Congratulations from

Debra Low: Lovely show everyone! Well done all.

Leanne Cairnduff: A wonderful night seeing this years Bloomsday show – Portrait of a Young Man. Superbly written, directed and acted. Another fantastic production for Bloomsday in Melbourne and Wayne Pearn.

Cathy Kohlen: They did good. X

Leo Regan: great production well done all

Gayle Pemberton: Congratulations wayne, you are a star..

Mary Dunne: Really enjoyed Production,


and a warm farewell from a new Bloomsday actor, Christina Costigan:

And so another show ends. ‘Portrait’ was a delight in every way: an entertaining script from classic source material; a fun, talented cast; supported by superbly efficient crew; directed cannily and imaginatively. Thank you to everyone who (booked early and) supported this sell-out season, my splendid fellow cast members Steve Gome, Steven Dawson Silas Aiton Liam Gillespie Matthew Dorning Maz Griffin Kylie Bell; lighting and sound wiz Lindon Blakey; crew Anna-Rose Shack and Ness Harwood; and director Wayne Pearn who honoured me with one of the most kick-arse monologues it’s been my privilege to perform. Finally, thank you to the Bloomsday group and Frances Devlin-Glass in particular for creating and steering this glorious production. A pleasure and a privilege.


In addition,  two reviewers were on the case:

Review,  Theatre People, by Fiona Spitzkowsky  at

Tinteán Review by Lucille Hughes



Frances Devlin-Glass is the Director of Bloomsday in Melbourne and has been running it since 1994, mounting fresh theatrical adaptations and original plays, and a seminar, annually. The aim of Bloomsday in Melbourne is to share the joys of Joyce and to demystify him. This very lively group of Joyce enthusiasts has an international profile and was in 2004 invited to perform in Dublin. Frances has taught Joyce in Melbourne universities, and overseas, and to interested groups of readers since 1979. She enjoys the opportunity to continually engage with Joyce's texts and with other Joyceans.

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