Edmund John Millington Synge was born in Rathfarnham, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, on April 16, 1871, the youngest of five children. His father was a lawyer and landowner‑a conservative member of the Protestant Anglo‑Irish gentry. Although his mother was a devout Evangelical Protestant, Synge became disillusioned with Christianity and his English heritage at an early age, and became enamored of Ireland's history and culture. In 1889, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied Gaelic, but devoted most of his time to the study of the piano, violin, and flute, as he intended to become a professional musician. After he graduated in 1894, he traveled through Germany, Italy, and France, where he began to write poetry and dramatic pieces. In December 1896, Synge met W. B. Yeats, who suggested that he go to the Aran Islands off the Atlantic coast of Ireland. Between 1898 and 1902, Synge spent his summers among the Aran fishermen who still spoke Gaelic and led a preindustrial life. He kept notebooks of his experiences, which would later become the source material for his plays.
In 1902, he wrote Riders to the Sea and In the Shadow of the Glen. The latter caused controversy when it was produced in 1903, angering Irish nationalists who denounced its depiction of Irish life. When the Abbey Theatre opened in December 1904, Synge was appointed its literary advisor and later became one of its directors. The next year he began working on The Playboy of the Western World. When the play opened on January 26, 1907, it caused a full‑scale riot and police had to be called in to keep order. It was decried as an insult to the nation, to Catholics, and to common decency.
That same year Synge began Deidre of the Sorrows, his last play, as his health started to decline. Symptoms of Hodgkin's disease, which first manifested itself in 1897, reappeared. The disease interfered with work on the play as well as postponed his marriage to the actress Molly Algood. He continued to work on the play even as he was dying. Despite several operations, Synge died on March 24, 1909. The play opened at the Abbey Theatre on January 13, 1910, with his fiancée in the title role.
Synge is today considered the most distinguished playwright of the Irish Literary Revival. Riders to the Sea and The Playboy Of the Western World, both written in the last seven years of his life, are his masterpieces. His greatest work is characterized by his use of the lyrical speech he drew from the native language and dialects of Ireland, and by his accurate portrayal of Irish peasant life.(Biography taken from Great Irish Plays Copyright 1995, Random House Value Publishing, Inc)
|The Playboy of the Western World||Circle Players||3/7/2008|
|The Playboy of the Western World||Teaneck New Theatre||5/31/2002|
|The Playboy of the Western World||Shadow Lawn Summer Stage||7/23/1999|