His play is done for the time being, but Gabriel Byrne still has a story–or in this case, a joke–to tell!
A new interview at The New York Times gives us a glimpse of how he feels about closing Walking With Ghosts on Broadway a bit earlier than originally planned, what developing the play entailed, and some of his hopes for the audience reception of his first foray into writing a play. He also hints that the reports of the play’s demise may be premature; or, he isn’t done yet and neither is Walking With Ghosts!
And that’s the best gift we’ll get this season: More Gabriel Byrne!
But first: the joke. It’s a terrible joke. I laughed out loud, though, so maybe it’s not so terrible after all. wink
Gabriel Tells a Joke
The interview is behind a pay wall and is available to subscribers; you may have free access to some articles, so copy this link and put it in your web browser and see what happens: https://www.nytimes.com/video/t-magazine/100000008660132/tell-t-a-joke-gabriel-byrne.html
I am confused about how links at The New York Times work now, so I checked their Help page and actually did not find the answer to my question. Still, it might help you. Good luck!
I’ve excerpted a rather large hunk of the interview, in case you need it, but don’t tell anyone, okay? Here you go. Gabriel is talking about what he wanted the play to achieve:
. . . Instead, he said, he wanted to emphasize experiences people could relate to, themes that felt universal — for instance, that of searching for a sense of rootedness as an immigrant living away from his homeland (he moved to New York in the mid-1980s to be with his then partner, the actor Ellen Barkin; they divorced in 1999 but he remained in the States). “Every immigrant has a yearning to be at home,” he said. “But you can never be at home anywhere once you leave. You trade one place for another, but you don’t really belong in either.”
Of course, he said, dredging up his memories of abuse or recounting the death of a boyhood friend every night is hardly enjoyable. But it is a willingness to explore those uncomfortable places, he said, that gives the show its power. “By going there, you’re opening the door for somebody else in the audience to maybe go there, too,” he explained.
That is not to say there weren’t lighthearted moments. Among the dozens of characters from his past that Byrne embodies are friends, teachers, religious figures, family members and even the various actors in the amateur theater troupe he joined (Soloski wrote that the show “allows him to show a playful side and a gift, neglected in Hollywood, for physical comedy”). “You can’t just get up there and start telling serious stories,” Byrne said. “You have to leaven it with a spoonful of sugar.”
Though he is finished with “Walking With Ghosts” — for now — he suggested that a return to the blue blazer and black boots may not be far off. He’s had offers to do the show in other cities — he has his eye on Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, he said — and international plans are in the works. “The producers want it to go to Australia and Canada,” said Byrne, who lives in Rockport, Maine, with his wife, Hannah Beth King, a documentary filmmaker, and their young daughter. (He has two adult children with Barkin.) “We’ll see. I don’t think Sunday night is the end of it.”
In the meantime, he’s working on a new book, his first novel, which will explore themes of immigration and exile. He’s also looking forward to catching up on the movies he hasn’t had time to see and popping in and out of Broadway theaters — now as an audience member. (On his list: The recent revival of “Death of a Salesman.”) “I’ve been living in the world of books and the streets of New York, which is a continuous novel,” he said. “You never stop turning the pages.”