In some ways, the book Walking With Ghosts was not really a surprise. It was not surprising that Gabriel Byrne was a man who knew his way around the world of words. He published a very readable and intriguing memoir in 1994 to some acclaim, and his book reviews and other writing would pop up here and there through the years. His speeches and prepared remarks for Cultural Ambassador for Ireland events were always intelligent and engaging. So, Walking With Ghosts itself was not a surprise. We waited a long time for that second book to come along and then, one day, there it was.
The story-telling is superb. Gabriel is a very accomplished writer, with an ear for his home idiom and an eye for details, even those bits from the past that, for us, would be half-remembered and hazy. He captures them and recreates them on the page as though this is what he was born to do. He seems to be saying to us: “Acting? Yeah, that’s my job, and I know that’s why you are here, but this writing stuff? That’s something else entirely.” Walking With Ghosts evokes images and dreams and people and the past with such clarity and also with such great love that you want to read it again the moment you finish that last chapter. You can SEE him on the pages, and all those who inhabit his world with him.
And then he writes the one-man play based on the book. THIS caught me by surprise. How would it work? How could the writer become the actor–of his own words? How would it work? I knew my favorite actor in the world would not take on a project that he could not do, so I adopted the good old “wait and see” attitude. Let’s just see how he does it. When the play premiered in Dublin, pictures of the theatre and the set began to circulate and then came pictures of Gabriel himself on stage. Fans were riveted. Reviewers were, too. Gabriel had returned home, to his home stage, in triumph. This “waiting and seeing” thing was becoming irksome. I wanted to experience this amazing night of theatre for myself!
The streaming version of the play rescued me and many other Gabriel Fans around the world, allowing us to see what everyone else had enjoyed on the Gaiety Theatre stage: Gabriel telling stories from his book, reliving past events and becoming the characters he had illustrated so delicately; Gabriel acting scenes from the book, powerful dramatic scenes and comedic flights of hilarity, with an easy familiarity and an unerring sense of timing and tone; Gabriel speaking to the audience as though each person were an old friend, a trusted colleague, a member of the troupe–about the challenges posed by life and death that we each face, the experiences of both joy and despair, and the meaning of family and hope.
Unique. Unforgettable. Transcendent. I’ve used these words to describe Gabriel Byrne and his craft before. Little did I know that he would leave me almost without words for his great achievement: write a book, write a play based on the book, bring that play to life, all alone on the stage, but firmly in our hearts. He outdid himself. And I’m so happy for him. heart
The Walking With Ghosts Mega Stage Page captures the very special premiere of Gabriel’s play in Dublin in January 2022. Opening night pics, promotional stills, and photoshoots by Dublin’s leading photographers, fan reactions on Twitter, posters, behind the scenes shots, three clips from the streaming version of the play, interviews, reviews, and more are gathered together in one place to commemorate his artistic achievement.
It is not every day that one’s favorite actor performs such a trifecta—a book, then a play based on that book, and then starring in that play—and all three endeavors are such a resounding success! Visit the Walking With Ghosts Mega Stage Page for a glimpse at this unique event. Don’t forget the champagne. You will want to join Byrneholics Everywhere in an exuberant toast to Gabriel Byrne, I’m sure! martini