Theatre Preview: James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’ Comes to Life Next Winter

The team behind The Dead, 1904, recently held a preview event at the American Irish Historical Society. The invited audience was enthralled with presentations by Muldoon, O’Reilly, Matza, and entrepreneur Liz Neumark, founder and CEO of Great Performances, the premiere New York City catering company that will recreate the novella’s feast. Celebrated tenor Ciaran Sheehan performed “The Lass of Aughrim,” accompanied by John Bell on the piano, and Gabriel and Gretta’s final, heartbreaking scene was read by stage and screen veterans John Slattery and Kate Burton. Burton is committed to the project when it opens in November.

The invited audience, intrigued, entertained and well-fed, had the distinct feeling that they were watching the birth of something extraordinary. And despite her year and half of involvement, Korelitz was not immune to the evening’s magic either. “This is really happening,” she thought at the time and admits, “I had chills.”

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Immersive theatre can be said to be “trending” right now. From Sleep No More to Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1912, to more millenial theatrical “experiences,” like Locked In A Room With A Zombie. Highly creative and engaging as they are, these productions sometimes lack a sense of logic and story. The beauty of The Dead, 1904 is that a masterpiece of literature will play out naturally. Korelitz describes it as, “Immersive theatre for grownups, filled with the beauty, power and intelligence we envision.”

The Dead, 1904 is a labor of love for all of the many talents involved. For Korelitz, it’s also been an exciting — and unexpected — next adventure. “I don’t think I was meant to be a theatre producer,” she explains. “I love my career; I enjoy being a novelist. But, I was drawn to do this. And, if you stop learning and stop taking chances, you might as well pack it in.”

If any readers feel drawn to being theatre producers, there are opportunities available to underwrite The Dead, 1904. The hope is that this initial production will attract funding from interested individuals, corporations and organizations, and that a commercial production may eventually be developed for audiences in Dublin, London, Boston and other locations with large Irish and Irish-American communities.

Regardless of its future, it promises to be a highlight of New York’s upcoming holiday season.

If you are interested (or, if you want to be put on the production’s mailing list for news about the show, schedule and tickets), visit

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  • Lysa Rohan April 12, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Thank you for letting us know about this!