"On the Verge" at the Handwerker Gallery


Contributed by Genevieve Kocienda

On Thursday, November 13, at 6:30 p.m. in the Handwerker Gallery, the On the Verge play-reading series will present a reading of Frank McGuinnness's 1985 play, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme.

The play will be directed by English professor Claire Gleitman and its cast will consist of Ithaca College students and faculty members.

Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme tells the story of a platoon of Protestant Irish soldiers who enlisted in the first World War as a display of their loyalty to the British crown.

Their fate was to be betrayed in every conceivable respect: most of them became cannon fodder in the trenches of the Somme, and those who survived saw their beloved Ulster transformed into a divided battlefield when Britain partitioned Ireland shortly after the war's end.

The play shows the erosion of the men's belief system, as they come to cling not to abstract notions of God and country, but to each other. It also illustrates the manner in which history can become an imprisoning cage, as the one survivor of the battle recommits himself to the discredited "cause" in a desperate effort to honor his fallen friends.