The Silver Tassie (play)
The Silver Tassie is a four-act Expressionist play about the First World War, written between 1927 and 1928 by the Irish playwright Seán O'Casey
Seán O'Casey
Seán O'Casey was an Irish dramatist and memoirist. A committed socialist, he was the first Irish playwright of note to write about the Dublin working classes.- Early life:...

. It was O'Casey's fourth play and attacks imperialist
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 wars and the suffering that they cause. O'Casey described the play as "A generous handful of stones, aimed indiscriminately, with the aim of breaking a few windows. I don't think it makes a good play, but it's a remarkable one."

Production history

In 1928, W. B. Yeats rejected the play for the Abbey Theatre
Abbey Theatre
The Abbey Theatre , also known as the National Theatre of Ireland , is a theatre located in Dublin, Ireland. The Abbey first opened its doors to the public on 27 December 1904. Despite losing its original building to a fire in 1951, it has remained active to the present day...

 in Dublin. It premièred at the Apollo Theatre
Apollo Theatre
The Apollo Theatre is a Grade II listed West End theatre, on Shaftesbury Avenue in the City of Westminster. Designed by architect Lewin Sharp for owner Henry Lowenfield, and the fourth legitimate theatre to be constructed on the street, its doors opened on 21 February 1901 with the American...

 in the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 of London on 11 October 1929. It was directed by Raymond Massey
Raymond Massey
Raymond Hart Massey was a Canadian/American actor.-Early life:Massey was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Anna , who was born in Illinois, and Chester Daniel Massey, the wealthy owner of the Massey-Ferguson Tractor Company. Massey's family could trace their ancestry back to the American...

 and starred Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton was an English-American stage and film actor, screenwriter, producer and director.-Early life and career:...

 and Barry Fitzgerald
Barry Fitzgerald
Barry Fitzgerald was an Irish stage, film and television actor.-Life:He was born William Joseph Shields in Walworth Road, Portobello, Dublin, Ireland. He is the older brother of Irish actor Arthur Shields. He went to Skerry's College, Dublin, before going on to work in the civil service, while...

. The set design for act two was by Augustus John
Augustus John
Augustus Edwin John OM, RA, was a Welsh painter, draughtsman, and etcher. For a short time around 1910, he was an important exponent of Post-Impressionism in the United Kingdom....

. It ran for twenty-six performances. George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 and Lady Gregory
Augusta, Lady Gregory
Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory , born Isabella Augusta Persse, was an Irish dramatist and folklorist. With William Butler Yeats and Edward Martyn, she co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, and wrote numerous short works for both companies. Lady Gregory produced a number of...

 were both great admirers of the production.

Its Irish première was on 12 August 1935 at the Abbey Theatre, directed by Arthur Shields
Arthur Shields
Arthur Shields was an Irish stage and film actor.Born into an Irish Protestant family in Portobello, Dublin, he started acting in the Abbey Theatre when still a young man. He was the younger brother of Oscar-winning actor Barry Fitzgerald. An Irish nationalist, he fought in the Easter Rising of...

, though it ran for only five performances. Despite being popular, the controversy it caused led to O'Casey's permanent departure from Ireland.

More recent productions include a 1995 production at the Almeida Theatre
Almeida Theatre
The Almeida Theatre, opened in 1980, is a 325 seat studio theatre with an international reputation which takes its name from the street in which it is located, off Upper Street, in the London Borough of Islington. The theatre produces a diverse range of drama and holds an annual summer festival of...

 and a 2010 tour of Ireland (along with performances in The Lowry
The Lowry
The Lowry is a theatre and gallery complex situated on Pier 8 at Salford Quays, in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. It is named after the early-20th century painter, L. S. Lowry, known for his paintings of industrial scenes in North West England...

 in Manchester and the Oxford Playhouse) by the Druid Theatre Company
Druid Theatre Company
The Druid Theatre Company, founded in Galway in 1975, was the first Irish professional theatre company to be established outside Dublin. The theatre company was founded by Garry Hynes, Marie Mullen and Mick Lally after the three had met and put on productions together while members of the...



Mark Anthony Turnage adapted the play as an opera under the same title in 1999.


  • Quinn, Edward. 2006. A Dictionary of Literary and Thematic Terms. 2nd, rev. ed. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 978-0816062430.
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