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Scena Theatre presents a musical version of James Joyce's most famous short story, The Dead, December 14 – January 12 at the ATLAS Performing Arts Center in DC 

Washington, DC, November 7, 2019 — The Directors of Scena Theatre are pleased to continue their 33rd Season in DC with a musical version of The Dead. This dynamic production is based on the greatest short story in James Joyce's acclaimed collection, Dubliners. Featuring a talented cast of company favorites and several newcomers. The Dead is directed by Scena’s Artistic Director Robert McNamara.

Press Night / Opening of The Dead is Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 8:00 pm at the ATLAS Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE, Washington, DC 20002. Members of the Press: please RSVP to to reserve your seat. Or, kindly request an alternate performance date, if needed. 

The Dead is a profound tale that wrestles with themes of lost love and the search for meaning in life. The story opens at an annual Christmas party where the young Gretta swoons while a renowned tenor sings at the piano. Her husband Gabriel feels lustful passion while he watches her. Later that night, he's devastated to learn she was actually moved by the memory of her first love, who died hopelessly obsessed with her. Realizing his marriage lacks such passion, Gabriel feels alone. Mortal. Lifeless. He detests his routine existence. And, he feels like a shadow of a person—flickering in a world where the living and ‘the dead’ converge. 

James Joyce is widely regarded as Ireland's most famous writer. Scena Theatre has a rich history of producing great Irish works here in DC since 1987—and Joyce is no exception. For years, Scena has mounted performances of Joyce's poems and letters including annual staged readings of his most famous poems on “Bloomsday”, June 16th. Other presentations include staging excerpts from Joyce's most profound novel, Ulysses.

Director Robert McNamara is thrilled to finally bring Joyce to Scena's main stage. He's especially eager to direct this story as a musical version. “Over the holidays, we want to present an enjoyable musical production that entertains. Joyce has a special place in my heart because his writing is so emotionally powerful and poignant. I lived in Dublin and founded a theatre company there—and the spirt of Joyce is everywhere you turn in that great, old city. Like Joyce's characters, Dubliners are genuine and congenial—and at the same time, guarded and wary. This makes for great storytelling.”

McNamara has 40 years of experience directing European and American dramas and is excited to turn this compelling story into an entertaining musical version for the entire family. Patrons can expect a lively, fast-paced performance filled with music, drama and soul. Scena’s last musical production was Blue Angel, a modern adaptation of the original German film featuring Marlene Dietrich, presented at the ATLAS in 2011. 

The Dead is suitable for all ages. Run time: 60 minutes. 


December 8 - 13, 2019 | 8:00 pm


Sat, Dec 14 - Sun, Jan 12, 2020 (Thurs-Sat 8:00 pm | Sun 3:00 pm)



$15 - $50 — THURS & SUN: Adults $40 | Students/Seniors w/ID $32; FRI & SAT: Adults $50 | Students/Seniors w/ID $40)


THE ATLAS | 1333 H St. NE, Washington, DC 20002


Email: | Phone: 571-216-5136


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Danielle Davy (AEA), Louis Lavoie, Andrea Hatfield (AEA), Buck O’Leary, Rosemary Regan, Leo Delgado, Taunya Ferguson, Carol McCaffrey, Mo O’Rourke, Stacy Whittle, John Gerard Healy, Emily K. Collins, Daniel Riker and Antonia Romm  


Robert McNamara (Director), Greg Watkins (Musical Director), Raquis Petree (Choreographer & Stage Manager), Alisa Mandel (Costume Designer), Carl Gudenius (Set Designer), Denise Rose (Sound Designer), Marianne Meadows (Lighting Designer), Cate Brewer (Assistant Director), Anne Nottage (Literary Manager), and Gabriele Jakobi (Dramaturg & Resident Director)

James Joyce (Feb 2, 1882 - Jan 13, 1941) was born in Rathgar, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland. He was a novelist, short story writer, poet, teacher, and literary critic. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde movement and is regarded as one of the most influential and important authors of the 20th Century. Joyce is best known for his novel, Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer's Odyssey are paralleled by Joyce’s literary alter ego, Stephen Dedalus. The novel is written in a variety of literary styles, most famously stream of consciousness. Other well-known works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). Other writings include three books of poetry, a play, his published letters and occasional journalism. Joyce was born into a middle-class family and was a brilliant student. He briefly attended the Christian Brothers-run O'Connell School before excelling at the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere, despite the chaotic family life imposed by his father's unpredictable finances. Joyce went on to attend University College Dublin. In 1904, in his early twenties, he emigrated to continental Europe with his partner (and later wife) Nora Barnacle. They lived in Trieste, Paris, and Zürich. While most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce's fictional universe centered on Dublin and features characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his early life. Joyce died at the young age of 58 and is buried in Zürich, Switzerland."

SCENA Theatre brings the best international theatre to Washington, DC and stimulates cultural exchange between theatre artists, locally and worldwide. Founded in 1987 under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert McNamara and Managing Director Amy Schmidt, SCENA produces an annual season of plays, seasonally staged readings, as well as a Workshop Series aimed at developing new works from around the globe. To learn more about our mission or past stage productions, please Click on the “About” link on the left menu.