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Scena Theatre is pleased to present Three by Yeats, a trio of classic plays by Ireland’s great writer, William Butler Yeats, now opening Friday May 12 at 7:30 pm.

Washington, DC, April 13, 2023 (REVISED 4/19) — The Directors of Scena Theatre continue their 34th Season in Washington with Three by Yeats by William Butler Yeats (Ireland). This fascinating and entertaining show features drama, music and song while showcasing three of Yeats’ most acclaimed plays, At the Hawk's Well, Purgatory and The Death of Cuchulain. All three incorporate elements of Irish mythology. At the Hawk's Well was the first play written in English that employed many features of the Japanese Noh Theatre. 

Press Night is now Friday, May 12, 2023 — 7:30 pm Curtain, at the DC Arts Center, located at 2438 18th St. NW Washington, DC, 20009. Press Members: please RSVP to to reserve your seat, or request an alternate performance date, if needed. 

Scena has a rich history of staging Irish dramas by many great writers featuring both local and global talent. In past productions, director Robert McNamara has flown in actors from around the globe to perform in roles that require an authentic accent or characterization. A few include Ireland’s Barry McEvoy (Public EnemyThe Weir and The Night Alive), Scotland’s Gordon Fulton (The Weir) and Brian Mallon from Wales (The Weir, The Night Alive, The Seafarer and Playing Burton). Three by Yeats is a crash course in the depth and beauty of the writings of W.B Yeats. Patrons will savor the beautiful language and imagery, and they will remember it long after leaving the theatre.” 

At the Hawk's Well (1916) is based on the tales of Cuchulain the mythological hero of ancient Ulster. It is set by a dried up well on a desolate mountainside—guarded by a hawk-like woman. An Old Man has kept camp there for 50 years hoping to drink the miraculous waters that seldom rise up. Cuchulain arrives seeking immortality, and the Old Man recounts his wasted lifetime there and claims the Guardian is supernatural and carries a curse of violence. Suddenly, the Guardian falls into a trance, arises, and dances like a hawk. She exits, and Cuchulain pursues her as the waters bubble up.

The Death of Cuchulain was excitedly composed by Yeats during his final three months, and he was still making corrections two days before he died in 1939. Cuchulain, the wounded warrior and Yeats’ dying alter-ego, is taunted by characters from his life, like Eithne, his lover; the Morrigu, a crow-headed war goddess; old Aoife, whose son he killed; and the Blind Man who witnessed Cuchulain’s killing his son and fight with the sea waves. The play ends with a ballad singing how the revival of the Cuchulain saga inspired Irish identity and the 1916 rebels, who died with Cuchulain’s “tragic gaiety.”

Purgatory is a drama that tells a family saga of decline and fall via an Old Man (the father) and a Boy (his 16-year-old son). It is set outside the former family home—which the Old Man's father had drunkenly burned down—leading him to kill his father as the building perished. The Boy is skeptical and repelled by the story of losing his own mother as she gave birth to him and the family’s subsequent decline.

PRESS NIGHT  Friday, May 12 at 7:30 pm


PERFORMANCES:  May 12 – June 4  (Thursday – Saturday 7:30 pm  |  Sunday 2:30 pm)



Price:  $40

Venue:  DC Arts Center, Adams Morgan:  2438 18th St. NW Washington, DC, 20009

Press:  |  Phone: 703-217-9007

Photos: (available May 9 — Click on Press, on Left Sidebar)


At the Hawk's Well

Singers: Danielle Davy, Aniko Olah and Melissa Robinson

Old Man:  Ron Litman

Young Man:  Lee Ordeman


of the Well:  Ellie Nicoll

Understudies: Kim Curtis “(Old Man”)


Old Man:  Buck O'Leary

Boy:  Robert Sheire

The Death of Cuchulain

Musician:  David Johnson

Old Man:  Robert McNamara

Cuchulain:  Lee Ordeman

Eithne Inguba: Danielle Davy

Aoife:  Ellie Nicoll

The Morrigu:  Melissa Robinson and Danielle Davy

A Blind Man:  Ron Litman

A Servant:  Robert Sheire

Singer: Danielle Davy

Singer, Piper, 

Drummer:  David Johnson

Understudies: Kim Curtis ("Cuchulain”) and Stacy Whittle (“Aoife”)

Choreographer:  Kim Curtis


/ Dance Coach: Lee Ordeman


Director: Robert McNamara, Sets: John D. Antone, Lighting: Marianne Meadows, Costumes: Mei Chen, Sound: Denise Rose, Musical Direction: Scott Morrison, Choreographer: Kim Curtis, Movement Consultant: Lee Ordeman, Assistant Director: Anne Nottage, and Stage Manager: Sarah Graham.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, he also served as an Irish Senator for two terms in his later years. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival. Along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others he founded the historic Abbey Theatre, where he served as Chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature—the first Irishman so honored for what members of the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form, gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed his greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928), The Winding Stair, and Other Poems (1929). Yeats was a very good friend of Indian Bengali poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

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.