Don't think in elegiac tones.
In this note, we see the reappearance of Friel’s mantra: ‘Don’t anticipate the ending.’ Characteristically, he has returned to this note with red pen and added some emphatic markings, which he often did for notes he came to regard as being particularly important to the writing process of a given play.
From MS 37,104/1, National Library of Ireland; copyright Brian Friel Estate, reproduced by permission.
24 May 1989. A.
Don’t think in elegaic tones. All these people are spirited, even fiery. Don’t anticipate the ending.
Be more precise (in your own mind) about Gerry’s Republicanism. How important is it to him? And how welcome or how foreign is it in that household (Don’t forget Fr. Jack, the chaplain.)
In that final scene – Gerry going to Spain, Rose to London, Fr. Jack to silent senility – does Fr Jack wear his officer’s hat at a drunken angle? Officer’s hat and dishevelled officer’s jacket? Then does Gerry (for Spain) take the jacket? Better – the hat.
The emerging key figures: –
Fr. Jack (more visual than verbal)
And this other figure that resists clarification and centrality: Gerry’s wife? the good-looking sister? sister-in-law? the absent wife? the dead wife? Christina?
Friel's creative process
Friel scholar Zosia Kuczyńska gives an overview of some of the distinctive features of playwright Brian Friel’s creative process as revealed by his literary archives at the National Library of Ireland.
Don't anticipate the ending
Brian Friel penned this note to self whilst writing Dancing at Lughnasa (1990).
Belfast Book Festival Trailer
A key phase in the development of ‘Don’t anticipate the ending’ was the showcasing of work-in-progress. This is a trailer for an illustrated talk at the Belfast Book Festival 2019, during which Friel scholar Zosia Kuczynska spoke about the process of creating new work by Jessie Keenan and Robbie Blake from creative encounters with the Brian Friel Papers. Keenan and Blake then performed early versions of ‘So what is surfacing’ and ‘Running the ending’ respectively. This trailer uses material from the first full recordings of Robbie Blake’s ‘Running the ending’, filmed in and around the UCD Humanities Institute in May 2019.