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A Man of No Importance Glossary

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3 2 Opening Stage Directions - St. Imelda’s is not a real church in Dublin but St.
Imelda is the patron saint of first communion and
her enthusiasm in her piety mirror’s Alfie’s love of
theatre and devotion to Wilde.
- 1960’s Ireland saw the end of censorship in the
country as well as the end of protectionism in
economic policies as the country opened up to
International trade and industry. RTE (one of 4 Irish
TV channels) began in 1961. The civil rights
movement stirred in the North as The Troubles
began.
- In 1961, the Dublin bus system had a fleet of 640
double decker buses and 90 single decker. One man
operation of the buses began in 1963. The first
forward entrance/rear engine buses came in 1966.
- Ticket Dispensing Machine and ticket (London)
pictured at the left
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3 2 ALFIE: How beautiful is the Princess Salome Alfie paraphrases the Syrian’s lines from the beginning
tonight! She is like the shadow of a white rose in a of Oscar Wilde’s Salome.
mirror of silver…
4 3 ALFIE: You are always looking at her. You look at Alfie paraphrases the lines of the Page of Herodias in
her too much. response, supporting the dialogue by himself.
4 3 ALFIE: Ah! I have kissed thy mouth Jokanaan. Alfie speaks the end of Salome’s final speech.
Jokanaan is the name of John the Baptist in Salome.
She asks for his head on a silver platter as reward for
dancing.
5 4 FR KENNY: “There’s another punishment to fit the Father Kenny quotes from the song “A More Humane
crime.” Mikado” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado. They
ALFIE: Spare me your Gilbert and Sullivan, man. were famous for writing English operettas around 1880.
5 4 FR. KENNY: You should have told me this Salome Wilde originally wrote Salome in French, and his
was a dirty play. companion/lover, Bosie, Lord Alfred Douglas,
translated it. Sarah Berhardt was set to perform it in
London and it was stopped almost immediately after
the English translation circulated.
5 4 ALFIE: A movie’s cold comfort for a man who’s - Irish people don’t say movie – they say film and it’s
lost his theatre. “Blessed are the poor of got two syllables: Fill-um.
imagination, for they shall inherit the cinemas.” - Alfie bastardizes the beatitudes.
5 4 FR. KENNY: the Abbey Theatre, St. Imelda’s The Abbey Theatre is the national theatre of Ireland.
players were not. Hell, you weren’t even the Gate. The players developed their own style of acting for
intimate spaces while they essentially also created a
new style of Irish drama. Many of those actors went on
to be some of the first film stars. The Abbey began to
be affected by censorship indirectly, and out of this and
a need for a more diverse European and not solely Irish
theatre, came the Gate, founded by a gay couple. Also,
in response to both of these theatres being established,
Ireland’s amateur theatre scene grew exponentially at
the same time contemporary with this play.
6 5 ALFIE: Ging’s Theatricals will be wanting Ging’s was a famous costumier located in Dame Street,
Herodias’s crown back… the main shopping street on the south side of Dublin. It
has since closed.

7 6 MRS. GRACE: Mr. Worthing! Rise, sir, from this Lady Bracknell’s lines from Oscar Wilde’s The
semi-recumbent posture! Importance of Being Earnest.
7 6 MISS CROWE: Oh, Hamlet, thou has cleft my heart Gertrude’s lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
in twain.
8 7 ALL DIALOGUE Characters become self-reflexive as they stage the
events that led to the first scene.
8 7 MRS. CURTIN: The Tragedy of Alfie Byrne, A A Man of No Importance mirrors the title of Wilde’s A
Dublin Coachman or A Man of No Importance. Woman of No Importance and one of the final lines of
ERNIE: I think you mean The Comedy of Alfie the same play.
Byrne.
10 9 ALFIE: Me darlin’ Bosie! This is the nickname of Wilde’s male lover.
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10 9 ROBBIE: We were playing snooker till all hours. Snooker is a game for a pool table where players use
the white ball, the cue ball, to pocket the other balls in a
set order.
10 9 ALFIE: Golden Hair glinting in the winter sun. Bosie had blonde hair.
10 9 ALFIE: Drive on, fair Apollo. Race your engines, o Here Alfie compares Robbie to the god of sun, poetry
rare Athenian youth. and light, to name a few. He also mirrors in his
admiration the classical relationships between older and
younger men.
10 9 ROBBIE: I got a request. Do us that one, you know, Robbie asks Alfie to recite “The Harlot’s House,” by
“The dead are dancing with the dead.” Oscar Wilde. The poem makes use of the uncanny
through several puppet characters. Like Salome it
heavily involves dancing in ways that are indecent.
11 10 ALFIE: … That is if you won’t be telling the A sodality is a Roman Catholic group that is task-
Sodality, Mrs. Patrick. oriented.
12 11 ALFIE: A Guinness a day keeps the doctor away. A classic ad for Guinness in the series of “Guinness is
Good for You.”
13 12 ALFIE: An ordinary sandwich immortalized in The In The Importance of Being Earnest, Algernon orders
Importance of Being Earnest at the Theatre Royal, cucumbers for sandwiches for his Aunt Augusta, which
Haymarket, on February 14, 1895 – a night the he proceeds to eat all of and then blames his butler for
mundane became sublime. not being able to secure them at the market. Thus,
Algernon keeps up the appearance of good manners
without exercising them. In a similar way, Alfie uses
these details to mask the particulars of his own life and
identity.
13 12 ALFIE: “Symphony in Yellow” by Oscar Fingal In this poem, Wilde describes a London street scene in
O’Flahartie Wills Wilde. terms of yellow hues he witnesses. Most notably, it
begins with mention of a bus.
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15 14 ALFIE: The dawn with silver sandaled feet,/ crept Alfie literally is talking about a walk of shame when he
like a frightened girl. introduces Miss Rice and he still thinks she is
wonderful and pure.
16 15 ALFIE: Home, James. Take the scenic route. Essentially, this is the length of the city, again. They
Through Phoenix Park, past parliament house, and are on the North side of Dublin.
straight on to dreamland.
18 17 ALFIE: THREE BLOCKS DOWN COLLINS Might be Collins Ave. Irish people always say ‘street’
‘avenue’ ‘road’ etc, because many of them share the
same name except for that differentiation.
18 17 ALFIE: Eccola, mia sorella. Aprite gli occhi. “Here, my sister. Open your eyes.”
18 17 ALFIE: It’s spaghetti, with a Bolognese sauce. Bolognese is just a meat sauce.
19 18 LILY: I’m not your sister for nothing, Alfie Fintan Alfie has one of the same middle names as Oscar
Byrne. Wilde. Fintan means white flame or white bull. It is the
name of an Irish saint.
19 18 LILY: A girl! Oh, Alfie! Well that is the power of Nine signifies the nine days the apostles prayed
the nine weeks of St. Jude. together between Jesus’s ascension and the Pentecost.
St. Jude delivers our prayers to God.
20 19 LILY: IN THE HOPES ST LAURETTA WOULD I can’t find a Saint Lauretta. There are a couple Lauras.
WEEP Perhaps its useful to think of her as a Mary figure?
21 20 ALFIE: It’s nothing to do with the Bible or nine This is not true for most people, and ignores the fact
weeks on your knees to St. Jude. It’s to do with art. that art is always implicitly political in some way. This
again shows Alfie’s naiveté and his passion.
21 20 LILY: BUT HERE I AM NOW LOOKING AFTER The way inheritance works and is socially accepted in
YOU STILL Ireland makes this a more common narrative than not.
More single women leave Ireland than any other group
because there are so few things for them. It says a lot
about Lily that she’s stayed and that she hasn’t married.
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21 20 LILY: I DON’T EVEN MIND IF THE GIRL ISN’T True, in more ways than one. Abortion is still illegal in
VIRGINAL Ireland, so many girls leave to London for this
FAT CHANCE, THESE DAYS. procedure. Women also leave to find work by
THERE’S PROBABLY THREE OF US necessity.
LEFT IN ALL IRELAND
22 21 LILY: I’ll be sitting down, watching Lucille Ball Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy fame!
23 22 CARNEY: this time I will give you an Algernon for Algernon is one of the main characters in Wilde’s The
the ages. Importance of Being Earnest.
25 24 CARNEY: GRAB THE OLD TAPS Tap shoes
25 24 MRS. GRACE: Maggie is perhaps best remembered Katisha is the old lady who loves Nanki-Poo in The
for her Katisha in The Mikado and her portrayal of Mikado. St Joan might be Bernard Shaw’s play or it
St. Joan. might be a church pageant.
26 25 BALDY: Mr. O’Shea is a retired publican. He owned a pub.
26 25 MRS. CROWE: Oona Crowe was Miss Prism in last Oona means “lamb.” Miss Prism is the governess in
season’s performance of The Importance… but her Importance who put the baby in the handbag.
favorite role remains the title one in our centennial
production of Peter Pan.
26 25 ERNIE: Ernest Lally will be remember for his Mustard Seed is a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s
sterling portrayal of Mustard Seed… Dream, and a small role.
27 26 RASHER: Rasher Flynn is a founding member of Pygmalion is a play by George Bernard Shaw, another
St. Imelda’s and appeared in our inaugural anglo-Irish playwright. Most commonly people are
production of Pygmalion as Colonel Pickering. In familiar with the story because of My Fair Lady. In the
his youth, Rasher was an All Ireland Gymnast. play, he comes to meet Henry Higgins and take part in
his experimental phonetics. All-Ireland teams are like
Olympic qualifying.
27 26 CARNEY: O that this too too solid flesh would Carney quotes Hamlet during the gravedigger scene.
melt!
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27 26 CARNEY: Alas, poor Yorrick. I knew him, Horatio. Carney quotes Hamlet from the gravedigger scene. The
skull is Yorrick, the late court jester.
28 27 MRS. CURTIN: Maureen Curtin was a child star of Mrs. Curtin probably would have had a Shirley
the Dublin Music Hall and has kept her skills well- Temple-esque act that she performed. Her children
honed. … The Curtins’ have nine children: Deirdre, either has names from drama or classical Irish names
Padric, Rosaline, Fintan, Rebecca, Juliet, Anton, (Deirdre, Padric, Fintan…)
George Bernard, and Portia.
29 28 BALDY: My vote is for An Ideal Husband. This is another play by Oscar Wilde.
29 28 ALFIE: A princess of Judea does not pay to ride a Alfie has already cast Miss Rice as Salome, the
Dublin motor coach. princess of Judea.
30 29 CARSON: If I find a tinker without a ticket… A tinker is actually a really terrible thing to call
someone. Tinkers are travellers, beggars, gypsies. In
Irish superstition, it is wise to welcome Tinkers into
your home and feed them.
31 30 ADELE: I expected more from city folk, but I guess This sums up public opinion of single women.
human nature is what it is, big city or village: mean- Especially, given her circumstance, it’s unlikely anyone
spirited and vile. A single girl is the butt of anyone’s would be kind to her if they knew.
jokes.
33 32 ADELE: I’M FROM ROSCOMMON… Roscommon is in the West of Ireland, north of Galway
and landlocked. The western part of this is more
THEY HAVE THEIR FOOTBALL important than the ‘nothern.’ The West of Ireland is
poorer and more isolated. Cromwell sent the Catholics
west and since then, it’s been regarded as extremely
different. People in the West think Dublin is very
cosmopolitan and EXTREMELY far even though it’s
like a four hour drive.
And because she’s from the west, it’s Gaelic Football.
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33 32 ADELE: MY ROYAL PALACE IS Boarding houses would have been the only housing
THE BACKROOM OF A BOARDING HOUSE, option for single women. An older lady, married or
BRICK WALL FOR A VIEW. widowed, probably would have been the landlord, and
guests and general use of other parts of the house
would have been highly restricted. Curfews would have
been enforced.
33 32 ADELE: YOU CAN ONLY TALK ABOUT Think again! Potatoes are serious business, so this line
POTATOES SO LONG is more a comment on Adele’s dream of something
more.
35 34 ALFIE: It’s about John the Baptist. John the Baptist = Jokanaan
35 34 FR. KENNY: John the Baptist. You’ll need lots of John the Baptist preached the imminence of God’s
water then, Mr. Byrne, a River Jordan, so to speak. Final Judgment and baptized those who repented in
preparation for it.
37 36 ALFIE: You still saving up your coppers to go to The Beatles came to New York in 1964, their first trip
London and become the fifth Beatle? to the United States. They were the biggest deal.
38 37 MRS. GRACE: “Give me my robe, put on my This is from a Cleopatra speech in Shakespeare’s
crown, I have immortal longings in me.” Antony and Cleopatra, Act 5, Scene 2.
39 38 BALDY: Because we found someone new. People “mug” is a colloquialism for a face, as it “Beat your
are tired of looking at your old mug. mug” = put on makeup, etc.
40 39 ALFIE: Mr. William Shakespeare said it best. “O for Alfie quotes the prologue to Shakespeare’s Henry V.
a muse of fire, that would ascend/ The brightest
heaven of invention! A kingdom for a stage, princes His joke about Shakespeare being Irish is rooted in both
to act/ And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.” admiration of his poetry, and an Irish sensibility where
Language like that almost makes you think the man culturally they will own, or try to own, anything
was Irish! When he spoke for his rounded O of a popular.
theatre, he spoke for all of us… The ‘rounded O’ is the Globe theatre.
st
40 39 ALFIE: AT OUR 1 PUNCH AND JUDY SHOW P&J is a violent British puppet show
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41 40 ALFIE: At rise. The terrace of Herod’s palace. A Herod was the King of Judea. In the gospel of Matthew
bloody moon. he orders the Massacre of the Innocents around the
birth of Jesus, where all male children were slaughterd
so that he could avoid losing his thrown.
Blood moons occur during some Lunar Eclipses.
The bible says, regarding blood moons:
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon
into blood, before the great and terrible day of the lord”
Joel 2:31
In Acts 2:20, the verse is the same but “terrible” is
changed to “notable”
41 40 Robbie is stripped to the waist as he works to put a
tire on a rim.

42 41 ALFIE: She’s like a dove that has strayed. Doves are symbols of peace.
42 41 ALFIE: She has never abandoned herself to men like In context of Irish poetry, this is an important
other goddesses. statement. Irish goddesses were loose ladies, but their
sexuality bestowed power upon the Irish Kings.
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43 42 ROBBIE: I WENT TO THE PANTOMIME ONCE Pantomime is a kind of puppet theatre. It is
inexplicably popular especially at Christmas time in
Ireland. The Gaiety continues to produce pantomime
regularly throughout the year in Dublin.
44 43 ROBBIE: THE DEALERS HAWKIN’ AND THE The dealers would be people selling things on the
DOCKERS YELLIN street.
THE BUSKERS BANGING AND THE RAGMEN Dockers would be ship workers – Dublin is an
RINGING BELLS important port city! It was considered the second city of
the Empire when it was under British rule.
Buskers are street performers.
A ragman is a kind of person who would collect old
wares from homes to sell to merchants.
46 45 ALFIE: A Virgin Mary, please. This is a Bloody Mary with no vodka. So essentially
Alfie has ordered tomato juice.
47 46 MATE #2: We all sing here. We’re Irish, we’re Singing also has huge historical significance in Ireland.
drunk, what else are we gonna do? It’s totally likely that someone would burst into song in
a pub and that others might join in. But the song Alfie
sings is more in the traditional style of sean-nós
singing, in that it is ornamented and lyrical, although
it’s not in Irish.
48 47 MATE #2: I thought John McCormack was dead. John McCormack is really famous classical Irish tenor
who was probably most popular in the 1910s.
48 47 KITTY: Would you like a Woodbine to steady your Woodbines are British cigarettes named after the
nerves? woodbine flower.
49 48 BRETON BERET, a bad sort He’s wearing a beret. Literally, that’s it.
51 50 CARNEY: Puppets! What kind? Hand puppets or Hand puppets would be of the variety of paper bag and
marionettes? sock puppets. Marionettes are controlled by strings.
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51 50 CARNEY: Without access you get salaciousness. Salaciousness is becoming lustful.
52 51 LILY: NOT ONLY THAT, HE … COOKS For some reason, more conservative societies think it is
odd when men know how to cook or enjoy it.
53 52 LILY: But you don’t mean like St. James’ Hospital, St James is the largest teaching hospital in Dublin. It is
do you? associated with Trinity College, Dublin.
55 54 ALFIE: “One should always be in love. That is why The marriage quote is from Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of
one should never marry.”… No importance.
“O singer of Persephone! In the dim meadows The poetry is from “Theocitus: A Villanelle” by Oscar
desolate, dost thou remember Sicily?” Wilde.
56 55 OSCAR WILDE: “sins of the flesh are nothing. Sins This is from an epigram of Wilde’s.
of the soul alone are shameful.”
57 56 MISS CROWE: When you’re speaking to me This is wrong and upstaging is when you draw attention
always be sure to face away from the audience… from the main action of a performance.
It’s called upstaging.
60 59 LILY: HE WOULD LOVE TO INVITE YOU FOR In this particular community in Dublin, tea would mean
TEA dinner.
65 64 ALFIE: Adele, the love that dares not speak its “the love that dare not speak its name” is a line from a
name, do you know what that is? poem called Two Loves by Lord Alfred Douglas, Oscar
Wilde’s Bosie. It was used as evidence in his trial. In a
way, this is Alfie trying to come out to Adele.
66 65 OSCAR WILDE: The only way to get rid of This is a quote from Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture
temptation is to yield to it. of Dorian Gray. A young man sells his soul to the devil
so that he may live forver young so long as he does not
see the portrait of himself that is aging in his place.
71 70 CARNEY: What can you expect from a country England and Ireland have a lot of tension. Carney
that’s still a monarchy? They need a good exorcism. suggests England should get the devil out.
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72 71 ALFIE: If I can only produce one beautiful work of This is from De Profundis by Oscar Wilde.
art, I shall be able to rob malice of its venom,
cowardice of its sneer, and pluck out the tongue of
scorn by the roots.
77 76 RASHER: THE ELECTRICIAN OWES ME A “Th” sounds are hard “t’s”. Ting or Tree. Sometimes
THING OR THREE Irish people have a softer sound more like the “th”
we’re used to, but that would be for middle class/south
side residents.
82 81 ALFIE: It’s the part. Even the great Sara Bernhardt Salome was written for Sara Bernhardt to perform. She
had trouble with it. was one of the great actresses of the late 19th century.
85 84 ALFIE: I know who you are: Queensberry! This is like if Alfie had called him Judas. Queensberry
refers to John Douglas, 9th Earl of Queenberry and
Bosie’s father, who had a huge role in the downfall of
Oscar Wilde.
87 86 MRS. PATRICK: I’ve got to be home before Lawrence of Arabia is a film from 1962 that runs 3
Lawrence of Arabia lets out. I’m grateful for long hours and 48 minutes. It stars the Irish actor Peter
films. O’Toole.
She would pronounce film with two syllables: fil-um.
88 87 BALDY: He parted his hair down the middle, Mr. Baldy refers to Oscar Wilde’s hair:
Byrne. That’s it! Straight down the middle.
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88 87 MRS.CURTIN: Somebody get him a green Oscar Wilde did tend to favor a green carnation,
carnation. however there’s nothing conclusive that indicates it was
ERNIE: He never went out without a green a symbol or signal in the gay community. Wilde
carnation. encouraged his circle to wear green carnations. In terms
RASHER: It’s how they know one another. It’s their of his idea that nature should mirror art, the unnatural
signal. green color of the flower accomplishes that. The claim
is often made that the gay community in Paris at the
time favored green carnations and early sexologists
claimed green was the favorite color of “inverts,” the
label they gave to homosexuals.
90 89 ALFIE’s transformation is complete. He looks very
much like Oscar Wilde.
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90 89 OSCAR WILDE: See that house? I was born there. The site of Wilde’s childhood home is in Merrian
They put the plaque on the wrong house. You gotta Square, what would have been a very fashionable
love the Irish! georgian home on the south side of Dublin. Today the
house is the campus of The American College. The
house he was born in is on Westland Row.
91 90 ALFIE: “If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or This is from Wilde’s Phrases and Philosophies for Use
later, to be found out.” of the Young.
91 90 ALFIE: We have lived our lives in a land of dreams. This is from a poem by Wilde called “Her Voice.”
How sad it seems.
93 92 ALFIE: There’s only one thing for me now; absolute This is a quote from Wilde’s Epistola: In Carcere Et
humility. Vinculus., a letter he wrote to Bosie while imprisoned
in Reading Gaol (Irish work for jail).
93 92 ALFIE: England. No, Paris. No. Ah, yes, up there, in Alfie lists the places where Wilde lived. His fixation on
the stars. Take me up to the stars, officer, that’s the sky might be a belief that Wilde is in heaven and
where I live. could be some kind of peace-making within himself,
reconciling religion with their identities.
93 92 LILY: A fondue is a dog. Shiatsu, fondue, a Chinese A fondue is a Swiss food with melted cheese or
dog. chocolate. Shiatsu is a kind of massage. A shih tzu is a
Chinese dog.
94 93 POLICEMAN: Look at him, man! He’s a poofter! Poofter is a variation of poof which is an offensive term
for a homosexual.
95 94 MISS CROWE: Our own Profumo Scandal rocking The Profumo Affair was a British political scandal in
St. Imelda’s to its foundations. 1961 between John Profumo, the Secretary of State for
war and Christine Keeler who was 19 at the time.
96 95 ALFIE: It’s your favorite, sweetbreads. Sweetbreads are the pancreas of a calf or lamb. But
spagetti is too weird for her…
98 97 CARSON: You’re lucky you’re not in prison. Homosexuality was a crime in Ireland until 1967.
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99 98 ADELE: I came to say goodbye. I have to go to Many many young women went to England to have
England. their children out of wedlock. Many young women also
went to England and other places in the continent to get
abortions.
102 101 ROBBIE turns on the overhead lights. His hair is Robbie wears blonde hair like Bosie. He becomes the
alarmingly blonde. Golden Love.
103 102 BALDY: There’s a chance we can use the hall at St. Heartbreak House is a play by George Bernard Shaw
Dunon’s. They’re looking to do a Heartbreak which grapples with opinions of World War 1.
House.
105 104 ROBBIE: Like two doomed ships that pass in storm Robbie recites from Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol
We had crossed each other’s way: which he wrote in exile in France after his release from
But we made no sign, we said no word, jail. He had been convicted of homosexual offenses and
We had no word to say. was sentenced to two years hard labor. The poem
For we did not meet in the holy night narrates the execution of another prisoner during
But in the shameful day. Wilde’s time.
The prison wall was round us both,
Two outcast men we were
The world had thrust us from its heart
And God from out his care.