Rory & the Devil
The assassination of Lord Lifford, a tyrannical British landlord, along a country road in Donegal in 1878 remains one of Ireland’s great unsolved mysteries...
Nearly a century later during the height of The Troubles, in a rural pub on the border of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, Mary Friel, a barmaid, strives to maintain harmony amongst the men in her life. When her secret British lover unexpectedly arrives he is interrupted by another stranger, an American cousin looking for insight into his family history. Ancestral legends are revisited and a cycle of violence is revealed. Can they overcome their history, or will the cycle continue?
Originally from the beaches of Central Florida, David McElwee is a NYC-based actor/playwright. His is the youngest of 4. His mother dedicated her professional life to making sure kids learned to read and his father to the pursuit of social justice and theological education within the Catholic Church, were he served as a Deacon. As a skinny Irish kid in The Sunshine State surfing seemed like a sure way to get a sunburn--so David decided to hide out at Cocoa Village Playhouse, a vibrant community theater, doing plays.
After graduating from Florida State University with a BFA in Acting David performed at Florida Repertory Theatre, Theatre Row, HERE, B Street, The Kitchen Theatre, Actors's Theatre of Louisville, Signature Theatre, Guild Hall, CATF, and Lincoln Center. He won a special Drama Desk Award as part of the ensemble of A.R. Gurney's The Wayside Motor Inn directed by Lila Neugebauer. David also works as a Teaching Artist with Manhattan Theatre Club.
Rory and the Devil is David McElwee's playwriting and directing debut. He was inspired to tell this story by the engaging and often outlandish stories he was told in his Irish-American family. When he was very young his father's two uncles, Hugh and Neil McElwee, both immigrants from Donegal whose first language was Irish, lived with his family. They were characters. Even though Hughie was in a wheelchair and Neil walked slower than pond water, after reading the newspaper front to back, they still made their way a mile down the road to Rick's Pub for a few pints. They would then mosey home to read the paper again before dinner. Occasionally they had the energy for a great story, including one poem Hugh had memorized about three assassins who helped end the tyranny of landlordism in Ireland.
In fourth grade David was shown a shoebox containing an old newspaper and that poem written out. Imagine his Catholic School teacher's surprise when for show and tell the Deacon and 1st grade teacher's son brought out an old Irish paper with headline: "Lord Leitrim Assassinated!" "That was my great-grandfather and great-great-uncle!".
Working as a bartender in NYC, David came to recognize the inherent theatricality of a bar. He listened as stories were told by a cast of characters that would have been impossible to fabricate. He realized that not much is needed to tell a great story: A dirty pint glass can become a chalice, a wet umbrella can be an antique rifle an old man can become young again, and a young woman can seem beaten down by life. These are the things David's theatre is made from.
About the Playwright/Director:
Marissa Rivera is humbled and honored to be David’s right hand woman on for the world premiere of Rory and the Devil. She’s a proud FSU and NBC Diversity Showcase alum. She created and hosts the all female mic at Flappers Comedy Club, and she’s graced the Laugh Factory, Hollywood Improv, and Comedy Store stages (amongst others). Most recently, she appeared on the season finale of 9-1-1 on Fox. You can also spot her in several national commercials, interrupting your favorite TV shows.