Russell Thorburn

About Russell

Happy Birthday, James Joyce

The Playback

Growing Up Irish

The Long Labor of Seamus Murphy's Wife

Dylan Thomas in
New York

The Adventures of
Big Daddy and
Ned Nuclear

Drama Home

CD cover art by Doug Hagley

Happy Birthday, James Joyce

At his last good birthday party, February 2, 1938, James Joyce dances in his rue Edmond Valentin flat. His daughter Lucia appears as a hallucination. Nora, his wife whose biting tongue provided many lines for Ulysses, throws wine glasses at him. John Sullivan, Irish tenor, refuses to sing. Sam Beckett, family friend, spends the night avoiding Peggy Guggenheim, whose bed and money he renounced. They drink wine and party in spite of all this tension on the 56th birthday of James Joyce.

Happy Birthday, James Joyce began as a recording for Public Radio, with music provided by Patrick Lynch. Later, it was performed February 2, 2002, on Off-Off-Broadway, and then at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center, with the Samuel Beckett Players.

Written by Russell Thorburn, with music by Patrick Lynch, and available on CD.

Funded by CUPPAD and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Listen to a clip - 01

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Listen to a clip - 03


"We've always been dancing from sorrow. No matter how wild our steps, it always catches up. Where is that crazy Sullivan? Sing for Christ's sake. Don't sit at that piano as if before a coffin."

"Now you can really get him, Peggy. Here, take this broken shard and slice his throat. Jim won't mind if you cut deep. He was never a son to us in his dirty overcoat and ash-stained trousers."

from Happy Birthday,
James Joyce