Rutherford Mayne

Life
1878-1967 [pseud. of Samuel Waddell]; b. Japan, spoke Japanese; br. of Helen Waddell; great-grand nephew of Mayne Reid; ed. Belfast, RBAI; grad. engineering, RUI; worked in Irish Land Commission, and retired [1950] as Chief Inspector and Lay Commissioner; m. Josephine Campbell, sister of Joseph Campbell [information from Mary Campbell]; joined Ulster Literary Theatre, 1904, acting in Belfast, Dublin and English cities, sometimes in his own plays; acted successfully in the lead role [Brutus Jones] in O’Neill’s Emperor Jones; toured with Mollison Repertory Company; nine plays contributed to Ulster Literary Theatre 1906-23, incl. The Turn of the Road (1906) which attacks Puritanism and ‘Philistinism’, The Drone (1908), an early kitchen drama, first performed at the Abbey and The Troth (1909), set in Co. Antrim and played in London for the Irish Literary Society with Joseph Campbell, Alice O’Dea, Whitford Kane and A. E. Morrow in the cast; others plays incl. Bridgehead (1934), based on land commission affairs; The Red Turf (1911), one act agrarian tragedy; withdrew from Literary Theatre and wrote Peter (1930) for the Abbey; appointed, aged 82, a trustee of the Lyric Players Theatre, Belfast; d. Dalkey, 25 Feb.; papers presented to Belfast Linenhall Library by Flann & Mary Campbell, the copyright holders. NCBE DIW DIL/2 DIB FDA OCIL

Works
Plays, The Turn of the Road, A Play in Two Scenes and an Epilogue (Dublin: Maunsel 1907; rep. Dublin: Duffy 1950); The Drone: A Play in Three Acts (Dublin: Maunsel 1909; rep. ltd. edn. Linen Hall Lib., 1993]; The Troth: A Play in One Act (Dublin: Maunsel 1909); A Prologue [1-act play], in The Dublin Magazine, 2 (June 1925), pp.723-25; Bridge-head: A Play in Three Acts (London: Constable 1939), and Do., in Curtis Canfield, ed., Plays of Changing Ireland (NY: Macmillan 1936); Peter: A comedy in Three Acts and A Prologue and Epilogue (Dublin: Duffy 1964), and Do. trans. by Seán Mac Maolain as Peter/Peadar (Oifig an tSoláthair 1945).

Reprint Edns., John Killen, ed. & intro., Selected Plays of Rutherford Mayne (Belfast: QUB/IIS 1997), 246pp. [‘The Drone’, ‘Peter’, ‘and The Bridgehead’]; Selected Plays of Rutherford Mayne (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1999), [‘The Turn of the Road’, ‘The Drone’, ‘The Troth’, ‘Red Turd’, ‘Bridgehead’, ‘Peter’, ‘and the Phantoms’].

Short Stories, ‘The Freeholder’, in The Irish Review, 1 (Nov. 1911), pp.432-34.

[ top ]

Criticism
Sam Hanna Bell, The Theatre in Ulster (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1972); Whitford Kane, Are We All Met? (London: Elkin, Mathews & Marot 1931); Margaret McHenry, The Ulster Theatre in Ireland (Philadelphia UP 1931); John Killen, ‘Rutherford Mayne Re-Assessed’, a exhibition at the Linen Hall Library (11 Nov.- 27 Nov. 1993), in Linen Hall Review (Autumn 1993), pp.12-13.

[ top ]

References
D. E. S. Maxwell, Modern Irish Drama (Cambridge UP 1984), lists The Turn of the Road (Maunsel 1907, rep. Duffy 1950); The Drone (Maunsel 1909); Bridgehead (Lon. 1939), and do. in Curtis Canfield, Plays of Changing Ireland (NY 1936). Remarks at p.x, p.xii & p.16 [Ervine more fully than Cousins, Mayne, the cartographer of Ulster province], 81; on plays, Bridgehead xii; The Drone x, 16 [wide popularity], 65-66 [an ambiguous statement, all these plays were first presented in Belfast, as was Rutherford Mayne’s The Drone at the Abbey by the Ulster Literary Theatre].

Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), cites 9 plays written for Ulster Lit. Theatre, 1906-23; Mayne withdrew form long association with Ulster theatre in 1930; trustee of Lyric Players in 1960, aged 82; plays examine rural life of Co. Down; Ulster work ethic in The Turn of the Road, in which Robbie John Granahan leaves home rather than yield to his father’s stern demand that he throw down his violin; The Drone is a kitchen comedy in which easy-gong Daniel Murray spends his time puttering at worthless mechanical invention; The Troth harrowing account of agreement between a Catholic and Protestant farmer to murder their unfeeling landlord, each to care for the family of the other; Red Turf, in which Martin Burke is goaded by a termagant wife into killing a neighbour over a patch of land in Galway; Peter, ded. Lennox Robinson, a dream in which he fails his studies and goes to work as a gigolo; Bridgehead is character study of plain and dogged Stephen Moore arbitrating between hungry have-nots and the ascendancy seeking fair payment.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2 564, The Drone (1908) on of the most successful plays of the day [ed. Christopher Murray].

Belfast Public Library holds Bridge Head (1939); Drone (1909); Drone and Other Plays (1912); Margaret McHenry, The Ulster Theatre in Ireland (Philadelphia 1931).

(Catalogue to 1994), The Turn of the Road, A Play in Two Scenes and an Epilogue (Dublin: Maunsel 1917; Duffy 1950); The Drone, A Play in three Acts (Dublin: Maunsel 1909); The Troth, A Play in One Act (Dublin: Maunsel 1908; facs. ed. Belfast: Linen Hall Library 1993); The Drone and Other Plays [i.e., with Three for the Road; Red Turf, and The Troth] (Dublin: Maunsel 1912; NY: Little, Brown, 1917 [BML adds i.e. 1912]), 144pp.; Bridge-head, A Play in Three Acts (London: Constable 1939), also in Plays of Changing Ireland, ed. Curtis Canfield (NY: Macmillan 1936); Peter, A Comedy in Three Acts and A Prologue and Epilogue (Dublin: Duffy 1964); Peter/Peadar, greann-dráma thrí nghiomh, trans. Seán Mac Maolain (Oifig an tSoláthair 1945), 99pp.

[ top ]

Notes
John Waddell’ [b.1882]; by his brother Harry C. Waddell (Belfast: Belfast News-letter Ltd. 1949), with ports., including Waddell in 18th c. clothes as Moderator of the General Assembly in 1938; later Convener from 1946 until his death in 1949; gives account of Robert Anderson, a young Presbyterian licentiate who came to Banbridge in 1830, with the ‘warm feelings of esteem and friendship’ of Dr. Henry Cooke; received a Call to congregation at Lr. Abbey St., Dublin, but persuaded by Cooke to organise new “orthodox” congregation in Banbridge; became first minister of church erected in Scarva St.; author cites tradition that the famous Church controversialist was found on his knees on the floor playing marbles with little Tom; ‘little wonder that his grandchildren heard much in their home of the “Arian” heresy’; Anderson’s fourth child became wife of John Waddell, son of James Waddell of Ballygowan, the father of the subject of this memoir; James Waddell’s brother Hugh was minister in the village of Glenarm in Co. Antrim; two of his sons entered the ministry - Hugh, who became one of our [10] two pioneer missionaries in China, and afterwards removed to Japan, where he spent a lifetime of notable missionary work; and Rutherford (the family claimed connexion with the saint and sufferer of the Scottish Covenant, Samuel Rutherford), who emigrated to New Zealand, and became one of the strongest forces in the Presbyterian Church there, minister of St. Andrew’s, Dunedin, gifted littèrateur, preacher, author and editor for long of the Church weekly, The Outlook. [pp.10-11] Note also that seven Presbyterian Churches were completely destroyed in the air-raids of 1941. In Jan. 1940, Waddell made the following New Year Address, ‘There is not an atom of easy optimism in the teaching of this old Book which enshrines our Religion. The prophets of the Old Testament were men who stood out in their generation as speakers not of smooth words but of true words; and they were faced with catastrophes as crushing and overwhelming as any we have known, or are likely to know ... in a dark crisis like this ... it may well be that we shall find light and peace in self-sacrificing efforts on behalf of others who suffer more than we ... The trials which seem the negation of a Divine purpose are really means by which a glorious purpose is being worked out. Since Christ [145] the world of pain is no accident, untoward and sinister, but a world opened to his people to walk through as though a Kingdom, regal, wide and glorious.’ (pp.145-46)

John Hewitt described The Drone as ‘the patriarch of the hiving kitchen comedies which represent our contribution to the national theatre’ (‘Journey of Discovery into the Literature of Ulster’, in Belfast Telegraph, 14 Nov. 1958.)

[ top ]