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Fighting the Waves

A Ballet-Play by W.B. Yeats


  • Playwright

    William Butler Yeats 

  • Author Notes

    In this dance play I have brought together 'The Only Jealousy of Emer' and another Irish story. At the opening Cuchulain is shown fighting the waves in a frenzy of grief for he has killed his son. Then we see him lying in a bed, a seemingly drowned man, attended by his wife Emer and another. He is not dead but entranced. The Goddess Fand who loves him comes seeking to entice him away; she is defeated by the love of Emer and Cuchulain awakes. The play closes with Fand's dance among the waves, the waves of her despair. W.B.Y.
  • Notes

    This play was first performed along with a revival of Lennox Robinson's 'The Whiteheaded Boy'.

  • Synopsis

    Ballet-play with masks that tells the story of Cuchulain and Emer. He is in depair after killing his son and the Goddess Fand seizes her chance to entrance him, the object of her desire. Emer's love for him wins out and Fand is repelled, freeing Cuchulain from his grief.

  • Play Type

    Plays General

    Number Of Acts

    One Act

  • Cast Size Male


  • Cast Size Female


Original Production

Original Cast  
Cuchulain Michael J. Dolan
Emer Meriel Moore
Singer John Stephenson (1)
Eithne Inguba Shelah Richards
Waves Cepta Cullen
Fand Ninette de Valois
Ghost of Cuchulain Hedley Briggs
Waves Mai Kiernan
Waves Doreen Cuthbert
Waves Margaret Horgan
Waves Thelma Murphy
Waves Chris Sheehan (1)
Production Team  
Costume Designer D. Travers Smith
Choreographer Ninette de Valois
Music Composed by George Anthiel
Musical Director Dr. J.F. Larchet
Masks Hildo Krop
Produced by Lennox Robinson

Published Scripts

Rights Information

  • Territory

    All Territories

  • Rights Type

    All Rights

  • Contact

    A.P. Watt Ltd.

  • Address

    20 John Street
    London WC1N 2DR

  • Phone

    + 44 (0)20 7405 6774

  • Email

  • Website

Source Of Information

The information for this entry was taken from the original production programme and from press cuttings.