I consulted an expert, and by that I mean I called Colin Smith, who is directing the production. Excellent choice, self! He provided not only a definition but also the etymology: “A blaguard is like a scoundrel,” he said. “I believe it came originally from a military term, the black guard. [They were] a sort of frowned-upon group.”
This is a lovely definition but might not be accurate, as the Dictionary of Word Origins offers the following: Blackguard was a nickname for the kitchen knaves in a lord’s retinue, because they used black iron pots and utensils and also because they were dirtier than other workers. Either way, kind of a rude thing to say to someone. But, we’ll take it!
The play, by brothers Frank and Malachy McCourt, tells the story of their childhood in Ireland and immigration to the United States. The narrative is nonlinear; the play consists of vignettes. Smith said the transition scenes “were as important to me and the actors as the scene parts, because that’s when we really get to see them being brothers.”