2019 Origin 1st Irish Award Winners Announced

The crowd-pleasing rugby play "Alone It Stands" scored Best Production at the 2019 Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival's closing night festivities at The Manhattan Club at Rosie O'Grady's in Times Square tonight. The locally produced American premiere of "Alone It Stands," a play with an illustrious production history in Ireland, The West End and elsewhere, was nominated in four categories, and played at 59E59 Theaters. Two critically acclaimed productions imported from Ireland -- "On Blueberry Hill" (at 59E59 Theaters through February 3) and "The Morning After the Life Before" which played at the cell - also had big wins, with "On Blueberry Hill" (produced by Fishamble: The New Play Co in Dublin) earning Best Actor for Niall Buggy and Best Design; and "The Morning After the Life Before" (produced by Dublin's Gúna Nua Theatre) winning Best Actress for Lucia Smyth, and Best Director for Paul Meade.

Winning Best Playwright was the locally based, Galway-born playwright Ronan Noone for his gripping and gritty one-hander in verse called "The Smuggler." The Festival's Special Jury Prize went to Sole Purpose Productions, the Derry Northern Ireland producer of "Blinkered," for its mission to bring difficult social topics into non-traditional theatre settings.

Fionnula Flanagan, currently on Broadway in "The Ferryman," was honored with a Special Lifetime Achievement Award given by Origin Theatre Company, producer of the Festival.

This year the Bairbre Dowling Spirit of the Festival Award, given by the Origin Theatre Company's board of directors, went to Maria Deasy, who starred in and produced Derek Murphy's comedy "Inside Danny's Box," for her tireless work to bring a new play to the stage at the festival. Deasy and Murphy also co-produced last year's "Dyin' for It."

This year's blue-ribbon panel of judges included the actors Jenny Sterlin and Patrick Boll; theatre book publisher Glenn Young, and the casting director Christine McKenna. Local Irish personality Sophie Colgan of the American Irish Historical Society, hosted the Awards Ceremony.

The list of nominees was as follows: Best actress - Lucia Smyth ("The Morning After the Life Before"); Ann Blake ("The Morning After the Life Before"); Gemma Walker-Farren ("Blinkered"), and Maria Deasy ("Inside Danny's Box"). Best actor - Niall Buggy ("On Blueberry Hill"); Mick Mellamphy ("The Smuggler"); Patrick McBrearty ("Blinkered"); David Ganly ("On Blueberry Hill"). Best Director - Paul Meade ("The Morning After the Life Before"); David Sullivan ("The Smuggler"); John Breen ("Alone It Stands"), and Lisa Milinazzo ("Inside Danny's Box"). Best Playwright - Ronan Noone ("The Smuggler"); Ann Blake ("The Morning After the Life Before"); John Breen ("Alone It Stands"), and Sebastian Barry ("On Blueberry Hill"). Best Design - "On Blueberry Hill," "Alone It Stands," "Inside Danny's Box." Best Production -- "Alone It Stands," "On Blueberry Hill," "The Morning After the Life Before," and "Blinkered."

Curated and coordinated by Festival founder George C. Heslin, the 11th annual Origin 1st Irish welcomed and organized 17 productions and special events from Belfast, Derry, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Queens and Manhattan, with six plays in competition vying for jury prizes. Of the plays, four were American premieres and two were world premieres. Participating venues included 59E59 Theaters (two theaters), the cell, the American Irish Historical Society, Scandinavia House, The NY Irish Center, The Playroom, A.R.T. New York, The Irish Consulate, the Irish Arts Center, and NYU's Glucksman Ireland House.

15 contemporary Irish writers were represented with work in performance in this festival, which features both acclaimed productions from Ireland and Northern Ireland, and new homegrown projects developed by artists based in New York.

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