Peter Behrens Narrates A TERRIBLE BEAUTY At Irish Arts Center 5/21-23

The Irish Arts Center announces the New York premiere of A TERRIBLE BEAUTY, a live performance inspired by the award-winning novel The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens, with music by Grammy Award-winning composer Paul Sullivan, and directed by Anders Cato. Performances of A TERRIBLE BEAUTY are Friday, May 21 - Sunday, May 23. The performance schedule is Friday and Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM. Tickets are $28 ($23 for IAC Members). A TERRIBLE BEAUTY takes place at the 99-seat Donaghy Theatre at Irish Arts Center (553 West 51st Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues). Tickets can be purchased by calling SmartTix at 212-868-4444 or at For more information, visit

An arresting theatrical experience, A TERRIBLE BEAUTY is based on Peter Behrens' New York Times best selling debut novel The Law of Dreams. Featuring Mr. Behrens as narrator, this powerful story of a young man's Homeric passage from innocence to experience during the Irish Famine of 1847 is a unique fusion of literature, music, storytelling, theater and imagery.

A TERRIBLE BEAUTY combines Behrens' narration, Paul Sullivan on piano, the young prodigy soprano Rose Upton singing emigrant ballads and songs, and an actor portraying the book's protagonist, set against a back drop of striking visual imagery inspired by the Famine.

This elegiac tribute to coming of age during the Famine has been called "an event of uncommon depth and artistry....stunning music, evocative reading and incomparable songs..." by the Ellsworth American, following its original performance in Maine.

The inspiration for the performance, Mr. Behrens' novel The Law of Dreams, was called "absorbing, unsparing and beautifully written . . . a masterly novel" by The New York Times, and the New Yorker praised "Behrens's language also has a visceral rhythm, and his similes meld the humble with the lyrical."

Peter Behrens is the author of The Law of Dreams, his first novel, which won the 2006 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. A native of Montreal where he was educated at Lower Canada College, Concordia University, and McGill. He held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing at Stanford University, and was a Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. His collection of short stories, Night Driving, was published in 1987. Stories and essays have appeared in Tin House, Brick, Best Canadian Stories (twice), Best Canadian Essays, The Atlantic Monthly, and many anthologies. After his first story published in the US appeared in The Atlantic Monthly and was optioned in Hollywood he began to work as a professional screenwriter. He lives in Maine and spends two months of the year in Los Angeles.

Paul Sullivan has played piano throughout the world. He has won a Grammy Award as part of the Paul Winter Consort for their CD Silver Solstice. He has been a featured pianist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Pops, as well as Benny Goodman and other jazz masters. His thirteen albums have sold over 300,000 copies worldwide. Sullivan has played and conducted Tony Award-winning Broadway shows, written music for The Rockettes, Pilobolus Dance Theater, IBM and the Winter Olympics among many others. Within the last year alone he has performed for the Princess of Japan, at the American Embassy in Moscow, and played duets with Marion McPartland on her show, "Piano Jazz."

Irish Arts Center, founded in 1972, is a New York-based arts and cultural center dedicated to projecting a dynamic image of Ireland and Irish America for the 21st century, building community with audiences of all backgrounds, and preserving the stories and traditions of Irish culture for generations to come. The Irish Arts Center's multi-disciplinary programming is centered around three core areas: Performance - including live music, dance, theatre, film, literature, and the humanities; Exhibition - including visual arts presentations and cultural exhibitions that tell the evolving Irish story; and Education, with dozens of classes per week in Irish language, history, music, and dance. Located in New York City, a global capital of arts and culture, Irish Arts Center serves as a dynamic platform for top emerging and established artists and cultural creators to reach a New York, national, and global audience, and as a gateway for other institutions to access first-rate Irish and Irish American culture.


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