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Regional Spotlight: How Irish Rep is Working Through the Global Health Crisis

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Regional Spotlight: How Irish Rep is Working Through the Global Health Crisis

Now more than ever it is important to support theater and do our part to keep the art form that we love so much alive and as thriving as it can be during these unprecedented times. While the global health crisis has temporarily put the theater world on hold, pausing all live performances and large gatherings to help stop the spread of COVID-19, theaters around the country have taken a hit. During this time of adjusting to our temporary new normal, theaters are figuring out how to take care of their team, and discovering the best ways to virtually bring theater to audiences.

Through our regional theater interview series, we are checking in with theaters all around the country, talking to them about how they are handling these difficult circumstances, learning what they are doing to move forward, and discovering the best way for people to help regional theaters during this time.

Today we're checking in with Irish Rep. We chatted with Producing Director Ciaran O'Reilly.

First of all, I want to check in on the health and wellbeing of everyone at Irish Rep. How is everyone doing during this difficult time?

Everyone is good. We are lucky enough to have been able to keep our staff working full time and they have shown remarkable tenacity and imagination in meeting the challenges of our new reality.

What do the days look like right now for those who work at Irish Rep?

Like most of the country, everyone works from their homes as we concentrate our energies on online content and reaching out to our patrons. Office hours are similar to general administrative hours and the staff greet each other via Slack at 10AM and say goodnight at 6PM. The exception to this is on days when there are screenings of new works and Patron events surrounding such happenings. Throughout the day we all stay in touch as we navigate the digital world that will bridge us to our next phase.

How much planning is going on both short term and long term for the theater?

Because our re-opening is a moving target, we set up imaginary goals for returning until we are told those goals are unreachable. And then we set new ones. Some weeks ago, with the reality that we will not be opening our doors this summer, we put together a digital season which comprises of four full productions: Molly Sweeney by Brian Friel; Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom by James Joyce, adapted by Aedín Moloney and Colum McCann; The Weir by Conor McPherson; and Love, Noël: The Songs and Letters of Noël Coward adapted by Barry Day. Yes! and Love, Noël were to be part of our actual summer season before the pandemic closed us down so we are very pleased to be able to bring those productions directly to our patrons' homes.

In addition, we produced The Gifts You Gave to the Dark --a world premiere play that was written within the past few weeks for the online format. Set in Dublin and Belfast amidst the COVID crisis, it deals with the harsh realities of isolation when a family member is ill and cannot be visited. It can be found on our website through October 31.

Do you have plans to bring any previously filmed productions/upcoming events/classes etc. online?

Union rules prohibited the filming of past productions, with the exception of The Irish.. And How They Got That Way by Frank McCourt, which had been filmed under a SAG/AFTRA contract. We will be rescreening it on June 8th -the night we were to have our annual gala at Town Hall-as part of a special online fundraiser celebration.

What is the best way for people to help Irish Rep right now?

Sign up for our online shows and donate if you can. Continue to write and tell us your miss us because we very much miss our theatre family. If you are Irish Rep members, attend our patron nights on Zoom. It is life-affirming to see all those faces tuning in.

Learn more about Irish Rep at To donate, click here!

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