Richard Topol, Orlagh Cassidy, Kate Grimes and More Join TRANSATLANTIC TALES 2020
What do you do during a lockdown, when your big June show has been cancelled? Well, put on a digital international theatre production spanning 5,000 km with over 20 artists of course!
AboutFACE, a theatre company in Dublin, in response to having to cancel their June remount of new show The Gods of the Ozarks due to the pandemic, is turning that into an opportunity: by bringing together theatre artists from New York and Ireland to create and perform eight new 3-minute plays - each set on a Zoom call, to be developed in May and performed via online video the first week of June. They'll be pairing 8 Irish-based actors (the cast of their cancelled show) with 8 New York-based actors, plus 8 international playwrights who've been featured in the past at their NEWvember Festival of New Plays. They're calling it TRANSATLANTIC TALES 2020.
New York based actors in the show include Richard Topol (9 shows on Broadway), Orlagh Cassidy (Present Laughter on Broadway, Drama Desk nomination for The Field, whose parents are from Dublin), Kate Grimes (TV's Bull) and John Keating (originally from Tipperary, 2019 Callaway Award winner for performance). Irish-based actors include performers born and raised in Ireland, but also artists originally from Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Playwrights are not just American and Irish, but also include writers originally from Wales and Australia.
For the producers, this feels like the natural fruition of their transatlantic US-Ireland connection. Anna & Paul Nugent are Co-Artistic Directors of AboutFACE. Anna, originally from Wisconsin, and Paul, a Dubliner, met at drama school in Ireland, and shortly after graduating, started the theatre company with 3 other actors, with a focus on producing the Irish premieres of new American plays (for example, the Irish premiere of The Laramie Project). After 7 productions in 3 years, they moved to New York to learn more about theatre, where they worked for companies such as the Irish Rep, Culture Project and The Cell. They also co-founded their NEWvember Festival of New Plays, with Tangent Theatre Company in upstate NY. After 10 years in New York, they returned to Ireland, bringing NEWvember back with them, and mounting the acclaimed world premieres of new plays including The Gods of the Ozarks and Orson Welles' Christmas Carol.
"We still wanted to provide a chance for our artists to create, to share their talents and be of purpose, which we feel is deeply important at this time," Anna says. "But we wanted it to be something theatre-driven that would work digitally - fresh, short, inventive experiences, with global range - and that resonate with the present moment." "Then we also thought of it as an opportunity - what would we not have thought to do before this crisis?" adds Paul, "And we hit on our transatlantic connection - that this could be an thrilling chance to pair our Ireland based actors ... with some of our favourite New York based actors. And to tie in with another key part of our programming - our NEWvember Festival where we have developed plays by over 30 playwrights from Ireland and the US. And that started to sound like something that would not only engage artists we love, but also be new stories that audiences would be excited about too."
AboutFACE did a Live Draw on Youtube Live on Friday May 8th to randomly match the actors and writers. The writers have 1 week (til May 15th) to write their 3-minute piece, and then the actors will rehearse via Zoom the last 2 weeks of May. In the first week of June, when the company would have been performing their cancelled show ... they will release the 8 plays on their website and via their Youtube channel.
This is the list of performers and playwrights for TRANSATLANTIC TALES 2020:
Amie Tedesco & Kathleen Warner Yeates in a play by Seamus Scanlon
Brandon Jones & Helena White in a play by Emily Bohannon
Orlagh Cassidy & Mark Tankersley in a play by Krystal Sweedman
Michael Rhodes & David Ryan in a play by James McLindon
Megan Day & John Keating in a play by Rachel White
Maureen O'Connell & Richard Topol in a play by Melisa Annis
Directed by Anna Nugent. Costume Design by Tara McKeever. Set Design by Jenny Owens. Music Composed & Arranged by Owen Day-Jones. Graphic Design by Charlie Kranz. Production Coordinated by Yvonne Ussher.
For more information about AboutFACE and TRANSATLANTIC TALES 2020: