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2020 Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival Releases Full Schedule

2020 Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival Releases Full Schedule

Six mainstage productions, several of which explore positive and dramatic social change on the Island of Ireland in the past decade, will be part of the 2020 Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival, running in venues across the city from January 7 to February 3. New York's all-Irish theatre festival and the world's only festival devoted exclusively to producing the plays of contemporary Irish playwrights from around the world, presents productions from Belfast, Dublin, Wexford, Manhattan and Queens. Three are American premieres; two are world premieres. The American premiere of Eva O'Connor's "Maz and Bricks" and the world premiere of Sean Sugrie's "The 8th" open the Festival on January 7.

Two previously unannounced special events have been added to the schedule -- "Eugene O'Neill: An Irish-American Boyhood," a theatrical portrait Eugene O'Neill's childhood in New York by noted theatre writer and curator Turlough McConnell, starring Colin Ryan and Carey Van Driest (on Feb 3), and a workshop presentation of "Laugh While You Can," a new musical by Celine Carroll and Fiona Looney directed by the internationally celebrated director Ray Yeates at Torn Page February 1 and 2.

The mix of productions from both sides of the Atlantic (either imported or produced locally) will be seen at Irish Repertory Theatre (two theatres), 59E59 Theaters, The NY Irish Center, The Secret Theatre, and The Alchemical Studios. Participating producers are Fishamble (Dublin); Gúna Nua (Dublin); Wexford Arts Centre (Wexford); The Lyric (Belfast), and local companies Locked in the Attic Productions with Five Ohm Productions ("The 8th"), and Far From the Land Productions ("Round Room").

9 special events including concerts, screenings, talks and readings seen out of competition take place at The American Irish Historical Society; Scandinavia House; A.R.T. New York; The National Arts Club; The Cutting Room; Symphony Space, Torn Page, and The Irish Consulate. A total of 15 contemporary Irish writers are represented with work in the Festival.

Productions open for Review:


1/ The American premiere of Eva O'Connor's acclaimed comedy-drama "Maz and Bricks" opens the Festival on Tuesday January 7. The story of an unlikely friendship of a man and woman set against the backdrop of a pro-choice march, the show is produced at 59E59 by the Olivier Award-winning, Dublin-based Fishamble: The New Play Company, which returns to the Festival for its sixth visit. Directed by Jim Culleton, with Ciaran O'Brien and Eva O'Connor. The Irish Independent calls the play "excruciatingly funny and powerful."
At 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, 28 perfs Jan 7 to Feb 2

2/ Dublin's Gúna Nua presents the American premiere of Sarah-Jane Scott's acclaimed comedy "Appropriate." Directed by Paul Meade, this darkly-comic story of a soccer bride's growing ambivalence about being... just that, a soccer bride, explores Ireland's obsession with sports (similar to America's) and its role in defining social norms! Scott (in her New York debut) nabbed the Summerhall Lustrum Award for Excellence at Edinburgh Fringe 2019, and was nominated for Bewley's Little Gem Award at the 2018 Dublin Fringe.
The NY Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue, in Long Island City, 6 perfs Jan 27 to Feb 1

3/ The world premiere of "The 8th," a new play written and directed by Seanie Sugre. Produced in New York by Locked in the Attic Productions with Five Ohm Productions, "The 8th" stars Julia Nightingale ("The Ferryman" on Broadway), Una Clancy, and Gerard McNamee. In "The 8th" (shorthand for Ireland's 8th Amendment outlawing abortion, which was repealed in 2018), a family's tensions in the home collide unexpectedly with the very public fracas caused by the country's epic referendum vote to legalize abortion.
The Secret Theater, 4492 23rd Street, in Long Island City, 13 perfs Jan 7 to 18

4/ The Wexford Arts Centre, in association with The Irish Repertory Theatre, presents the American premiere of "The Scourge," written and performed by Wexford native Michelle Dooley Mahon. Adapted from her critically acclaimed autobiographical novel in which she relives the slow, downward path of her mother's battle with Alzheimer's disease, "The Scourge" is directed by notable Irish director Ben Barnes (former artistic director of The Abbey). As Mahon relates that often absurd, silly, heart-breaking slow-motion slide, we witness a beautiful dedication of a daughter in small-town Ireland giving voice to a mother sadly silenced before her time.
Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street, 13 performances Jan 22 to Feb 2

5/ Also at The Irish Repertory Theatre, running from December 6 through January 26, The Irish Rep's production of Dion Boucicault's high-spirited farce, "London Assurance," directed by Charlotte Moore. A parade of eccentric characters populate this classic comedy of manners that catapulted the then 20-year-old Boucicault to fame when it premiered at London's Covent Garden in March of 1841.
Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street, 8 weeks, Dec 6 to Jan 26.

6/ Next Generation Series - Far From the Land Productions presents a new play in development, Honor Molloy's "Round Room." Directed by Britt Berke, with music by the Grammy Award-winning Irish singer/songwriter Susan McKeown, "Round Room" features this distinguished New York-based cast: Gina Costigan, Brenda Meaney, Rachel Pickup, Maeve Prive, ZOE WATKINS, and Aoife Williamson. Molloy wrote the 2016 1st Irish sensation "Crackskull Row," which transferred to the Irish Repertory Theatre; and was a New York Times Critics Pick. In "Round Room," two centuries of women from widely divergent backgrounds come to life in the corridors, back staircases and cavernous wards of the Dublin's infamous Rotunda Hospital, and begin to share a cascade of "once upon a time" stories never told.
The Alchemical Studios, 104 West 14th Street, 3 perfs Jan 27 and 28


Among the 9 special events, two were PREVIOUSLY UNANNOUNCED

1/ "Eugene O'Neill: An Irish-American Boyhood," by noted theatre writer and curator Turlough McConnell, renders a theatrical portrait of the childhood of Eugene O'Neill in "post-famine" New York, illustrating the impact of Irish immigration on O'Neill's writing. With a cast including Colin Ryan and Carey Van Driest, the performance-reading will be followed by a talkback with McConnell, who is joined by O'Neill scholar Zander Brietzke. The Irish Consulate, 345 Park Ave, Mon Feb 3 at 1pm. (Free with online registration on

2/ A workshop presentation of "Laugh While You Can," a new musical by Celine Carroll and Fiona Looney directed by the internationally celebrated director Ray Yeates. Taking place at Torn Page, the Chelsea townhouse where Yeates - the Dublin City arts officer and former artistic director of axis: Ballymun - is an artist in residence, "Laugh While You Can" explores the touching and often funny experiences of people living with dementia and their caregivers. Torn Page, 435 West 22nd Street, 3 perfs Sat Feb 1 @ 3pm & 8pm; Sun Feb 2 @ 8pm


1/ LYRIC THEATRE EVENT Presented by The Lyric Theatre of Belfast, in a partnership with Origin Theatre Company, "Vital Voices" is a series that builds a new cultural bridge between New York and Northern Ireland. This year we present a staged reading of a new play by Clare McMahon about three women in their 60s who attempt to visit every county in Ireland on a whirlwind vacation of a lifetime.
American Irish Historical Society, 991 Fifth Avenue (at 80th Street), Wed Jan 15 @ 7pm. FREE EVENT

2/ Next Generation Series "Belfast 2050" -- Five new monologues by five women playwrights from Northern Ireland - Emily Dedakis, Gina Donnelly, Sarah Gordon, Fionnula Kennedy, and Alice Malseed -- inspired by the arresting premise: "Belfast 2050, under Albert Clock, the beloved Belfast landmark..." Directed by Belfast native Rhiann Jeffrey. A.R.T. Studios, 520 Eight Avenue (36th Street), Sat Jan 18 at 3pm.

3/ "Scór on Broadway" -- Members of New York's Irish community of all ages and backgrounds come together to showcase and celebrate their unique performance skills in a festive cultural cabaret full of surprises. Produced by Jane McCarter O'Dowd. Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, Fri, Jan 24 at 7pm

4/ FILM -- The New York premiere of the acclaimed documentary "Nuala," about the life and death of the New York Times best-selling memoirist Nuala O'Faolain ("Are You Somebody?"). In this award-winning documentary directed by Patrick Farrelly and Kate O'Callaghan, O'Faolain's friend -- the prominent Irish broadcaster, Marian Finucane -- goes behind the turbulent episodes of O'Faolain's life to paint a personal picture of a woman struggling without a road map and with only her own fierce intelligence to guide her. Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue, Mon Jan 20, at 7pm

Recognized for its focused size, and emphasis on audience engagement through plays, parties, panels and workshops, Origin 1st Irish has been called "an important event that offers New York theatergoers the chance to see fascinating new work" by The NY Times. Under the artistic direction of George C. Heslin, Origin Theatre Company (now in its 17th season) also produces the "European Month of Culture NYC," in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, in May.

This year's Festival jury includes New York stage and television actress Cynthia Darlow; the opera singer and actor Elmore James; college administrator and theatre writer Kate Kennon, and the international journalist, filmmaker and US television writer Sadhbh Walshe.

The 12th annual Origin 1st Irish culminates in a Closing Night Ceremony on Monday February 3, at 6:30pm, staged at Rosie O'Grady's Manhattan Club, 800 Seventh Avenue, in the heart of Times Square, where the Best of Festival Awards will be handed out. (Admission for festival participants; sponsors; VIP ticket holders and press only!)

For all Festival info visit

Regional Awards

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