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The readings will be presented live on Zoom on Mon May 17-Mon May 31.

The 2021 "European Month of Culture NYC," produced by Origin Theatre Company in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, is restarting this month with a series of play readings and panel talks involving playwrights, producers and cultural organizations from New York, Romania, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Lithuania and the countries of Scandinavia. Co-curated by Erwin Maas and Michael Mellamphy, and staged virtually from a variety of locations, the readings will be presented live on Zoom on Mon May 17 at 6pm; Mon May 24 at 8pm; Sat May 29 at 2pm; Sun May 30 at 1pm, and Mon May 31 at 6pm. The panel talk, presented by the Scandinavian American Theater Company live on Zoom, is on Tue May 25 at 12pm. All the events are free. (All times are EDT.)

1/ "Gun Hill," a new play by the award-winning New York-based playwright from Romania, Saviana Stanescu, kicks off the Month. A timely new work focused on gun violence in America, "Gun Hill" is directed by Erwin Maas (Monday May 17 at 6pm).

2/ The Dublin-based Irish writer and actor David Gilna will introduce his new play, "My Bedsit Window," featuring Irish actors based in New York directed by Michael Mellamphy in New York (Mon May 24, 8pm).

3/ Luis Fernando de Julián's magical realist play "White on White" about the imminent demise of a polar bear in the Arctic, comes to us from Spain in partnership with the Estreno Contemporary Spanish Plays. Directed by Beatriz Cabur "White on White" is translated into English by Iride Lamartina-Lens. This marks the US debut of De Julian, an award-winning social justice playwright with 20 plays published in Spain. (Sat May 29 at 2pm)

4/ In partnership with 1927 Arts Space Athens, in Greece, Nina Rapi's "What Reality?" is brought to life in a reading in English directed by Aktina Stathaki. A couple's elaborate, fanciful, unrealistic and even miraculous efforts to ward off eviction and financial ruin, "What Reality?" is both a brutal and buoyant comic satire. Produced mostly in Greece and in London, Rapi also writes about sexuality and aesthetics in both Greek and English (Sun May 30 at 1pm).

5/ The Lithuanian actor and playwright Rytis Valiunas's makes his professional debut as a playwright with "Brooklyn," a hilarious fable about a person landing unexpectedly, and mostly against his will, in Brooklyn. Valiunas is a graduate of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in Vilnius. "Brooklyn," written in English, closes out the mini Festival on Mon May 31 at 6pm.

6/ A panel discussion, "Our Future Stories," presented in partnership with the Scandinavian American Theatre Company (New York-based) will look deeply at how the pandemic has and will shape storytelling in the theatre. (Tue May 25, 12pm) Participants to be announced.

A sister festival of "European Month of Culture" (which has taken place every May in Washington DC since 2013), "European Month of Culture NYC" (produced by Origin Theatre Company in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to the United States) emphasizes encounters and collaborations between visiting artists and the many diaspora audiences and artists/communities living and working in New York. In 2019, the 2nd annual Festival sponsored, produced and hosted some 60 individual events (many of them free) including performances, screenings, readings of new plays, concerts, art exhibits, panels and roundtable discussions, master classes and parties.

"It is gratifying to say the least to be able to get European Month of Culture NYC back on track," says Origin Theatre Company's new artistic director Michael Mellamphy. "Convening producers from Europe and connecting with local talent in New York, not to mention giving our diverse audiences in New York a chance to see work that wouldn't ordinarily be seen here, this is what we are all about!"

An actor, producer and former business owner, Mellamphy co-curated (with the actor Sarah Street) the 13th annual Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival in January. The three-week festival hosted 20 virtual events, showcased the work of 34 contemporary Irish playwrights, and, utilizing new technology and audience engagement techniques, reached an expanded international audience.

Origin Theatre Company's current 2020-21 season, which included Origin 1st Irish, will continue on Sunday June 13, with an innovative live-and-virtual version of Origin's immersive Bloomsday Brunch, produced with Blooms Tavern.
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