THE 8TH Wins Best Production In 2020 Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival Awards
"The 8th" made sure its one win (out of seven nominations) counted as it nabbed Best Production at the 2020 Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival Awards at Rosie O'Grady's in Times Square tonight. The world premiere of Seanie Sugrue's comedy-drama about a family's tensions around Ireland's recent epic referendum to overturn the 8th Amendment outlawing abortion, ran for 13 performances at The Secret Theatre in Queens and was produced locally by Locked in the Attic Productions, with Five Ohm Productions.
The Irish Repertory Theatre's hit comedy "London Assurance," which began its successful run on December 6 and has been extended through February 9, won three awards - for direction by Charlotte Moore, for acting by Rachel Pickup, and for Best Design. Origin 1st Irish is the only festival of its kind devoted to producing the plays of contemporary Irish playwrights from around the world. The month-long 12th annual edition began on January 7, performing at venues across the city.
The other acting award was offered to Ciaran O'Brien, who co-starred with Eva O'Connor in the American premiere of "Maz and Bricks." The play, which was imported from Dublin by Fishamble: The New Play Company, and which ended its four week run at 59E59 Theaters yesterday, is written by O'Connor, who was nominated for best actress and best playwright.
The Best Playwright honor went to Honor Molloy, the New York-based writer of an astonishing new work, "Round Room," about childbirth in the wards of Dublin's infamous Rotunda Hospital over several centuries. Seen for just three performances, the in-studio production is produced by the Grammy Award-winning Irish singer/songwriter Susan McKeown's Cuala Foundation, and features a new score by McKeown. (Molloy was nominated previously for the 2016 1st Irish sensation "Crackskull Row," which won Best Production before transferring to the Irish Repertory Theatre where it was a New York Times Critics Pick.)
The Festival's Special Jury Prize went to "The Scourge's" Michelle Dooley Mahon, for her work as a writer bringing underexposed issues vital to women in contemporary Ireland to an international audience. The American premiere of "The Scourge," produced by the Wexford Arts Centre in partnership with The Irish Repertory Theatre (where it closed yesterday), was nominated for three awards, and was directed by the acclaimed Irish director Ben Barnes.
This year the Bairbre Dowling Spirit of the Festival Award, given by the Origin Theatre Company's board of directors to a standout participant in the Festival, was given to Sarah-Jane Scott, the actor and writer of the bracing comedy about marriage, "Appropriate." Scott, who travelled to New York for her American debut, was singled out for her fearlessness in sharing honestly the contradictions and shifting social winds for women in Ireland today. Dublin's Gúna Nua, a frequent Festival participant, brought the comedy to the New York Irish Center in Long Island City for a week of performances.
This year's Festival jury included New York stage and television actress Cynthia Darlow; famed theater writer Harry Haun; college administrator and theatre writer Kate Kennon, and the international journalist, filmmaker and US television writer Sadhbh Walshe.
The list of nominees was as follows: Best actress - Julia Nightingale ("The 8th"); Michelle Dooley Mahon ("The Scourge"); Eva O'Connor ("Maz and Bricks"); Sarah-Jane Scott ("Appropriate), and Rachel Pickup ("London Assurance"). Best actor - Ciaran O'Brien ("Maz and Bricks"); Phil Burke ("The 8th"); Colin McPhillamy ("London Assurance"); Shane McNaughton ("The 8th"). Best Director - Seanie Sugrue ("The 8th"); Charlotte Moore ("London Assurance"); Jim Culleton ("Maz and Bricks"); Britt Berke ("Round Room"). Best Playwright - Seanie Sugrue ("The 8th"); Honor Molloy ("Round Room"); Michelle Dooley Mahon ("The Scourge"); Eva O'Connor ("Maz and Bricks"). Best Design - "London Assurance," "The 8th," and "The Scourge," Best Production -- "Maz and Bricks," "London Assurance," and "The 8th."
The mix of productions from both sides of the Atlantic (either imported or produced locally) will have been seen at the Irish Repertory Theatre (two theatres), 59E59 Theaters, The New York 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 the Cuala Foundation ("Round Room").
In addition to the six mainstage productions in competition, 9 special events were part of the festival -- including Irish country music star Nathan Carter's New York concert debut at The Cutting Room; the New York premiere of the award-winning documentary "Nuala;" "Scór on Broadway," and several readings - all seen out of competition 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.
For all Festival details, visit www.origintheatre.org.