Inis Nua Theatre Presents Philadelphia Premiere Of THE NIGHT ALIVE By Conor McPherson
Inis Nua Theatre presents the Philadelphia Premiere of the award-winning play THE NIGHT ALIVE by Tony Award-nominated Conor McPherson. THE NIGHT ALIVE tells the story of Tommy who lives in a filthy studio apartment and survives on odd jobs around Dublin. When he rescues a young woman from her abusive boyfriend, Tommy's dilapidated home becomes a safe haven from her violent past and the tenuous friendship they build forever alters their lives. The production will be directed by Barrymore Award-nominated director and Inis Nua Founder and Artistic Director Tom Reing. Previews begin Wednesday, October 9, with opening night on Friday, October 11. The show runs through October 27, 2019 for a total of 15 performances. All performances will take place at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake, 302 South Hicks Street. Tickets are $15 - $35. For reservations, visit inisnuatheatre.org.
Across countries and productions, THE NIGHT ALIVE has garnered awards and rave reviews; including winning the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best New Play and being nominated for Best Play at the Lucille Lortel Awards and Drama Desk Awards in New York, and the Laurence Olivier Awards in London (the city's most prestigious theatre award.)
The Chicago Tribune called THE NIGHT ALIVE "another raw and beautiful entry in this great Irish playwright's stunning ongoing series of dramatic meditations on life, loneliness and the possibility of redemption." The Sydney Morning Herald said of the first Australian production, "part of McPherson's genius as a playwright is that his work not only demands the best from those presenting it, but also helps draw it out." And The New York Times said of the original production, "the play ascends to a plane that can only be called transcendent."
THE NIGHT ALIVE is a delicate and humane play from one of Ireland's most beloved playwrights. Set in the heart of Dublin on the edge of the famous Phoenix Park, the story paints a picture of individuals struggling to subsist on the edges of society, and finding salvation in each other. Tommy's life is shaped by his failures: his failing marriage, his failed business, and his flailing relationship with his teenage children. The only people in his life willing to give him a chance are his recently bereaved Uncle Maurice, who is letting Tom crash in a haphazard studio apartment, and his friend and employee Doc whom McPherson describes as being "always five to seven seconds behind everyone else." But at heart, Tommy wants to do the right thing and when he sees a young woman - Aimee - being struck by her boyfriend in the street, he brings her home to his studio to help clean her up and keep her safe. Aimee has a difficult past of her own, shaped by addiction and abuse, and her presence knocks the tenuous stability Tommy, Doc, and Maurice have found off-balance.
Founder and Artistic Director Tom Reing is excited that Inis Nua is presenting this play as a Philadelphia Premiere, saying, "I saw THE NIGHT ALIVE Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater in 2014 and loved it. I've always liked McPherson's writing; he takes the life of an ordinary person who is troubled and lonely and elevates the story to something cosmic. We see the characters' faults, we see how they are struggling, and we see ourselves in their humanity."
With interest piqued by the New York production, THE NIGHT ALIVE was produced as a reading for Inis Nua's 2015-2016 Season. The positive reception from that reading kept the script at the forefront of shows the company was hoping to produce, looking to bring this modern Irish classic to a Philadelphia audience.
McPherson's work has been seen widely on Philadelphia stages before. Notable local productions have included THE SEAFARER and THE WEIR at the Arden Theater, SHINING CITY at Theatre Exile, RUM AND VODKA and ST. NICHOLAS at BRAT Productions, and THE WEIR at Curio Theatre.
This production poses a particular challenge in one scene as there is an elaborate and violent fight. This production warrants a Fight Choreographer - Steve Wei - who will help bring the right level of reality and brutality to the scene, balanced with creating a fight that is safe and dynamic for the actors.
Photographer Michael Penn will have an installation of his series PHILADELPHIA PROJECT in the lobby of the Louis Bluver Theatre throughout the run of the show. The series reflects the play's themes of loneliness and urban isolation and connects this Irish play to our own city. Michael Penn is a street photographer whose images are moody and intense. His black and white work is high contrast, timeless, and humane. Twelve of Michael's photographs are in The Art Collection of Wharton University of Pennsylvania and his prints and publications sit in holding at some of the most prestigious art institutions in the world including MoMA, The Library of the National Museum of Modern Art-Tokyo; J. Paul Getty Museum-Los Angeles; The Art Institute of Chicago; and The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Inis Nua Founder and Artistic Director Tom Reing helms THE NIGHT ALIVE, his 30th mainstage production for the company. Reing has made a career directing Irish and UK theatre in Philadelphia including recent Inis Nua credits BOX CLEVER; OUR FEW AND EVIL DAYS; and LOVE, LIES AND TAXIDERMY. With Inis Nua, he has directed nineteen American premieres, as well as ten Philadelphia premieres. Reing was the recipient of an Independence Fellowship in the Arts, a MidAtlantic Arts Fellowship, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship.
The cast of five is led by Andrew Criss, previously seen in Inis Nua's 2018 Irish play OUR FEW AND EVIL DAYS by Mark O'Rowe. Criss is a regular on local stages and recent credits include TARTUFFE with Mauckingbird Theatre, BILOXI BLUES at Act II Playhouse, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO... at Lantern Theater, and the upcoming THE SEA VOYAGE at Philadelphia Artists' Collective. Inis Nua fan favorite Mike Dees plays the role of Doc for his fifth show with the company. At Inis Nua, Dees was part of the Barrymore-award nominated production of DUBLIN BY LAMPLIGHT as well as TRAD, MADE IN CHINA, and CRAZY GARY'S MOBILE DISCO. Dees is a Barrymore Award-winning actor who has been in productions at the Lantern Theater, Azuka Theater, the Wilma Theater, and Theatre Horizon.
Michael Toner will play Maurice and is a new face on the Inis Nua stage, but not for Philadelphia audiences. Toner has been a mainstay of Philadelphia theatre for decades, particularly specializing in Irish Theatre. Select credits include THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN at the Wilma Theater, MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN at The Walnut Street Theatre, and Conor McPherson's THE WEIR at the Arden Theatre.
Making their Inis Nua debuts are Minou Pourshariati as Aimee and Grant Struble as Kenneth. Minou Pourshariati has performed with Hedgerow Theatre, Commonwealth Classic Theatre Company, Delaware Shakespeare, and Revolution Shakespeare. Grant Struble was recently seen as Tony in WEST SIDE STORY at The Media Theatre, and in BUS STOP at Bristol Riverside Theatre and the LYDIE BREEZE TRILOGY at EgoPo Classic Theater.
This production sees many exciting first-time Inis Nua designers joining the team. Scenic Designer You-Shin Chen is based in New York but hails from Taiwan. She has an impressive resume including working with the Atlantic Theatre Company, The McCarter Theatre Center, The Public Theatre, LaMaMa, Soho Rep, and The American Repertory Theatre. Six-time Barrymore Award-winning Sound Designer Christopher Colucci makes his Inis Nua debut. Colucci was a 2016 Pew fellow and his work has been seen locally at the Wilma Theater, Theatre Exile, the Arden Theatre, People's Light, and The Walnut Street Theatre. Fight Choreographer Steve Wei is known to Inis Nua audiences as the resident Front of House Manager, however he will be serving double-duty on this production and choreographing the play's dramatic fight scene. Wei is a Fight Choreographer who has worked with Temple University Theatres, Christ Church Neighborhood House, and the Papermill Theatre and teaches and choreographs with Philadelphia Fight Ensemble, Argent Combat, and Arte Violenta.
This production sees many previous artistic and technical collaborators returning. Eleni Delopoulos will Costume Design, having previously designed LOVE, LIES AND TAXIDERMY and OUR FEW AND EVIL DAYS for Inis Nua. Delopoulos is also an actor and has been seen on the Inis Nua stage in THE MONSTER IN THE HALL and RADIANT VERMIN (Barrymore Award Nomination - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play) and in OLIVER! at Quintessence Theatre Group. Abby Toll (UNTITLED; BOX CLEVER; THE MONSTER IN THE HALL) returns as the Stage Manager for Inis Nua's full 2019-2020 Season. Longtime Inis Nua collaborators Flannel and Hammer serve as Production Manager (Lauren Tracy) and Technical Director (Joe Daniels). Avista Custom Theatrical Services returns for their 7th season and will design props. And Leonard Kelly (THE MONSTER IN THE HALL; OUR FEW AND EVIL DAYS; BOX CLEVER; among many other Inis Nua credits) returns as Dialect Coach.
THE NIGHT ALIVE opens Friday, October 11, 2019 at 8pm, with preview performances Wednesday, October 9 and Thursday, October 10, at 7pm. The show runs for a total of 15 performances through Sunday, October 27, at 2pm. All performances will take place at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake, 302 South Hicks Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102. South Hicks Street is next to The Drake apartment building at 1512 Spruce Street.
The Takeaway - special post-show talks - will be held after the 7pm performances on Wednesdays, October 16 and 23. The Takeaway is a post-show exploration of the play's themes and relevant events by guest scholars and theatre practitioners. On October 16, The Takeaway will feature a conversation on loneliness with Lauren Hallden, the Lead Product Designer at tech start-up Stitch who created a twitterbot that reaches out to lonely people. On October 23, The Takeaway will explore the unique challenges of this production with Fight Choreographer Steve Wei and Dialect Coach Leonard Kelly.
Tickets are on sale for $15-$35 by calling (215) 454-9776 or visiting inisnuatheatre.org. To learn more, please like Inis Nua Theatre Company on Facebook and follow @InisNua Theatre on Twitter and @inisnuatheatre on Instagram.