Inis Nua Theatre to Kick-Off 20th Anniversary Season With ONCE UPON A BRIDGE East Coast Premiere

The show runs from March 6 through March 24, 2024 for a total of 18 performances.

By: Feb. 02, 2024
Inis Nua Theatre to Kick-Off 20th Anniversary Season With ONCE UPON A BRIDGE East Coast Premiere

Inis Nua Theatre Company is celebrating the company's 20th Anniversary season with the East Coast premiere of Once Upon a Bridge, written by one of Ireland’s most popular playwrights right now, Sonya Kelly.  This play was inspired by a real incident where a jogger pushed a woman into the path of an oncoming bus on Putney Bridge in London. After the push, the jogger kept running and didn’t look back. The quick-thinking bus driver managed to swerve and narrowly avoid the woman. CCTV footage of the incident was released at the time, but the jogger was never found. This edge-of-your-seat drama will be directed by beloved Philadelphia artist Brett Ashley Robinson (director of Theatre Exile’s Abandon), and features Walter DeShields (Artistic Director of Theatre in the X), Alice Yorke (of award-winning company Lighting Rod Special), and Robinson’s newlywed husband, popular local actor David Pica. This is the couple’s first time working together. The show runs from March 6 through March 24, 2024 for a total of 18 performances. New this season–Inis Nua has added a Saturday matinee to meet demand, as well as a mask-required, reduced capacity performance on Wednesdays. All performances will take place at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street in Philadelphia. Tickets are on sale now for $23-$35 by calling (215) 454-9776 or visiting inisnuatheatre.org. Discounted tickets are available for seniors and students.

“I’m excited to introduce Philadelphia audiences to Sonya Kelly," said Inis Nua Artistic Director KC MacMillan. "Sonya is red hot across Ireland right now but still new to Philadelphia and American audiences. Once Upon a Bridge is lightning fast, almost a thriller, but it’s also deeply human and funny. It offers the kind of magic only theater can do–the magic of a profound story, unexpectedly revealed, as audiences share intimate space with the performers.”

Once Upon a Bridge is inspired by the true events that shocked London in 2017. The lives of three strangers collide for a split second on a busy London bridge: the English jogger racing across the city and up the corporate ladder, the Irish barrister striding toward a prominent career, and the Senegalese bus driver under pressure to finish his morning shift on time. Charged with tension, Once Upon a Bridge unravels a life-changing moment and its aftermath through three completely different perspectives, crescendoing to an exciting and shocking climax where class tensions collide with human decency, and a split-second decision can alter a life forever.

“There’s something so beautiful about the simplicity of Sonya Kelly’s language to tell this thrilling story," said Director Brett Ashley Robinson. "It’s got me thinking about the intersection of our desires with the frailty of our existence. The play focuses on a major event, but it’s almost three plays.  Before the event feels one way and then the day of the event feels heightened and styled, and then the aftermath feels quite different. The audience is immersed in every reality." 

“I am looking forward to this collaboration with my wife, Brett," said David Pica, one of our actor’s and Robinson’s real life husband. "I’m overjoyed. They are a superb artist and I am excited about the many ways I’ve seen them work with other artists to activate theatrical text. I’m sure she’ll bring many unique offers to the rehearsal process and invite each of us in the room to make offers of our own. The script is based on an actual event and Brett is very well-suited to help us craft the lives of these characters.”

Originally commissioned by Ireland's Druid Theatre and live-streamed from Galway during the pandemic, Kelly's latest play received a string of excellent reviews for its bold intimacy and engaging storytelling.

Kelly (she/her/hers) is a writer and performer from Ireland. Her play The Last Return won a Fringe First Award, and received rave reviews in Edinburgh before heading to the Dublin Theatre Festival in 2022. Her play Once Upon A Bridge was live streamed from the Druid Theatre during the pandemic, and was nominated for a 2021 WGGB Award for Best Play. Her debut play The Wheelchair on my Face won the Scotsman Fringe First Award, and her second, How to Keep An Alien, won Best Production at the Dublin Fringe, before touring globally. Her play Furniture won an Irish Guild Award and toured nationally, and she is now working on TV projects with the BBC, Avalon and Element Pictures.

For this East Coast Premiere, Inis Nua has tapped the directorial talents of Brett Ashley Robinson (she/they), who is a 2021 Pew Fellow and Barrymore Award-winning artist. Robinson received the 2021 PEN America/Jean Stein Oral History Grant for her original work "Re-Enactment." A two-time nominee for the Golden Tassel Jawn, Philadelphia’s Drag and Burlesque awards, for best comedy act as Patricia. Brett has collaborated with Theater Exile, InterAct, Under the Radar Festival, Ars Nova Ant Fest, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Pig Iron, and the Bearded Ladies. A company member of Applied Mechanics and a member of HotHouse—the Wilma Theater’s resident acting company. Enthusiast of buck-a-shuck oysters and Vino Verde.

Robinson will direct a cast of local favorites and stars that include Walter DeShields (he/him) playing the bus driver, Alice Yorke (she/her) playing the woman and David Pica (he/him) playing the man.  All three actors are familiar to Inis Nua audiences, having appeared on our stages previously.

The set will be designed by Christopher Haig. Leigh Paradise will design costumes. Dominic Chacon, the lighting designer, is joined by Liz Atkinson, who is designing sound. Meghan Winch is the show’s dramaturg; K. O'Rourke is the choreographer, and Len Kelly is the dialect coach.

Special events during the run will include wine nights every Friday and Saturday evening, featuring a reception with conversation with the show's artists and complimentary wine. Back by popular demand is the Takeaway special post-show exploration of the play's themes, production and relevant events by guests and theatre practitioners, held after 2pm performances every Sunday, March 10, 17 and 24. The Takeaway will explore the unique and exciting challenges of this play with members of its cast and production team. Reduced capacity performances on Wednesdays are mask-required and the capacity is reduced to 50%.

The show has two preview performances on March 6th and 7th–both are sold out– and the show opens March for a total of 18 performances through March 24, 2024. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday shows start at 7pm; Saturday shows start at 2pm & 8pm; and Sunday shows start at 2pm. Tickets are $35 each for general admission and offered for $23 for seniors, with discounts offered for students and theatre industry professionals with ID. Tickets can also be purchased as part of a 2022-2023 Mainstage season subscription package including Once Upon A Bridge and Lovesong (June 5-23) begin at just $26 for seniors, with general admission subscriptions from $40-$63. 

Following a fall season of two Pop-Up Plays at Fergie’s Pub, Ten Dates with Mad Mary and Madame Ovary, the company returns to the mainstage season, for this more traditional but equally fresh contemporary Irish play.

Next up on the Inis Nua Mainstage is the American premiere production of Lovesong by internationally-acclaimed playwright Abi Morgan and directed by Inis Nua Artistic Director KC MacMillan. It will run from June 5-23, also at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake. 

Single tickets or 2-show subscriptions can be purchased by visiting https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2290049®id=3&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Finisnuatheatre.org?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1/tickets or by calling 215-454-9776.
 

ABOUT THE CAST


WALTER DESHIELDS (The Bus Driver) (he/him/his) is an Artist and Educator originally from South Philadelphia and is co-founder and co-artistic director of Theater in the X; a professional theater company created in 2013 to provide residents of West Philadelphia and the African American community at large the opportunity to see professional quality theater in their own neighborhood for no cost. Recent onstage performances include Raisin in the Sun, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Zooman and the Sign, Chicken and Biscuits, Clyde's, West Philly Meeting, Buried Child, and Sweat. Recent Film performances include "Call Her King" and "Swing: The Movie" streaming on BET+ and Amazon Prime Video respectively. He sends all his love to Sydney, Malik, London, and Walt Jr. Keep up with Walter on social media @walterdeshields.

Alice Yorke (A Woman) (she/her/hers) is a Philadelphia-based actor, creator, director, and producer. She is a Co-Artistic Director of Lightning Rod Special and the lead artist on their piece, The Appointment (Best of 2019 Theater: New York Times, Time Out New York, New York Magazine). With LRS: performer/creator: SPEECH, Hackles, Let the Dog See the Rabbit and Sans Everything; creative producer: Underground Railroad Game (2015). Performance credits include How to Be Brave (Inis Nua), The Gap (Azuka Theatre, Barrymore nomination, outstanding supporting performance), Down Past Passyunk (InterAct Theatre), Alex Bechtel's The West, Pig Iron Theatre Company’s 99 Breakups and Pay Up. Recent directing credits include We Are Trying to Reach You, an audio work by Katie Gould as part of LRS’s Sound Break series, Cerebral (UArts), and Lee Minora’s White Feminist (Ars Nova Ant Fest, Sick of the Fringe - London). In 2019 she was named the Best Theatre Talent in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine. Proud graduate of the inaugural class of the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training.

David Pica (A Man) (he/him) is an Actor, Text Coach, Director, Adjunct Professor. Glad to be back at Inis Nua (Previously seen in The Radicalisation of . . . Manning, How to Ruin a Life from the Comfort of Your Own Beanbag)!  Regional credits: People’s Light, New Light, Hedgerow Theatre, Delaware Shakespeare, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Theater Ariel, Theatre Exile, Theatre in the X, Lantern, PAC, Azuka, Tiny Dynamite, Revolution Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Clark Park, Commonwealth Classic, Quintessence Theatre Group, & Greenfield Collective.  He trained at Millikin University, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and with The Factory.




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