th annual Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival returns to a mostly in-person format, running three weeks from Monday January 9 to Tuesday January 31.Participating theatres and cultural organizations in New York include 59E59 Theaters, the Irish Repertory Theatre, the Irish Arts Center, the cell, Ryan’s Daughter and Symphony Space in Manhattan; the NY Irish Center in Queens, and An Beal Bocht in The Bronx.
Presented by the NY Irish Center, and The Drilling Co, now in its 22nd year under the artistic direction of Hamilton Clancy, whose mission is to produce new plays by emerging dramatists who wish to incite social change. The Drilling Co’s innovative outdoor stagings of Shakespeare FREE, in NYC’s Lower East Side and Bryant Park, support a dynamic company of professional theatre artists, and bring audiences of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds together.
Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival is the only festival of its kind devoted to producing and presenting the theatrical work of contemporary Irish playwrights from around the world, in a mix of brand new and recently acclaimed productions from both sides of the Atlantic. Tickets are now on sale at www.origintheatre.org
1/ OPENING CEREMONY Irish Consulate NY Mon Jan 9, 6pm
The Festival's out-of-town guests, members of New York's extensive local Irish theater community and our many friends of the Festival gather for this “Welcoming.” The by-invitation reception is hosted by the New York Consul General Helena Nolan, Origin’s board chair Carletta Downs, and Origin artistic director Mick Mellamphy.
2/ HEAVEN Performances at 59E59 Theatres from Jan 11 to 29
Opening the Festival is the US premiere of “Heaven,” from Dublin’s Fishamble, the New Play Company. Written by Eugene O’Brien (winner of the Rooney Prize for Literature for “Eden”), directed by Jim Culleton (Irish Times Best Director Award winner 2019), and featuring Andrew Bennett and Janet Moran in their acclaimed performances. Set in County Offaly, during the weekend of a local wedding, “Heaven” introduces us to Mairead and Mal, who are struggling to keep their marriage together. This is the Olivier Award-winning Fishamble’s 9th 1st Irish import.
3/ FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER IS DRUNK… Performances at 59E59 Theatres from Jan 11 to 29
Portstewart’s Big Telly in Northern Ireland -- pioneers of immersive, site-specific theatre production -- brings us the New York premiere of their acclaimed, immersive take on the classic Frankenstein myth… “Frankenstein’s Monster is Drunk and the Sheep Have All Jumped the Fences.” The pitch-black dark comedy, which The Guardian calls “magical” is devised by Zoe Seaton and based on the short story of the same name by Owen Booth. Dates and times (please do not choose Jan 11)
In 1946 Frankenstein’s monster is dug out of a glacier, where he’d crawled after his Hollywood career had tanked. Fully defrosted, he meets his match, a spark that ignites a love story of monstrous proportions. Featuring Chris Robinson (as the narrator), Nicky Harley (as the monster’s wife), Rhodri Lewis (as the monster), and Vicki Allen (multiple roles), “Frankenstein’s Monster” is seen by its creators as a boldly irreverent allegory of post-conflict Northern Ireland.
4/ Poor Mouth Theatre Co’s Holiday Pantomine BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at An Beal Bocht Café Sat Jan 14 at 8pm, and Sun Jan 15 at 2pm
Poor Mouth Theatre Company in The Bronx lets the Christmas holidays linger on with special encores of their immensely popular holiday pantomine, “Beauty and the Beast.” Staged in the charming and bustling An Beal Bocht Café, the company’s permanent home, which is tucked snugly in a traditionally Irish enclave in The Bronx. Yes, Virginia, it’s always Christmas in the Bronx! Written and directed by Scott Kennedy.
5/ ENDGAME – Performances at the Irish Rep Jan 25 to Mar 12
Irish Repertory Theatre presents a star-studded production of Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame,” directed by Ciarán O’Reilly, and featuring Bill Irwin, John Douglas Thompson, Joe Grifasi, and Patrice Johnson.
A tragicomedy of epic proportions about the end of everything, “Endgame” tells the story of Hamm (John Douglas Thompson), who is reduced to living in one room, in which he sits blind and chair-bound. His only escape is the company of his aging, legless parents (Joe Grifasi and Patrice Johnson), who live in garbage bins, and his shuffling servant, Clov (Bill Irwin), who is at his beck and call, and who, like a dog, comes when whistled for. The only thing left for Hamm is to wait for the inevitable end. A pinnacle of Beckett’s characteristic raw minimalism, Endgame was notably the Nobel Prize-winning Irish-born playwright’s favorite play. Dates and times (please do not choose Jan 25)
6/ THE SMUGGLER – Performances at The Irish Rep Jan 18 to Feb 26
The Irish Repertory Theatre brings us the Off-Broadway premiere of Ronan Noone’s scorching character study, “The Smuggler.” In this Mamet-like story in rhymed verse of an Irish immigrant pursuing the American dream, Mick Mellamphy reprises his role from the Origin 1st Irish 2019 production which earned him a nomination for best actor, and a Best Playwright Award for Noone’s original work.
An Irish immigrant trying to make it as a writer on Amity, an affluent summer colony in Massachusetts, loses his job as a bartender, and gets drawn into the dark underbelly of the island. Dates and times (please do not choose Jan 18)
7/ HERSELF – at the NY Irish Center Wed Jan 11 @ 7pm
“Herself,” by Irish-American playwright, poet and performer Tim McGillicuddy, takes us to a haunted pub, where a young woman, returning to her hometown following the death of her brother, confronts -- and attempts to transform -- the rumors of the past. A dark and sometimes comic look into the destructive power of gossip.
FEMME FIRST 2 Plays in Rep at the Cell
A women-focused festival-within-the-festival at the cell, “Femme First” features workshop productions of two new plays by distinguished women playwrights.
8/ THE FUNNY THING ABOUT DEATH at the cell Fri Jan 20 @ 8:30pm, Sat Jan 21 @ 6pm, Sun Jan 22 @ 5:30pm, Tue Jan 24 @ 6pm, Wed Jan 25 @ 8:30pm, Thu Jan 26 @ 6pm, Fri Jan 27 @ 8:30pm, Sat Jan 28 @ 6pm, Sun Jan 29 @ 3pm
With over 30 million views of her online work, Kim Kalish brings us the Edinburgh Fringe sensation, which enjoyed a sold out, 5-star run this past August. A multi-competition winning sketch performer and improviser and storyteller, the New York native is an Upright Citizens Brigade alum and Conan O’Brien regular. Told through a series of interconnected stories, “The Funny Thing About Death” takes us through Kalish’s grief from losing the love of her life at just 23 years old.
9/ IT’S IN THE PLAY at the cell Fri Jan 20 @ 6pm, Sat Jan 21 @ 8:30pm, Sun Jan 22 @ 3pm, Tue Jan 24 @ 8:30pm, Wed Jan 25 @ 6pm, Thu Jan 26 @ 8:30pm, Fri Jan 27 @ 6pm, Sat Jan 28 @ 8:30pm, Sun Jan 29 @ 5:30pm
Leading New York actor Orlagh Cassidy appears in the premiere of “It's In The Play” a new play by Cassidy and Kate Lardner. The project has been incubating at Nancy Manocherian's the cell theatre under the direction of the cell’s artistic director Kira Simring. In the rich tradition of Irish storytelling, “It’s In The Play” is a brave and intimate reconstruction of the puzzle of a fractured family’s story, exploring memory, loss, and love and revolving around the promise of a sister.
10/ Screening of the film THE LETTERS – Ryan’s Daughter Thur Jan 26, 7pm
“The Letters,” an award-winning Irish film by Robbie Walsh about three women from different walks of life who believe they have weeks to live due to the false results of their cervical cancer checks, will be seen in a special Festival screening at popular pub Ryan’s Daughter (upstairs). “The Letters,” which garnered four stars in the RTE Guide when it premiered in Ireland, stars Sarah Carroll, Mary Murray, Kathleen Yates, Aishling O’Neill, John Connors, Chris Newman and Robbie Walsh.
11/ CROSSING THE WATERS -- A multimedia event hosted by Irish American Writers and Artists at The Irish Consulate – Mon Jan 23, 6pm
Tonight the Irish American Writers and Artists (IAW&A) officially launches its filmed oral history project, "Crossing The Waters.” Over the course of several months, a team of IAW&A members, along with filmmaker Thomas Rowley, interviewed seniors from the Irish community in New York on their personal and family immigration stories. IAW&A is excited to showcase the finished works, which were made possible through the support of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs Emigrant Support Program. Short versions of seven initial interviews feature Malachy McCourt, Maura Mulligan, Thom Molyneaux, Mary Geraghty, Vera Wren, Mary Fee, and Adrian Flannelly. A Q&A will follow.
12/ SCOR ON BROADWAY – Symphony Space Fri Jan 27, 7pm
Returning to the Festival for the seventh year (almost) in a row, “Scór on Broadway” -- curated by Jane McCarter O’Dowd, and produced by Origin Theatre Company and The NY Irish Center -- packs the Upper West Side’s Symphony Space with a dazzling display of youthful talent from an array of cultural and sports organizations across the cultural arm of New York’s GAA community. Scór is the cultural wing of the Gaelic Athletic Association.
FESTIVAL FINALE – Multiple events Irish Arts Center, Sat - Mon Jan 28, 29, 30
The “Festival Finale” is a weekend of events hosted by the Irish Arts Center, culminating with the Festival’s Closing Ceremony. On Sat and Sun Jan 28 & 29, readings of four new plays, and a John Kearns book event will take place in the library. A concert performance of a new musical -- Eamon O’Tuama’s “Peace and Love in Brooklyn” -- will unfold in the new state-of-the-art mainstage on Sat at 7pm.
13/ HUNGER Irish Arts Center Sat Jan 28, 2:30pm
Bohdan Boychuk’s “Hunger” directed by Emma Denson, digs into Stalin's famine-genocide Holodomor, that lasted from 1932-1933, and resulted in the death of over four million Ukrainians. Millions more were affected afterward, as it led to an erasure of their culture, their art, and (most rapidly vanishing) their language. With echoes of the millions of Irish lives lost in the Great Hunger, Hunger is a battle cry against systems that threaten our individual lives and cultures.
14/ DUBLIN NOIR Irish Arts Center Sun Jan 29, 3pm
The acclaimed New York-based playwright Honor Molloy sets her newest macabrely beautiful play in August 1939. Europe’s boiling up to war. But Ireland’s having none of it. On a day trip to Drogheda, Dubliner Tadgh Steele is captured by a dairy farmer named Murphy and locked in a cowshed. Is Tadgh a poet as he claims or - as Murphy suspects - a Nazi spy? Makes no difference to Murphy’s slop girl Dolly, who falls in love with the handsome stranger and casts him as the hero of a “fil-um in her head.” There’s only one way off the farm. Someone has to die. But who... and why?
Incidentally Molloy's astonishing “Round Room,” about about childbirth in the wards of Dublin’s infamous Rotunda Hospital over several centuries, won Best Playwright in the Origin 1st Irish 2020. Her brutally eloquent “Crackskull Row” (directed by Kira Simring) extended its Origin 1st Irish 2016 run at the cell, becoming a NY Times Critic’ Pick.
15/ THIRST Irish Arts Center Sun Jan 29, 5pm
Ronán Noone’s “Thirst” is set during Eugene O’Neill’s classic Long Day’s Journey Into Night, where passion, wit and beauty bubble to the surface, as two Irish servant women and an American chauffeur pass that day in the kitchen of the Tyrone family’s residence in 1912.
The play’s world premiere at Dorset Theatre Playhouse, elicited these reviews: “A marvel of ensemble acting and an intense emotional experience - for the characters and the audience.” -- Times Argus; “A fantastic, hard fought celebration of life, love and theater.” – Nippertown; “Sublime (…) A Stunningly offered story!” -- Brattleboro Reformer
16/ "THOSE YOU PASS ON THE STREET” Irish Arts Center Sun Jan 29, 7pm
In Laurence McKeown’s arresting new work, Elizabeth, an RUC widow, walks into a Sinn Fein office seeking assistance with anti-social behavior in her area. There she sparks up a friendship with community officer Frank. This brief encounter challenges their pre-conceptions and beliefs, as well family and political loyalties. Directed by Ciaran Byrne, “Those You Pass On The Street” explores the complexities of dealing with the legacy of conflict, especially when that conflict is localized and personal.
Commissioned by Healing Through Remembering, and first produced by Kabosh Theatre Company, both in Northern Ireland, with a cast that includes Mazvita Chanakira, John Duddy, Labhaoise Magee, and Ciaran Byrne
17/ WORLDS Irish Arts Center Sat Jan 28, 4:30pm
Hosted by John Kearns this unique reading and book signing of “Worlds,” Kearns’ four-generation Irish-American novel, features the actors Elisabeth Ness and Brendan Walsh (who will perform excerpts from the novel), supplemented by performances by the one-and-only Mary Courtney, who will render songs mentioned in “Worlds.” Through the lens of the Seven Deadly Sins/Lively Virtues, Worlds examines four generations of the Logan family from Ireland in 1870 to New York City in 1998.
18/ PEACE AND LOVE IN BROOKLYN Irish Arts Center’s Mainstage Sat Jan 28, 7pm
“Peace and Love in Brooklyn,” a new musical by the Cork-born singer-songwriter Eamon O’Tuama of The Prodigals fame receives a concert staging with live band and a cast including Annalisa Chamberlin, Maria Deasy, Liam Forde, Briana Layon, Aedin Moloney, Fergal Titley and Gary Troy. Directed by John Keating, with music direction by Ed Goldshneider who was the Broadway conductor for “Urinetown,” “Peace and Love in Brooklyn” is produced by 2019 Spirit of the Festival Winner Maria Deasy and Eamon O’Tuama, with support from the Irish American Writers & Artists (IAW&A) and Origin Theatre Co.
One drunken night down a blackberry lane in 1973 Dublin, two teenagers conceive a child, but separate in shame. A poignant, time-bending rock ‘n roll drama about an Irish family that never was, “Peace and Love in Brooklyn” follows the lives of Kiero, a troubled and colorful rock n’ roll roadie and his son, Jim, an anxiety-ridden musician raised by a single mother, Theresa. Father and son have never met until Theresa hums a melody she has carried for years. A musical thread unravels and a reckoning begins.
19/ CHANGING THE SHEETS at An Beal Bocht Café Sun Jan 29 @ 8pm
A new comedy by Irish writer Harry Butler, “Changing the Sheets” introduces us to two strangers in bed together after a first date. After the swiping, drinking, and small talk, we all speak a little differently when our heads are against a pillow, do we not? Butler’s comedy of modern manners delves fearlessly into hook-up culture and dating, conveying a litany of some of contortions of speech and society that occur behind closed doors and when the lights are off and no one's around. Featuring Shannon Haly and Harrison Tipping, “Changing the Sheets” premiered at Bewley's Café Theatre, in Dublin in 2021
20/ CLOSING CEREMONY Mon Jan 30, 7pm
The Festival’s Closing Ceremony on Monday Jan 30 will feature excerpts from “Peace and Love in Brooklyn,” and a surprise appearance by the celebrated Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland, which will be in the midst of an all-Ireland tour prior to its Carnegie Hall appearance on St Patrick’s Day. Appearing virtually from Ireland, the youth orchestra will play with members of the Fairfield County Children’s Choir, who will appear live on stage. The evening concludes with the Festival Awards that will recognize unique contributions to the Festival. Reception to follow.
21/ Origin’s St. Brigid’s Eve… BRIGID at the NY Irish Center Tue Jan 31 at 7pm
The final event of the Festival, “Origin’s St Brigid’s Eve,” marks the feast of the patroness saint of Ireland, Saint Brigid, who this year is honored with a new public holiday in Ireland. Tonight at the NY Irish Center, the Cuala Foundation brings us a special staged reading of a new play by Maura Mulligan, “Brigid,” featuring songs from the Grammy-winning vocalist Susan McKeown. Our festive gathering marking the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, will continue with a panel conversation moderated by McKeown on “Reflections on Modern-Day Brigid Connections.” Cast: Katherine O’ Sullivan, Meg Hennessy, Thom Molyneaux, Charles Deitrich, and Ryan Winter Cahill
Produced by Origin Theatre Company, now in its 20th anniversary season, Origin 1st Irish 2023 is curated by Michael “Mick” Mellamphy, Origin Theater’s artistic director since 2021. This will be the third 1st Irish Festival in a row curated by Mellamphy. Dates and times subject to change... Final schedule and tickets on sale on Mon Dec 12 at www.origintheatre.org
This year Origin 1st Irish introduces its new Pub Partners initiative. A consortium of 14 of New York’s most beloved and unique Irish pubs will welcome artists and festivalgoers from New York and abroad with the warm-hearted hospitality of the Island. Drink specials honoring the Festival and its shows, plus opportunities for talks and spontaneous performances in various nooks and crannies will be offered. Participating pub are Blooms Tavern, Hendricksons, Arlene’s Grocery, The Scratcher, Smithfield Hall, The Longacre Tavern, Ryan’s Daughter, The Banc Cafe, The Raven, Dylan Murphy’s, The Globe, The Turnmill, Peter Dillons and The Grafton. For more details visit www.origintheatre.org
Participating theatres, arts orgs and venues include Fishamble: The New Play Company, and Big Telly from Portstewart, Kabosh Theatre in Belfast; Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland in Dundalk; Cuala Foundation, Poor Mouth Theatre (An Bael Bocht Café); The Irish Rep; The Irish Arts Center, the NY Irish Center, The Drilling Co., Ryan’s Daughter, Origin Theatre Company, The Irish American Writers and Artists; Scór on Broadway; Symphony Space, and the cell.
For tickets, and for the festival schedule visit www.origintheatre.org