Welcome to our first edition of “Notes from the Green Room,” Irish Rep’s member newsletter. We hope this quarterly email will provide some insight into all the programming here at the theater and also show how your support makes all of our work possible, onstage and off!
Your membership this year helped us launch our first season back at our home on 22nd Street. We are so excited to share this newly renovated space with you and our community of artists. Thank you again for being a member and for being a part of our Irish Rep family!
Behind the Scenes: The Emperor Jones
When Producing Director Ciarán O’Reilly decided to revisit The Emperor Jones, he reached out right away to puppet designer Bob Flanagan and choreographer Barry McNabb. Click through the images below to find out more about the inspiration for their craft, and how the actors bring them to life.
Cracking open Crackskull Row
Our W. Scott McLucas Studio Theatre production of Crackskull Row made its debut last fall in a production by the Cell Theatre as part of Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Festival. But when the cast and creative team were invited to return to the play at Irish Rep, they found there was even more to discover, as they told our Patron Night audience on March 16th.
Describing the origins of Crackskull Row, playwright Honor Molloy revealed her roots. “I grew up in Dublin until I was 8. Then I came to America, and I became an American in 5 days. When I started studying acting with Wynn Handman, he said to me, “Why don’t you play Molly Bloom?” And I thought, oh God, I have to do this Irish stuff… But I was acting in my own voice that I had put away for 15 years. And then I started writing. I said, I need to write material, and it was my family’s story that came out.”
“I grew up in the Irish theatre and that language was in our family’s house, bouncing off the walls. The jokes…they’d quote from Riders to the Sea, and it would be funny!” she remembered. “Most of this play is family history, but it’s strained through. You couldn’t write this play if you didn’t have it in the blood.”
By remounting the production at Irish Rep, the entire team had the chance to reinvest in the world of the play. Director Kira Simring explained, “It’s very difficult to build a new show from absolutely nothing and really know what it is. It’s rare that you get the opportunity that Charlotte and Ciaran gave us, to take this play and move into it like you would with an extant or known play, with that level of detail and nuance and synthesis.”
“I still am seeing things for the first time. I’m having a-ha moments,” remarked actor Colin Lane, who plays Rasher and Basher. “I’ve never told a story this way. For starters, I’ve never killed myself onstage in quite this way.”
Actor Gina Costigan agreed, “We thought we were in for an easy job, “oh, let’s pop along and do it again!” We realized we had to do the work over, which the people who’ve come around to see us again have noticed. In this size theatre, the audience can’t really escape us, and that changed the dynamic.”
As Honor described it, “The play was forced to get even more marinated. We pushed it down to the kernel of it, and the subtlety of it too. We discovered it’s like Hitchcock, how much can you place off screen and still make people wince and freak?”
“It’s very near and very dangerous, but I think they’re kind of thrilled to be that close to the action that you can get spat upon,” actor Terry Donnelly pointed out. “When you’re on this stage, you can hear and gauge the audience’s reactions, and then you temper your performance to that.”
On the experience of seeing her play brought to life again, Honor reflected, “There’s so much that’s hit me now. The last run, I was in the middle of the violence of the play, and the trauma of the play. It’s a really hard thing when you’re still making it. And now, I just sit back and watch it with the audience, and I’m in a whole other place than I’ve ever been as a playwright before. I’ve never been in the place where I can just watch the play, where it’s yours—the actor’s and the audience’s.”
Kickoff Ceili on 22nd Street
We celebrated our 2016-2017 season in grand Irish style at our Kickoff Ceili on Saturday, September 24! Matthew Broderick cut the ribbon to open our beautifully transformed theater while music, theatre, and poetry was enjoyed by our members and neighbors in Chelsea. Click through to see some pictures from our homecoming celebration!
Larry Kirwan’s history of Rebel in the Soul
IrishCentral.com recently interviewed playwright Larry Kirwan, who gave an enlightening look into the history behind his new play in our Studio season, Rebel in the Soul.
“For those of a progressive nature who grew up in Ireland,” said Kirwan, “Dr. Noel Browne was a beacon of light. He was unswervingly on the side of the people rather than any political or religious establishment; he had also successfully led the fight to eliminate tuberculosis, the ‘silent killer’ that had ravaged Ireland for a century. Simply put, he and Archbishop John Charles McQuaid represented progressivism and conservative Catholicism in the Ireland of 1951.”
Departures and Arrivals: Jeff Wingfield
As many of our long-time patrons know, a fixture of Irish Rep’s box office for the past 17 years has been Box Office Manager Jeff Wingfield. Jeff, a multi-tasker extraordinaire, effortlessly juggled calls, emails, and ticket orders, recognizing many members from the first hello!
Jeff, a resident of New Jersey, was offered a fantastic position at Montclair State University, closer to home and eliminating the onerous commute to Chelsea on NJ Transit.
We were very sorry to see him leave us, but we are pleased to announce we have hired his replacement, Izzy Brown. We’ll introduce Izzy more fully in our next newsletter, but she’s now working full-time in the Box Office ready to assist with ticket purchases and questions as needed.
To thank Jeff for his many years of service, we presented him with a special farewell gift at our most recent opening night for our production of The Emperor Jones. We think it’s safe to say he was quite pleased to be honored and we hope he’ll be back to visit us from time to time!
PATRON NIGHT: SAVE THE DATE
Thursday, May 11th
Patron Night for Rebel in the Soul – SOLD OUT
7:00pm performance followed by a talk-back with the cast
Patron Nights are an exclusive benefits for members at the Associate Level and above. Seating is limited. Want to book tickets, or become a qualifying member? Please contact Individual Giving Manager Lauren Miller at 212-255-0270 or Lauren@IrishRep.org.
DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT WITH A MATCHING GIFT!
Many workplaces offer matching gifts for their employees’ charitable donations, sometimes even after retirement. With a match, you could double your support of Irish Rep, and increase your membership benefits too!
Does your employer match gifts? Please send your Matching Gift form to 132 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011 Attn: Lauren Miller, and we will fill out the rest!