NEW YORK – Kenneth Tynan, the English critic and man of the theater, once said: "It seems to be Ireland's function, every 22 years or so, to provide a playwright who will kick English drama from the past into the present."
Origin Theatre Company's artistic director and founder, George C. Heslin, is keeping Tynan's thought alive by celebrating the group's eighth season with First Irish, a festival of Irish theater that includes a slew of spanking new Irish plays that run from Sept. 2 until Oct. 4 at various playhouses around town. He has also scheduled some special events, lectures and two films: "Kings," the 2007 film written and directed by Tom Collins and based on Jimmy Murphy's play "The King's of Kilburn"; and "Made in China," the hilarious story of Des Bishop’s real-life journey to China to study Mandarin so he could perform stand-up in front of Chinese audiences.
Origin's 1st Irish festival dates, locations and tickets can all be found at 1stIRISH.org.
Here are some of the plays that caught my eye as I looked over the tally and thought they might be of interest:
One is a tale of heart, home and highways titled "Stoopdreamers," a play by Pat Fenton and directed by Kira Simring.
The imagination of a lonely little girl is what "Pondling," is about. It is by Genevieve Hulme-Beaman and directed by Paul Meade. It stars Johnno Boyle O’Connor, who plays the main character, Madeleine, and who was chosen as the best female performer at the Dublin Fringe Festival.
The comic actor Pat Shortt, who played Broadway last season in “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” returns to New York with his newest sketch comedy show "Selfie." Mr. Shott has earned all sorts of awards in Ireland and is a beloved comic star in Erin.
"The Quare Land," by John McManus, will be presented with the Irish Repertory at their DR2 Theatre off of Union Square and will be directed by the Rep's Ciaran O'Reilly. The play is described as “a cantankerous comedy" and, like most of the fare, it is having its American premiere.
"Python," by Brendan Connellan and staged by Don Creedon, is another dark Irish comedy where good turns to bad.
"The Holy Holy Bus,” by Pearse Elliott, is about a bus that stops at all the holy sites of Ireland. Four of the female faithful guide us on this pilgrimage. The performance at the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park on Sept. 25 is free. Reservations can be made.
Bernard Carragher lives in New York and covers the arts and entertainment.