Irish arts world on a high in New York
THE great review in The New York Times on Monday for "The New Electric Ballroom," the new play by Irish playwright Enda Walsh, further reinforces the remarkable story of Irish success in New York in recent years.
It follows another front page Times rave two weeks previous for the Irish Repertory Theater’s staging of the Eugene O’Neill classic "The Emperor Jones," and a big thumbs up last Friday for 'Finian’s Rainbow' which, while not Irish originated, certainly has a major Irish theme to it.
The Irish economy may be falling apart and the news from Ireland may be depressing, but there is incredible life and energy in the Irish artistic scene both here and in Ireland.
Playwrights like Walsh, Conor McPherson and Martin McDonagh have taken Broadway by storm, and in the process have continued the grand tradition of Brian Friel and Samuel Beckett of a previous generation of Irish-born.
Here in New York the Irish Repertory Theatre has simply gone from strength to strength in recent years, a fact that has been increasingly evident with the kind of reviews they have been drawing.
It is backed by luminaries such as Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne, the Irish government as well as New York City Council President Christine Quinn, who has proven herself a dedicated supporter of Irish arts.
The Irish government has taken bold steps to support Irish arts in the city also. Current Consul General Niall Burgess and his predecessor Tim O’Connor made clear from the outset of their terms that supporting Irish artistic pursuits would be a bedrock of their time here. In both cases it has worked out even better than they might have expected.
A thriving arts scene draws its own support base and can lead to much more involvement with Irish affairs generally. The intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, for instance, while not evident at first, is a clear reality when backing for Irish shows and drawing people in from the business world to the Irish milieu is considered.