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Catching Up with the Irish Cultural Centre - This Week: Danny Venezia, ICC Member and Actor in "A Broth of a Boy"

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Danny Venezia playing Brendan Behan
Danny Venezia playing Brendan Behan

Actor Danny Venezia, the star in Richard Smithies’ one-man show A Broth of A Boy is very much looking forward to a fast arrival of October when he gets “three days to hang out and meet” with the Irish Cultural Centre community during the Céad Míle Fáilte Production. The show, based on the life of Brendan Behan, plays from October 11th through the 13th at 8:30 p.m. in the ICC Theatre. Danny who hails from Charlestown and resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts has been soaking up the acclaim and interest of theatre-goers during his recent performances at London’s Edinburgh Festival and New York’s Donnell Library and Irish American Historical Society; but, as he quietly gushes in an earnest, earthy voice, he has been “salivating to do the show in front of an Irish audience.”

The people and place of the Irish Cultural Centre New England offer a setting where Danny feels that the writings, songs and memoirs of Brendan Behan will ripple through space allowing the audience to move beyond a surface knowledge of Irish history to its connection with the sensibilities of cruelty, endurance, tolerance and resilience that have infused the Irish spirit over hundreds of years. While A Broth of a Boy is the story of one man living as an Irish writer, IRA renegade and prisoner in 20th century Dublin, Danny has come to know Behan as one man with a universal understanding of Irish history, humor and song as a vehicle for illustrating the “ridiculousness of humans’ extreme treatment for each other.”

For Danny, becoming Behan’s character under the guidance and vocal coaching of director Richard Smithies meant going to Dublin for a week and literally walking the walk of Brendhan Behan. Tracing Behan’s footsteps from North Circular Road, Phoenix Park to O’Connell Street gave Danny the chance to be in “the rhythm of the people that allows him a deeper telling of the show’s story.” The Dublin visit helped him know the moments on stage when the audience is feeling the authenticity of the simple stage-sets of four different pubs and the meaning of the interspersing of songs.

In this one-man show, the pub singing becomes an extension of the conversation. “An Irish audience totally gets that,” Danny explains, “and, once I understood that the audience will actually feel this so much that they will want to jump right in and join me, I didn’t mind the singing at all.” “In fact,” Danny goes on, “I’ve added one song and a couple of more verses to songs already in the script.” How engaged an audience is in recognizing the nuances of the humor and song as underscores to themes of intolerance Behan captures in his writing is what Danny finds to be “particularly fun in playing the part.” This is the type of give and take between actor and audience that Danny feels is uniquely possible at the Irish Cultural Centre performance of A Broth of a Boy.

Danny Venezia and the entire ICC staff look forward to seeing you at the Irish Cultural Centre New England Theatre for A Broth of a Boy’s Opening Night, Thursday, October 11th at 8:30 p.m. in Canton, Massachusetts. For more information about tickets for the October 11-13, 2012 performances please visit www.irishculture.org or call 781-821-8291.

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