The Second Girl," currently in its world premiere by the Hungtington Theatre Company (at the Calderwood Pavilion through February 21), tells the tale of two Irish women struggling with their new life in America during the first part of the 20th century.
The play is a companion to Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece "A Long Day's Journey into Night" about the Tyrone family. Set in the kitchen of the same home, the play was written by Irish playwright, Ronan Noone, and focuses on the Tyrone's servants - Cathleen, Bridget, and Smythe.
Cathleen is played by, Mackenzie Meehan, who during her research for the character, rediscovered her own Irish roots.
'The Wolf of Wall Street' star was always vaguely aware that her family emigrated from Ireland, and this role presened a new opportunity to learn more. Speaking with her relatives, she discovered that her great grandparents on her paternal side were from County Cavan.
"It was really exciting to dig into my Irish ancestry," the actress said.
"I was curious about where they came from, who made these scarifices."
Acting since she was in fifth grade, the New Yorker, was surprised but delighted to hear that her great grandfather Jack, had also been an actor, performing in various plays in New York. Meehan describes her pursuit and desire to work in the industry as a "calling", but this revelation, suggests to her that it was more a case of being 'in the blood.'
Understanding her Irish roots, reading in-depth about the historical events of the late 19th century that led so many Irish to emigrate, and the struggles the Irish endured in their new life in America; gave the MFA graduate an appreciation for what her family and others would of experienced during those times.
Meehan said "It resonates with me, on all levels, I don't understand. [That's ] really cool to me."
"The Second Girl" continues through February 21, 2015 at the Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA.
For more information, visit: www.huntingtontheatre.org