Ambitious 1st Irish Theater Festival lands in New York City this January

Let's hear it for Origin Theatre Company. For ten years now they have successfully mounted the ambitious 1st Irish Theater Festival in New York City, showcasing the work of contemporary Irish playwrights.

Their aim is as simple as it is groundbreaking, to reflect modern Ireland though the plays of contemporary writers.

And this they have done on an often shoestring budget, creating a unique Irish platform that shows our sometimes surprised American cousins how we live now, live onstage at New York’s only all-Irish theater festival.

For the first nine years the 1st Irish Festival ran through the month of September, but now the Origin board have announced it is moving to a new permanent slot in January on the occasion of its special 10th anniversary edition (1st Irish 2018 runs from January 9 to 29).

Curated and coordinated by visionary Festival founder George C. Heslin, 1st Irish has been celebrated in New York for its emphasis on audience engagement through parties, panels and well attended workshops.

Read more: Irish theatre to keep an eye out for in New York this December

George C. Heslin with Meryl Streep.

George C. Heslin with Meryl Streep.

But its Next Generation and Breaking Ground series have provided career launch-pads for new Irish artists that have gone on to further success and acclaim. Since its inception it has also always been a competitive festival too, with awards given across categories like acting, production and direction, because of the sheer diversity of the projects.

1st Irish 2018 commences on Tuesday, January 9 with productions that include the 20th anniversary staging of Enda Walsh’s breakthrough play Disco Pigs at the Irish Rep.

Directed by John Haidar, the show stars Harry Potter alum Evanna Lynch alongside rising star Colin Campbell in their US stage debuts. The story of two misfits who’ve been inseparable since birth, we follow them as they take the fatal plunge into the world of drugs, booze and the raves. The play shows at the Rep from January 5 to February 18 and tickets are selling fast.

Read more: How failing law school led Cillian Murphy to his acting career

Next up is Party Face, the new play that created a sensation in Ireland. Oscar winner Hayley Mills will head an Irish and American cast in this sparkling New York production at City Center. Described as a hilarious and bitingly honest play about the lengths we all go to convince people we’ve got it all together - and the love and acceptance we find once we allow the truth to expose our imperfectly perfect selves. of Isobel Mahon’s play is certain to be a sellout. Party Face will play at City Center Stage II, from January 11 to April 8.

Dying For It will open at The Cell, the world premiere of a new dark comedy by New York-based Irish writer Derek Murphy, who previously wowed 1st Irish audiences last year with his equally dark play Appendage. Murphy's latest will run from January 16 to 28.

the kelly women from "Dyin' For It" Maria Deasy Aoife Williamson Sarah Street

Posted by Dyin' For It on Déardaoin, 4 Eanáir 2018

Meanwhile Boston’s Tir Na Theatre Company will brings Bernard McMullan’s acclaimed Jimmy Titanic back to the New York stage. The play introduces us to an angel played by Colin Hamell, who more than 100 years after the fateful maiden voyage is still on board and still steering the Titanic’s legacy. The play will run on Thursday, January 25 at 7 P.M. and on Friday and Saturday, January 26, 27 at 9.P.M. at The Cell.

Torn Page Theater in association with The W.B. Yeats Society will present the Irish poet's The Only Jealousy of Emer as devised and directed by the celebrated Dublin director Ray Yeates.

In this site-specific rendition, ancient Irish mythology and Japanese Noh theater are combined for a Chelsea townhouse production in what was once the home of Rip Torn and the late Geraldine Page. The play performs on Friday, January 19 through Sunday January 28.

Popular Bronx-based Poor Mouth Theatre Company returns with a special encore production of Don Creedon’s site-specific comedy Guy Walks into a Bar, which won the Festival’s audience award for best play in 2010.

It's a by turns funny and sad tale of a broken man trying to get back into the dating game after a totally demoralizing divorce and it runs for two nights only at The New York Irish Center in Long Island City, on Thursday January 18 and a week later on the 25, both shows at 7:15 P.M.

Origin’s Breaking Ground series commissions five writers to explore the exploding opioid epidemic in America by writing five new short plays based on a single newspaper article about the crisis.

Staged in the apartments above Bloom’s Tavern on three consecutive evening, the playwrights are Geraldine Hughes, Honor Molloy, Sarah Street, Brenda Meaney, and Lisa Tierney Keogh. The show runs Thursday through Saturday, January 25, 26, 27 at 7 P.M. and 9 P.M.

The Lyric Theatre of Belfast in partnership with Origin will build what they are calling “a new cultural bridge between New York and Northern Ireland” by sharing the work of two unique writers.

In a free reading performed by local Irish actors, Away with the Fairies by Seamus Collins, and All Mod Cons by Erica Murray will be cleverly juxtaposed. The shows will run at American Irish Historical Society on Wednesday, January, 17 at 7 P.M. It's a free event.

The New York City Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) will present Scor on Broadway, a unique night in which the seven GAA clubs in New York show off their cultural projects in a spirited off-season arts competition that will be voted on by the audience and a blue-ribbon jury. The event will be held at Symphony Space on Friday, January 19 at 7 P.M.

A day-long Symposium with invited guest speakers, including distinguished writers, directors, actors and arts executives will deeply mine the current arts scene in Northern Ireland at the American Irish Historical Society on Saturday January 27, from 11 A.M. To 5 P.M. The event is free.

Finally Opus Books in association with The Irish Consulate will present Dear Mr. Beckett, a reading of selected passages from the letters of Samuel Beckett to his publisher at Grove Press, Barney Rosset.

Conceived by publisher and writer Glenn Young, and featuring the celebrated Irish actors Billy Carter and Olwen Fouere, the evening not only sheds new light on Beckett’s career, but is a hilarious chronicle of a friendship between like-minded modernist iconoclasts. The unmissable show will perform at The Irish Consulate on Monday January 29 at 1 P.M.

Support for Origin’s 1st Irish Festival 2018 is provided by its lead sponsors Mutual of America and McVicker & Higginbotham. Funding is also provided by its Presenting Partners: Bank of Ireland, Goldman Sachs, The Ireland Funds, the Irish Consulate, and the Northern Ireland Bureau and by its Title Sponsors, Tourism Ireland, Culture Ireland, the New York State Council on the Arts, the NY State Legislature, and with public funds from NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and through individual patrons.

For tickets and schedules for 1st Irish 2018 click HERE.