A production from Ireland, Little Thing Big Thing, and a play produced in New York, The Quare Land, were the top earners at the 2015 Origin’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival Awards at Scandinavia House in New York on Monday night.
Hooking the festival’s Best Production Award was the Dublin-based Fishamble: The New Play Company’s Little Thing Big Thing, by Donal O’Kelly, while the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York grabbed four awards for The Quare Land which began performances last week and opens officially on Thursday, including Best Director for Ciaran O’Reilly, and Best Playwright for John McManus.
In the acting categories Myles Breen won Best Actor for his revealing look at the life of a cross-dressing gay man from the small-town Ireland in Language UnBecoming a Lady, and Sorcha Fox won Best Actress for her turn as a nun on the lamb with an ex-con in Little Thing Big Thing. This was Fox’s second win in the category; she was a festival best actress winner in 2011 for the play Bogboy.
Two other outstanding performances were also honored -- the beloved Irish comedian Pat Shortt, nominated for Best Actor, instead won the festival’s Origin Award for his charismatic performance in his selfie-titled Selfie, in which he created comic havoc at the Irish Arts Center during the festival.
The festival’s Special Jury Prize went to Peter Maloney of The Quare Land, last year’s Best Actor winner, for his unique contributions to New York theater over many decades and, in particular, for his unforgettable old coot in The Quare Land which is scheduled to run at the DR2 Theatre through November 15. The Quare Land’s fourth award was for Best Design, and award shared by the show’s entire design team.
The evening’s co-hosts were the Broadway actress Geraldine Hughes, and Ciaran Grant, who coordinated the awards ceremony.
In all, seven main stage plays from Belfast, Dublin, Limerick, and New York were seen in competition during the five-week festival that began on September 2, and continues through October 4. Pondling (a New York Times Critic’s Pick at 59E59 Theaters), The Quare Land and Python (playing at An Beal Bocht Café in The Bronx) -- are performing through Sunday.
This year’s blue-ribbon panel of judges included former Fox News senior producer Marvin Himelfarb, TheaterMania.com editor in chief Andy Lefkowitz, and Doug Reside, curator of the Theater Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
In addition to its jury-voted awards, two new cash prizes were also conferred -- a Breaking Ground Award for playwriting sponsored by the Irish Business Organization of New York. The actor Laurence Lowry (Python) received a Special Appreciation Award sponsored by the Irish pub Ryan’s Daughter.
Curated and coordinated by festival founder George C. Heslin, Origin’s 1st Irish is the only festival of its kind to focus exclusively on the work of Irish playwrights, and is the city’s only all-Irish theater festival. Origin Theatre Company (Heslin is the artistic director) is a year-round company based in New York devoted to presenting the American premieres of new works by Europe’s brightest contemporary playwrights.
Over the past 13 years, Origin has introduced works by 150 playwrights to U.S. audiences, from such countries as Romania, Macedonia, Norway, Ireland and the U.K.
For information on Origin visit www.origintheatre.org.