The Irish Rep and the Irish Arts Center are the twin venues for Origin Theatre Company's new Plays in May reading series.

New York-based Origin Theatre Company, helmed by artistic director Michael Mellamphy, will bring a series of exciting new Irish plays to New York audiences this month in their Plays in May reading series.

"The Visit" by Deirdre Kinahan will be hosted at the Irish Arts Center at 7 pm on Tuesday, May 16. Directed by Mellamphy, the reading features Jo Kinsella who plays recently bereaved widow Rose, who is finding her feet again after her husband's premature death.

Healing after grief leads her to the country and western dance scene, where she's being gently coaxed back toward life until one evening a knock on the door turns everything, including her marriage and her memories, upside down.

Along the way in this tender and funny play, Rose meditates on her marriage to her husband Stephen, on her sons, and on the strange man who knocked on her door. Kinahan's heart-warming and touching new play explores “a hidden social reality we are only beginning to understand” and any opportunity to see Kinsella take the stage is an opportunity not to be missed. 

Rex Ryan is the son of the late, lamented king of the Irish airwaves Gerry Ryan and his play "Pop Tart Lipstick" will also be read at the Irish Arts Center on Tuesday, May 16. Once again directed by Mellamphy, the actors are Rep regulars Johnny Hopkins (last seen in Brian Friel's "The Home Place" and Daniel Marconi last seen in Ciara Ni Chuirc's hard-hitting drama "Made By God.")

In "Pop Tart Lipstick," the character Harris (Hopkins) has just been released from Mountjoy Prison. Meanwhile, John (Marconi) has recently secured his first real job as a bus driver and is pursuing a new way of life. 

Harris has a quick escape plan, some lipstick, a stash of stolen drugs, and a ticket to Walt Disney World that he can't use. As the two men reunite on one fateful night, they are forced to make the biggest decision of their lives. First produced by The Glass Mask Theatre in Dublin, this is the play's debut in New York City.

“It's a dark comedy about inner city working-class men who have a history,” explains Mellamphy. “One is in his early 20s, one is in his early 30s and the piece is about escaping your past, how hard it can be, and sometimes how important it can be. It's about making plans and moving forward. And it's also about sitting down and having some pop tarts.”

The final show in the Plays in May series is "Cortisol" by Megan Haly and Shannon Haly at the Irish Repertory Theatre at 7 pm on Monday, May 22. Directed by Bailey Bassand featuring Megan Haly and Shannon Haly onstage, "Cortisol" tells the story of Sam who, through love, grief, and self-discovery, is learning to navigate life in her twenties. Co-written by sisters Megan and Shannon, Shannon won the Origin 1st Irish 2023 breakthrough artist award recipient.

“They're both real-life sisters and a dynamic duo. They're both playwrights actors who are involved in lots of arts work around town and they both hail from Cork. But Shannon was this year's recipient of the Origin 2023 Breakthrough Artist Awards, because of her work with 'Between The Sheets' up at An Beal Bocht Cafe in the Bronx which was part of our First Irish season in 2023. And 'Cortisol' is just a really amazing little two-hander play that's about an hour long.”

“It's very important for me with Origin that we're shining a light on the next generation of artists, whether they're playwrights, actors, and directors, and making sure we consistently give a platform to the talent that's upcoming.”

That commitment is more than just lip service. For over two decades, Origin Theatre has provided a platform for over 300 playwrights from Ireland and Europe in New York City and through their regular programming such as the annual Origin 1st Irish Festival, the Plays in May reading series, the Bloomsday Revel and their main-stage productions, they continue to consistently present and produce work that reflects the entire island of Ireland and its diaspora through the storytelling of its brightest contemporary artists.

"Our Bloomsday Revels will be taking place again this year at Blooms Tavern on 58 Street in Manhattan, this time on June 11. So certainly mark your calendars for that! And we're also in the midst of the planning for our annual gala which is going to be on October 13,” Mellamphy continues. 

“Here in New York, we have a track record of putting on readings that have gone on to bigger and better things such as 'Hard Times' with former Black 47 frontman Larry Kirwan, which ended up becoming 'Paradise Square' on Broadway. And last year we read 'Made By God' which ended up having an off-Broadway run at the Rep.”

So there you have it folks, catch new stars on the rise this month at the Irish Arts Center and the Irish Rep.