The Irish Repertory Theatre has been named the 2011 recipient of the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually by the Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. (IAW&A). Irish Rep founders Charlotte Moore, who is also the company’s artistic director, and Ciarán O’Reilly, producing director, will accept the award at a festive celebration on the evening of Monday. Oct. 17 at the Manhattan Club, just north of the Times Square location where O’Neill was born and one day after the 123rd anniversary of his birth.
Opening its doors in 1988 with Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, The Irish Rep has consistently pursued its mission to bring works by Irish and Irish American masters and contemporary playwrights to American audiences, to provide a context for understanding the contemporary Irish-American experience, and to encourage the development of new works focusing on the Irish and Irish-American experience.
IAW&A board member T.J. English said, “Irish American Writers and Artists is proud to present its 2011 Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award to Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly, the founders of the Irish Repertory Theatre. Together, starting with little more than a shared dream and indefatigable determination, they’ve made the Rep into one of the theatrical community’s most creatively vibrant and artistically significant venues. Along with their brilliant staging of O’Neill’s plays, Charlotte and Ciarán have presented season after season of critically acclaimed productions. With the Rep, they’ve done for Irish theater in New York what Yeats and Lady Gregory did for Dublin with the Abbey. Their contributions to the arts in general and Irish-American culture in particular are immeasurable. They’ve richly earned this award.”
Moore and O’Reilly wrote, “It is an honor pure and simple to be recognized for our work, but to receive an award with Eugene O’Neill in the title is deeply meaningful.” They quoted O’Neill himself to summarize the vision that drives and sustains the Irish Rep: “’The people who succeed and do not push on to a greater failure are the spiritual middle-classers. The man who sets out for the mere attainable should be sentenced to get it–and keep it. Only through the unattainable does man achieve a hope worth living and dying for–and so attain himself.’ In that spirit or perpetual striving, they concluded, “we treasure this award both for the honor it brings and the inspiration it provides.”
On behalf of the board of the Irish Rep, chairperson Ellen McCourt spoke of the “generous, innovative, creative, and oh let’s just say it, brilliant” work that Charlotte and Ciaran have done in bringing the Irish Rep to where it is today. “The Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award,” McCourt said, “is an especially appropriate honor. From the moment they opened their doors with Sean O’Casey’s ‘The Plough and the Stars,’ in 1988, the theatrical community has been continually enriched by a remarkable series of Irish and Irish-American productions. Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal puts it simply when he describes The Irish Repertory Theatre as ‘One of the finest theatre companies in America.’ Ciaran and Charlotte are true heroes as well as great artists. I can’t imagine two worthier recipients of the O’Neill Award.”
In addition to the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award, the Irish Rep has been honored with the 2007 Jujamcyn Award, a special Drama Desk Award for “Excellence in Presenting Distinguished Irish drama,” and the Lucille Lortel Award for “Outstanding Body of Work.”
The IAW&A annually bestows the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award on an Irish American writer or artist who has created a body of work that places them among the great artists and entertainers of all time. Playwright Eugene O’Neill embodied the highest level of artistic achievement. With his unparalleled body of work in the theater, he not only won many prestigious awards (including four Pulitzers and a Nobel Prize for Literature), he maintained a level of artistic integrity that set the bar for all to come.
Actor Brian Dennehy was honored with the 2010 O’Neill Award. Novelist William Kennedy accepted the inaugural O’Neill Award in 2009.
O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award Cocktail Reception, will begin at 6.00 pm on Monday, October 17, 2011 at the Manhattan Club, upstairs at Rosie O’Grady’s, 800 7th Avenue at the corner of 52nd St., near Times Square. .
Founded and operated as a non-profit organization, Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. celebrates the achievements of Irish- American writers and artists, past and present, and works to highlight, energize and encourage Irish Americans working in the arts. IAW&A supports free speech, the rights of immigrants, the equality and dignity of all, and the process of peaceful, positive social change in the U.S., Ireland and around the world.
Founding board members of Irish American Writers and Artists Inc, include writers Peter Quinn, TJ English, Pete Hamill, Malachy McCourt, Mary Pat Kelly, Michael Patrick MacDonald and Celtic singer/songwriter Ashley Davis.
For more information about Irish American Writers and Artists, Inc, go to http://www.i-am-wa.org/ where on-line ticket sales will begin soon.
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