by Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer
The true collaborative nature of the Irish American Writers and Artists Salon was on display at The Cell Theater on Tuesday, May 21. The special theme of Monologues & More brought a full house for a “fantastic” night. Poets, playwrights, dancers, actors and singers were bookended by pieces of history and comedy.
And in the middle, a birthday party for three popular folks: Maura Mulligan, John Kearns and Kevin McPartland.
John Kearns, Maura Mulligan, and Kevin McPartland
The evening started with a hush as Christy Kelly read from his new collection of poetry. Christy, a poet, screenwriter, and novelist is working on a novel entitled, Nobody Said.
Karen Daly showed her love of research into New York’s Irish history with a piece on a fascinating character: “Remember Me When You Get to New York: The Improbable Life of Jerome Collins.” A brilliant young man left County Cork in the 1860s on a journey that took him to the heart of the Irish nationalist movement in America… the salt marshes of New Jersey…elegant rooms in New York and Paris… and a terrible death on a failed Arctic expedition.
Playwright Shelia Walsh and actor Jack O’Connell read from Sheila’s play in progress, Surrender in Somerville, a look at how a love affair in the 1960s reunites two lonely people decades later. Funny, touching, and great chemistry!
Jack O’Connell and Sheila Walsh
Sheila promises more laughs to come when she shares more scenes from Surrender in Somerville. You can see our talented Jack O’Connell on YouTube in Brazzaville Teen-Ager directed by Michael Cera.
Sharon Wajswol previewed two songs from the musical farce, Ex*rcise This! The Musical (book by Sharon Wajswol, music and lyrics by Robert Shard), “She’s Been Grieving” sung by Ben Boecker, and “I Am a Very Fancy Man” by Tom Schubert. First performed as a straight farce at HB Studio, NYC, the show is now in development as a full-blown musical with a new third act and the addition of 29 outstanding songs by composer and lyricist Robert Shard.
Ex*rcise This! The Musical is about Stephanie, a television news writer and widow with a pyromaniac teenage son. Her neighbor Mark, a playwright/shoe salesman is in love with her, but scared to ask her out. An exercise teacher also in love with her turns out to be a representative of the “dark side.” When Mark gets his messages crossed about his neighbor needing to be exercised, he calls his trusty priest Father O’Malley and all “hell” breaks loose.
Bernadette Cullen who shared her poetry at a previous salon read from her work in progress about three generations of an Irish and Irish/American family. Tonight she read monologues from this compelling work. Bernadette is still undecided about actual format of this work, but she continues to write monologues. We look forward to seeing her progress.
In a poignant monologue enlivened by music and dance, Maura Mulligan took us back to rural Ireland in the 1950s, before they had running water and electricity. We joined her by the fire in her family’s thatched cottage on the night before she left County Mayo for America. Drawing from her memoir, Call of the Lark, Maura brought to life “The Last Night” when friends came to bid her a final farewell. Accompanied by expert fiddler, Marie Reilly, Maura’s lively dancers – Kate Foster, Stephanie Lutz, Michele Cetera, and Vera Wrenn – played the visiting friends who performed the traditional dance steps that Maura learned in childhood.
Maura wishes to thank IAW&A member Mary Tierney of the Theater for the New City for her suggestions with the monologue.
Maura with Kate Foster, Stephanie Lutz, Vera Wrenn, and Michele Cetera
Paul Nugent and Anna Nugent starred in a staged reading of a tense one-act play, “The Long Wet Grass” covering subjects of loyalty, childhood and loss. Directed by Kira Simring of The Cell Theater, with stage directions by Leah Abrams of Custom Made Theatre Company, the play was adapted from the award-winning story from Seamus Scanlon’s collection, As Close As You’ll Ever Be.
Paul Nugent and Anna Nugent
Margaret McCarthy presented a monologue from her play, Deirdre Retrograde, based on her cycle of poems on the Deirdre myth. This monologue introduced Levorcham, Deirdre’s tutor in poetry and magic; it was commandingly performed by actor Marie Bridget Dundon, whose acting credits include Judith Shakespeare Company, The G.B. Shaw Project, Triangle Theatre Company, and extensive Canadian theatre and television. McCarthy is seeking a staged reading/production of the play and book publication of the poetry collection: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marie Bridget Dundon
In his first time performing at the salon, but surely not on the stage, Noel Lawlor presented Tom’s monologue from the final scene of Tennessee Williams’, The Glass Menagerie. Our only monologue from an American theatrical classic.
Sarah Fearon as Snazzy Peabody brought the night’s laughs in “ Life, Death & Taxes.” Snazzy puts the “real” in real estate and a bit of the surreal, too. No deal is too small or too big for Snazzy! With an enormous helmet of hair and the largest tinted glasses a human head can hold, Snazzy is waiting for her tax accountant while she wields calls via her surgically attached phone. This “head case” gives her opinions on the Native American “sale” of Manhattan Island, picking out a cemetery plot with a view of the New York skyline, and dealing with kids in cyber comas. Snazzy hopes to buy a “smart clone” to eventually do her taxes.
Sarah Fearon as Snazzy Peabody
John Skocik, actor and lead singer of Girl To Gorilla, read a monologue from John Kearns’s play, Resignations, about two women with artistic ambitions working in an absurd office. John’s monologue was one of five conference calls in the play, which parody corporate jargon from various industries. The Conference Calls have been published by the literary magazines, Fact-Simile and ASBDQ.
We usually close with a song and the wonderful Vera Wrenn lead us in the “Connemara Cradle Song.” A lullaby to a child and at the same time, a hope that her husband, a fisherman, will return home from the sea, this lovely song was source of the American folk song “Down in the Valley.” Vera chose it to engage the audience to sing along and engage we did.
Vera Wrenn Getting the Audience to Sing Along
A perfect gentle ending to a jam-packed night.
Join us next time, Tuesday, June 4 at 7pm at the Bar Thalia, Broadway & 95th Street.
Here is the complete schedule of Salons for 2013. They all begin at 7 pm.