Podcasts will be available for the radio shows!
Podcasts will be available for the radio shows!
by Karen Daly
Summer schedules, rush hour rain made for a light turnout for Tuesday’s IAW&A salon at the Cell. The bright side was an intimate, relaxed evening that had exceptionally fine work from presenters. And it was truly brightened by the presence of a new comic talent, Bryan Walsh.
Mark Butler left us laughing as he read some lines from his new one act comedy, “The Laundry War” (yes, it’s about a relationship that’s worked out while doing the laundry) and then dashed off to rehearsal. It played this past weekend in the Short Plays & Musical Festival at The Players Theatre on MacDougal Street.
More laughs from Sharon Wajswol and her merry cast of seven: Biniam Tekola, Jen Taher, Mark E. Phillips, Phil Kushner, Paul Sheehan, Janine Hegarty, and David Khouri in the “racetrack” scene from the farce Horseplay which Sharon wrote with Joan Bolger-Bobrov.
Cast of Sharon Wajswol’s Horseplay
The setup: an Irish family and a Jewish family live in a two-story house near the Saratoga racetrack. Both families are in debt: one borrows to stage a play in an attempt to resurrect the acting career of wife Nessa O’Callaghan Flynn. The other borrows from shady relatives for their son’s Bar Mitzvah. Nessa’s brother, a jockey, comes to visit with his horse, which does not yet have a proper racetrack name. When the brother and the Bar Mitzvah boy strike up an unlikely friendship, the jockey names his racehorse Bar Mitzvah Boy. But events get fuzzy on race day, when the Rabbi ends up in the jockey’s seat, and history is made at Saratoga!
Salon producer and host, John Kearns read an unforgettable excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, about jilted lover Seamus Logan who ran away from Mayo to Connemara in the late 19th century. Stopping to rest at the Doolough Pass, Seamus encounters famine ghosts who tell the tale of the starving people who were forced to walk from Louisburgh, Co. Mayo to Delphi Lodge in Connemara, Co. Galway and the many who died along the roadsides. The patriarch of the Logan family asks the spirits, “Could they not spare 50, 20, 10, even one of your number?”
New York City, here he comes. Bryan Walsh encountered IAW&A at the Philadelphia Salon, and came to NY to present his work. A stand-up comic and actor with a unique charm, Bryan was born in Cork, grew up in Canada and recently lived in London. As part of his Theatre Studies at McGill University in Montreal, he completed an internship at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He will be appearing at the 2013 Kansas City Irish Festival and we hope to see him at future salons.
Tom Mahon has been reading segments of The Wide Valley about generations of a farm family in upstate New York. On Tuesday night, he presented a multimedia segment about a young boy in the time of the Spanish Influenza that killed 50 million people worldwide in 1918, twice as many who died in WW I.
Bewildered by the epidemic that has killed family, friends and neighbors and shut his school because so many students are sick or have died, he thinks he can “find” the cause on his father’s farm. The boy learns that his best friend has just died, and has questions about death. Tom illustrated the story with evocative period photographs.
Margaret McCarthy placed Deirdre, the heroine of Irish myth among us in “NYC Deirdre” from her poetry collection, In the Becoming. McCarthy described the poem as “a bridge; moving the story’s characters in and out of time and place allowed me to develop the material further, into my stage play Deirdre Retrograde.” She seeks to publish the poetry collection as a book, and a full production of the stage play. See more of Margaret’s work at http://www.margaretmccarthy.com and http://www.avisionandaverse.com.
Mary Lannon read from her short story-in-progress, “They Teased Me about Him,” about grad students sharing a Bronx apartment whose superintendent was attracted to the young woman narrator. For several audience members, the story evoked fond memories of the Arthur Avenue neighborhood. And we all want to see how the relationship develops. Mary teaches English at Nassau Community College, is at work on a dystopian novel, and is trying to sell her first novel.
Short story writer, playwright and Salon stalwart Seamus Scanlon read a new story called “Country Road.” Despite the sweet title, the story was not bedtime reading for children, as it features rotten teeth, a child pyromaniac, OCD, car theft, baseball bats, and high SAT scores. Seamus thought that the audience wasn’t sure whether to laugh or not but those familiar with a certain kind of black humor got it.
Stephanie Silber read an excerpt from a short story entitled “Making Stories” in which a blocked writer tries to kick down the doors while absorbing life lessons about love and longing, fidelity, disappointment, and ultimately, compromise, and true connection. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, Stephanie is thrilled to be working again on fiction, and is seeking representation/publication for her work.
Jack DiMonte concluded the evening with two songs. The first was “The People That You Never Get to Love” by Rupert Holmes. In an effort to create a “reasonable facsimile” of an Irish folk song, Jack lead us in a sing-along of the Beatles’ “All My Loving” at a slow ballad tempo. A soothing close to a stimulating evening.
Don’t forget the next salon is July 2, at the Bar Thalia. John Kearns will be sending good wishes from dear, dirty Dublin.
The time has arrived for our annual gathering o fIAW&A members to highlight accomplishments from the past year and discuss strategy for the year ahead,and to meet and greet one another. The meeting is a great chance for the general membership and Board of Directors to intermingle and also for members to interface with one another. Don’t miss it…but you must RSVP (see below)
WHEN: Wed., June 19, 2013, 6-7:30 pm
WHERE: The Irish Consulate, 345 Park Avenue, 17th Fl., Manhattan.
As always, there is much to discuss. Among other things, we will divide members into various committees to better determine what we might accomplish in the months ahead. Please come to the meeting with ageneral idea of which committee might be best suited to your particular interests and/or skills. The committees are as follows:
Events Committee – helping to plan and organize upcoming events, most notably the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award event, which takes place this year on Monday, October 21, 2013.
Communications Committee – If you have thoughts about how to improve our outreach andcommunications with our members via Facebook, blogand website, this is the committee for you. In particular, we are looking for someone to set up a You Tube page for IAW&A and also a webmaster willing to take on the task of keeping our website up to date.
The Frank McCourt Scholarship Committee – In Spring 2014 we will launch an important new initiative – the Frank McCourt Scholarship. At a luncheon ceremony we will award a graduating student from Frank McCourt High School with a financial honorarium, in honor of writer Frank McCourt. There is much work to be done raising money for the scholarship fund; interfacing with Frank McCourt High School to establish criteria for the award; and planning the event ceremony.
Membership Committee – How do we go about soliciting new members, particularly well-known Irish American artists who should be a member of our organization but are not? If you have ideas or are interested in issues related to bolstering our membership, this is the committee for you.
If you will be attending the meeting, please RSVP at:firstname.lastname@example.org Remember to bring photo ID to gain access to the Irish Consulate.
by John Kearns
Photos by Cat Dwyer
On Friday, June 7th, the IAW&A Salon took its second road trip, this time to Philadelphia. Despite heavy rains, traffic, wrong turns, and assorted mishaps, we all made it safely to the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute at Rittenhouse Square in time to enjoy the lovely reception provided by the Irish Consulate and our gracious hosts.
A welcoming spread at the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute
As in our first road Salon in Fairfield, Connecticut, I was asked to say a few words about the IAW&A. I explained that the IAW&A is primarily an arts organization and that our purpose is to promote the art of Irish-Americans living and dead. We are not associated with any religion, any County, and not even necessarily with Ireland. The IAW&A focuses on the Irish-American experience, and, although the Irish have a long history in America — including several signers of the Declaration of Independence about 15 blocks from where we were gathered — what we are doing with this organization feels new. I urged the people in attendance to join us in our groundbreaking endeavors.
I also tried to express the gratitude that I and the other New York artists felt toward Marie Reilly, Siobhan Lyons, and all the organizers of the road Salon for arranging the event and for the warm welcome.
On a personal note, I added how significant it was for me to take part in this Philadelphia Salon. I had gone to high school and college in the city of Philadelphia, and worked in the mail room of my father’s reinsurance office just a couple of blocks away. I remembered walking the streets right outside of the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute struggling with my early efforts to answer the call to be a literary artist and trying to come to terms with what such a vocation means.
Then, it was enough of my yacking, and time to get started with the Salon …
Fiddler Paraic Keane started with a jig called “Humours of Ennistymon.” He followed that with a set of reels, “Bonnie Ann” flowing into “Jinnie Bang the Weaver.” He concluded with a hornpipe set, “Caisllean an Oir agus the New Century.”
Kevin McPartland read the first chapter of his brand-new book, Brownstone Dreams. In the chapter, Bobby Dutton decides to steal the gun of Vincent Casseo, a local criminal, which Bobby knows is hidden by the schoolyard. This theft sets off a series of events that gets Bobby deeper and deeper into trouble. This was the world-premier of Kevin’s book, and he sold some copies after the Salon.
Kevin McPartland with Brownstone Dreams
Maura Mulligan read from her memoir, Call of the Lark. She read that heart-wrenching excerpt about leaving the family farm at age fourteen to work as a live-in maid . . . “I fixed my eyes on the roadside and put the thoughts that made me feel I was being given away out of my mind.” This led to her telling (not reading) the story of her last night before leaving for America when friends and neighbors came to say a last goodbye and her mother reminding her that in her time this night was called, “The American Wake,” because emigrants never returned. After the presentations, audience members from the Philadelphia Mayo Society wanted signed copies of the book. They identified with Maura’s experience of leaving home in the 50s.
After two readings, it was time for me to bring up some actors from Philadelphia’s Inis Nua Theatre. I introduced Tom Reing who introduced the theatre and the scene from Jared Delaney’s play.
Tom Reing of Inis Nua Theatre Company
Inis Nua players
Delaney’s play, “The Hand of Gaul,” was a comical portrayal of the night when a certain French soccer player (whom I won’t name) handed the ball and got away with it, an illegal play that cost Ireland it’s place in the World Cup.
Mark William Butler
Mark William Butler read a monologue called “Mickey Mouse Is A Mexican,” which is about one New Yorker’s evolving attitude toward the rogue costumed mascots that work the tourists in Times Square. It’s from his theatrical revue in progress, Talking To Yourself On the Streets of New York. He then introduced his brother, actor/director Richard P. Butler, who sang a stirring rendition of one of Mark’s original songs, “Holiday Sale”, from his upcoming musical Bad Christmas Sweater.
We took a brief break before returning with more music and readings ….
A few laughs during the break
First up during the second half was award-winning, Longford-style fiddler, Marie Reilly, accompanied on guitar by Gabriel Donohue. In addition to some jigs and reels, Marie played some quadrilles. Marie comes from eight generations of County Longford fiddlers and always presents music that is beautiful, unusual, and skillfully played.
Gabriel Donohue and Marie Reilly
Following the music, I read three short pieces. The first was the ending of my short story, “Flight,” from my collection, Dreams and Dull Realities, about a young boy who wants to fly off of his swingset into the sky. The second was an excerpt from my novel, The World, in which a young artist wanders the streets of Center City Philadelphia, trying to escape the pain of his unrequited summer love, only to be reminded by the back of a girl’s blonde head. The third was a poem based on a passage from my novel in progress, Worlds, connecting the hangings and last words of Nathan Hale and Robert Emmet.
Memoirist and saxophone player, Jon Gordon, had been kind enough to volunteer to drive Malachy McCourt to Philadelphia and back. He said he was content to remain in the audience. However, during the break, I encouraged him to get up and play, He did a version of “Danny Boy” that amazed the crowd and was a true highlight of the Salon!
Guenevere Donohue performed an excerpt of her theatre piece, Killer is My Name. With Irish language/history and keening, this Bronx/NY Story thrilled the assembled with its originality and scope. Guen has a voice like no other, and her presence in Philly helped rock-out our 1st Salon in the City of Brotherly Love.
Dr. Marian Makins took to the stage next with Gabriel Donohue. She began by reciting a monologue in Attic Greek from Sophocles’s tragedy, Ajax. She then sang beautifully in English and Irish to the accompaniment of Gabriel Donohue’s guitar.
Gabriel Donohue concluded the duo’s set by singing and playing a humorous song on his own.
Malachy McCourt brought the evening to a rousing conclusion with an hilarious excerpt from his book, A Monk Swimming. The excerpt tells of how Malachy got revenge on a barkeep who insisted the just-visiting Malachy check his coat before receiving a drink. Malachy went out to his car, took off all of his clothes except the overcoat, returned to the bar, and obligingly, checked the coat.
Malachy in full flight (and fully clothed)
Dr. Kevin Kearns, Jennifer Kearns Adams, Daisy Kearns, John Kearns
After selling and signing some books, we headed out into the wet night to enjoy the comfort and conviviality of some local Irish pubs. Check out the presenters’ bios from my previous blog post.
Salon presenters, more road Salons are coming soon — and your turn is coming as well!
More fun with our new friends from the City of Brotherly Love:
by Mark Butler
And finally, one for the road… “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Napoleon Hill
One of the most memorable moments in the history of the IAW&A’s Eugene O’Neill Awards, was when Pete Seeger and his banjo took the stage last fall in honor of our award winner Judy Collins.
We all became folkies for that night, so in support of this great friend of the organization, we pass along news of this benefit concert Pete Seeger is chairing in support of the upcoming “Folk City” exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. For tickets, click HERE.