By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer
We promised another night filled with talent, creativity and an enthusiastic audience and the mid-July IAW&A Salon, hosted by John Kearns, did not disappoint. Tuesday’s program included four theater pieces, possibly a Salon record, but not a surprise, considering the appeal of The Cell’s intimate performance space. Tuesday’s program demonstrated how new members enliven and expand the mix and how they are welcomed by the group. So, bring your friends to an IAW&A Salon. They won’t be disappointed.
The first theater piece was from Pat Fenton. A proud son of the Irish working-class tenements of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, Pat is a terrific journalist whose writing has been influenced by Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin. Pat read from An Afternoon with Breslin, Amen, his one-man play about the many moods of one of America’s most famous journalists. Pat hopes to complete the work by the fall. Meantime, please don’t send him your complaints about something that upset you (or one of your relatives) about a Breslin column. He’s heard them all.
Daniel MacGowan, John Kearns
Next up was Sheila Walsh’s ten minute play, Waiting for Brando, a poignant and darkly hilarious look at Jack Kerouac at the height of his fame. On an afternoon in 1957, Kerouac and his neighbor Billy wait for the phone call that tells them if Marlon Brando will star in the movie version of On the Road. Great performances by Daniel McGowan as Kerouac and John Kearns as Billy.
Lissa Kiernan delivered on her promise to present a kick-ass kick-off reading for her hot-off-the-press first poetry collection Two Faint Lines in the Violet (Negative Capability Press), praised by Annie Finch as “ . . . ahead of its time, a tragic and lucid banner leading us into the 21st century when poets will increasingly be called on to remind us that we are human animals whose fate is held in the earth.” Learn more and order your copy at: twofaintlines.com or come and get a signed copy at the Salon at Bar Thalia on August 6. The IAW&A Salon is proud and honored that Lissa chose to launch her collection of poetry with us.
Having shared his beautiful NY Daily News and Irish Times essays earlier in the year, Sean Carlson returned to the Salon to read from the final manuscript of his first book — a nonfictional narrative of emigration through a family story from Ireland to London and the Bronx. Tonight he transported us to a farmhouse at the bottom of a lane outside a small village in Co. Kerry. We could almost feel the warmth of the turf fire burning in the hearth as the story begins. Sean will continue reading from his to-be-titled book at our IAW&A Salons over the coming months. Learn more and join his email list here: www.seancarlson.net
At a May Salon, Mary Pat Kelly debuted songs from her musical Special Intentions, based on her novel of the same name, the story of her six years in the convent in the 1960s. Mary Pat has written the book, lyrics and music. Tonight she was able to present another song thanks to the wonderful musical theater actress Maura Knowles and the great pianist, Sean Irawan. We look forward to more from these talented collaborators.
Barry Sacker, John Cappelletti
Actor, director, playwright and teacher John Cappelletti presented his short play, We the People, which was first performed at the Hudson Guild Theatre last year. The drama featured acting pro Barry Sacker in the leading role of Brock who convinces Francis, a team member played by John, not to leave an organization that is planning a most unusual event to eliminate gun violence in America. John is glad to have opportunity to showcase his work.
Chris Bradley, Mary Pat Kelly
Chris Bradley shared a portion of a contemporaneous historical fiction that he is researching and writing about the plight of homeless Veterans. Each night in this country, 60,000 Veterans sleep in shelters or on the streets. Chris is conducting in-depth interviews with a cross-section of these men and women who live in NYC. Chris will fictionalize and weave the stories together into an entertaining, educational novel. He plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from the book’s sales to fight homelessness. He expects to complete the work in the next few months and welcomes inquiries about how you can help the men and women who volunteered to defend every one of us. Reach Chris at email@example.com.
An award-winning writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, Megan O’Donnell is also an actor, activist, and visual artist and new member of IAW&A. At Tuesday’s Salon, she read a selection of poems on numerous subjects, including motherhood, sexuality, writing, and self-harm as well as an emulation of one of her favorite poets, Emily Dickinson. Although Megan’s poetry is not available online, you can read some of her non-fiction at http://elitedaily.com/author/modonnell/.
Christy Jones, who read at the July Salon at the Bar Thalia, returned tonight with another piece of his memoir, Taxi to Broadway (tentative title). Tonight’s chapter was a vivid recollection of his childhood on a farm near the Dublin airport runway. Christy appreciates our encouraging reception to his work-in-progress. And we’d like to hear more of his journey from rural Ireland to pursue his love for theater and American musicals in NY and included time in the US National Guard; the Stella Adler Theatre Studio; Off Broadway, Regional Theatre and finally Broadway in the Brian Friel play Philadelphia, Here I Come!
John Kearns was happy to present a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress about four generations of an Irish American family, Worlds. The excerpt showed John’s knowledge of both Roman mythology (Ovid’s story of Mercury and Aglauros, set in 1950s West Philadelphia) and his skill in depicting teenage crushes. In his story, 7th-grader Janey Dougherty becomes infatuated with a high school boy she meets after the May Procession at St. Francis de Sales School. Janey is excited when the boy knocks on her front door only to find out that he is interested in seeing her more extroverted sister, Lisa.
Mark William Butler
Ever the good sport, Mark William Butler channeled his inner Sinatra to close the night with the Johnny Mercer classic, “Summer Wind.”
Please note next Salon will be on Wednesday, August 6 at 7pm at Bar Thalia.