By Karen Daly
Photos by Tom Mahon
The Valentine’s Day spirit may have still been in the air at the IAW&A Salon at The Cell, where we had fictional and dramatic pieces that dealt with matters of love and sex. We also had reflections on growing up in New York Irish neighborhoods; trad music; great storytelling; a stirring new song; and the debut of an assured new talent.
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Playwright Sheila Walsh and Tom Mahon performed Sheila’s play-in-progress, When Love Comes Tumbling Down, in which a daughter’s wedding announcement exposes the regrets and longings in her parents’ long marriage. Done with wit, drama and soundtrack!
First time presenter Judith Glynn read a powerful personal essay, “My Father’s Forgotten Grave” that described her search for a grave never visited. She revealed that alcoholism overtook her father, resulting in neglect and a poverty-stricken childhood. Only in Judith’s later years as a fulfilled and successful woman does she want to thank her father for her life and absolve him graveside for his unintended abandonment. See Judith’s travel articles and books at www.judithglynn.com.
Journalist and playwright, (his Stoopdreamer played at The Cell to great acclaim), Pat Fenton brought us back with him to 1950s Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn with “Still the Same.” After being part of a teenage gang war, Pat concludes that he was influenced more by the innocence of the neighborhood than the violence.
Actor Rosina Fernhoff chose a monologue from Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine, a play about gender confusion and change and matters pertaining to sex and time. She delivered a witty and sly portrayal of a young woman’s sexual discovery.
On Thursday, 3/3, Rosina will be in The Piano Teacher at St. Malachy, the Actors Chapel at 239 West 49th Street between Broadway and 8th Ave. It’s at 7:30pm, and it’s free.
Sex was also the subject, or perhaps the non-subject of Kathleen O’Sullivan’s chapter from her memoir Isham Street, because she learned that her family would do anything to avoid the topic. When her inquiry about where babies came from was met with misinformation, the child spent her time wondering what life would be like if another family had bought her at the hospital first. After much analysis – and charming drawings – she was relieved that the O’Sullivan’s got to the hospital first and bought her. Kathleen presented the chapter as an iMovie video with illustrations and voice-over narration.
Trad music star/expert Don Meade performed several tunes. On octave harmonica, he played “The Road to the Isles” and “The Galop” both from Tom Doherty, a Donegal melodeon player and regular at the Eagle Tavern in the 1980s. Don sang “You Rambling Boys of Pleasure,” from Co. Antrim singer Robert Cinnamond. He ended with a slow air “An Binsin Luachra” and reel, “The Volunteer” on a chromatic harmonica, in memory of Sandy Boyer. Follow Don at www.blarneystar.com and join his sessions at the Landmark Tavern on Monday nights.
Do you remember Grandpa Al Lewis from The Munsters? John McDonagh revealed that Lewis was an Irish Republican and he talked about their time together as WBAI radio hosts. In another funny bit, John also showed a video clip of himself calling in from his Yellow cab to legendary radio host Bob Fass about what was happening in the city in the wee small hours. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hnTTutCH0
In Tom Mahon’s story “First Date,” a future power couple have already fallen in love via Skype, but have been too busy to meet until tonight. They’re both very tall, and played basketball in college and work in New York. The woman arrives late, and takes four phone calls, until finally the man leaves the table. When he returns, he asks her to marry him. Lest you think this is a happy ending, Tom has a new version in which the man doesn’t return.
In Maureen Hossbacher’s piece, “Telling Stories,” a young girl at her father’s wake recalls his flair for storytelling, especially his tales of ghosts and banshees and other typically Irish malarky that makes light of death. The tale was enhanced by Maureen’s lilting reading.
Seamus Scanlon read a flash fiction piece called “The Kray Twins” about the famous criminals.
On Wednesday, 3/2 at 6:00 pm, Seamus’ one act play “The Long Wet Grass“ will be at the Center for Worker Education (City College) 25 Broadway (1 train to Rector, 4/5 to Bowling Green). Free and open to the public. ID needed.
Salon producer and the night’s host John Kearns was thrilled to hear Rosina Fernhoff bring to life his latest excerpt from his novel in progress Worlds. In the excerpt, Logan family patriarch, James, stands at the stern of a Hudson-River ferry, reflecting about the new phase of his life that is about to begin. As he embarks upon his move from 1880s New York to Philadelphia, he looks back at the city that has been his first home in the New World and forward to the city his friend has recommended.
On Wednesday, Mar 3/2 at 6:30 pm John will be giving a talkback on Sean O’Casey and his times after a reading of “A Pound On Demand” and “Bedtime Story” at the Mid-Manhattan Library.
Guenevere Donohue gifted us with two folk songs to close out the evening. She debuted a brand new composition created in celebration of the Easter Rising, “The Spirit Rises.” Two lines from the chorus of this tribute:
And if the children remember
The spirit will stay
Then, with a dedication to Sandy Boyer, Guen sang Brendan Behan’s “The Old Triangle” with us joining on the chorus.
Don’t forget our March date at Bar Thalia, on Thursday, March 3rd.