Audiences still tend to be slightly confused by the name of the 1st Irish Theatre Festival, which is understandable considering that its sponsor, the New York-based Origin Theatre Company, this year celebrated the festival’s fourth season.
The event, which refers to itself as the first and only festival in the world dedicated to Irish playwrights, (hence the “1st” and “Irish” in the name) ran for four weeks, starting on Sept. 5 and calling it a day on Oct.r 2, with an awards ceremony following on Oct. 3.
The show which chalked up the greatest number of nominations, four in all, was the Mint Theater Company’s “Temporal Powers.” The play, a little-known drama by Waterford-born playwright Teresa Deevy. The play, written in the early 930s, was recently unearthed by the Mint’s artistic chief, Jonathan Bank, who secured a personal nomination as the play’s director.
In addition to director Bank’s nomination, “Temporal Powers” racked up nominations in the Best Design and Best Production categories, plus a nod for Aidan Redmond, the show’s outstanding leading man, who scored as the late playwright’s conflicted hero, Michael Powers.
Other actors nominated in addition to Redmond were Steve Blount who starred as the reclusive farmer, Hughie Dolan, in Deirdre Kinahan’s eloquent “Bogboy” at the Irish Arts Center, and Darren Healy, who played the frenetic title character, Noah, in playwright Sean McLoughlin’s galvanic “Noah and the Tower Flower,” imported to the Drilling Company Theatre from the Dublin-based Fishamble Company.
Among actresses nominated included veteran performer Ruth Maleczech, who struck a new height as Lucia Joyce, James Joyce’s mentally troubled daughter, in Sharon Fogarty’s “Lucia’s Chapter of Coming Forth by Day.” Other actresses nominated included Sorcha Fox, who played Brigid, the recovering Dublin heroin addict of “Bogboy,” produced by Tall Tales Theatre Company, Navan, and Solstice Arts Centre in collaboration with the Irish Arts Centre. The final nominee in the Best Actress category was Donna O’Connor, co-author and star of the raucously funny one-performer show, “A Night With George,” a production of the Brassneck Theatre Company of West Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Nominated directors, in addition to Jonathan Bank, included Jo Mangan, who helmed “Bogboy” and Jim Culleton, who shaped the production of “Noah and the Tower Flower.”
Nominated in the Best Design category, along with “Temporal Powers,” were Mabou Mines’ “Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth by Day,” and “Dublin by Lamplight,” at 59E59 Theaters.
This year’s festival was structured around four productions from Ireland and four from America, with six American premieres and one New York premiere. Serving on the 1st Irish 2011 jury were Jacqueline Davis, executive director of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Playbill’s Harry Haun, film and theatre critic and historian Bernard Carragher, the Irish theatre columnist Kate Kennon, and Sean Noonan, an executive at Mutual of America, where he serves as liaison to New York’s professional theatre.