IAC unveils fall-winter season

Maeve Higgins will host “One Night in Heaven."

Orla O’Sullivan


More laughs, more commissions and more collaborative ventures are coming from the Irish Arts Center over the next few months.

The newly released fall and winter line-up includes a monthly talk show by comedian Maeve Higgins, who made her New York debut at the IAC last year. Higgins’s show, “One Night in Heaven” (Oct. 20, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15) is in addition to the long-running monthly stand-up comedy show, “Sundays at Seven.”

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The two plays coming to the IAC this fall are in on the joke, in that both are comedies. And there’s a Cobh connection, too.

The Cork port town, from which many Irish immigrants set out before air travel, is home to both Higgins and Pat Kinevane, who returns to the IAC with another one-man show, “Underneath.”

Again, marginalized people take center stage in Kinevane’s writing. This time, it’s the darkly comic tale of a disfigured woman, speaking from her grave (and Cobh) in a work described by the Irish Times as “almost a masterpiece.” Kinevane last displayed his many talents at the IAC two years ago in “Silent.”

Pat Shortt, best known to many Irish audiences for his television comedies, was last here on Broadway for.

“The Cripple of Inishmaan” with Daniel Radcliffe. He will kick off the IAC’s 22-week season on Sept. 10 with a three-week run of “Selfie,” his one-man comedy. That runs at the Center's Hell's Kitchen location while other events are off-site. Meantime, Shortt is currently touring Australia, where “Selfie” is said to be selling out.

The off-site events are part of a major expansion plan announced by the IAC last year that is not limited to its physical premises on West 51st Street. The center aims to be more collaborative and multi-cultural, which it projects will double its audience by the end of next year.

The new philosophy is apparently embodied in the two works the IAC commissioned this season. One by Jean Butler of “Riverdance” fame has, unusually, choreographer and composer (cellist Neil Martin) on stage together. “This is an Irish Dance” runs at Danspace in New York in November and then goes on to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, next spring.

The other is a play commissioned by the IAC for the Dublin Theatre Festival—a first—that is not even slated to run in New York. However, it’s a fair bet thatChekhov’s Last Play” will make it over after the fall season considering that its producers brought the multi-award winning “Lippy” from Dublin to New York last year in association with the IAC.

Another Irish theatre group returning to the U.S. with the IAC is Landmark Productions. They co-staged the hit play, “Howie the Rookie,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last December.

The collaboration returns to Brooklyn this year, but on this occasion to St. Ann’s Warehouse, for a new opera composed by Donnacha Dennehy, written by Enda Walsh, and presented as part of the Prototype operatic theatre festival.

Musical and literary events also mark the calendar, including the family favorite “An Irish Christmas,” held annually at Symphony Space, and “Muldoon’s Picnic” the monthly evening event presided over by poet Paul Muldoon that is billed as an “omninum gatherum” of words and music. Expect work inspired by World War I from Declan O'Rourke and Myles Dungan.

On a lighter note, presumably, will be a daylong festival of children’s literature. The IAC says that the Rí Rá Children's Festival of Literature on Sunday, Oct. 4, will be a first.

The Atlantic PoetryFest, featuring poets for grown-ups from Ireland and the U.S., returns to the IAC this season, as does the Songlives singer-songwriter series.

Full details of the Irish Arts Center’s new season, running from Sept. to February, as well as tickets for these events, can be obtained at irishartscenter.org. Telesales from ovationtix, (866) 811-4111. The IAC is located at 553 West 51st St., New York, N.Y.