By Sean Devlin
Irish actress Sarah Street’s acting resume isn’t short on top-level performances on stage and screen.
Now Street and her group, the Pond Theatre Company, is seeking to bring work of playwrights from Ireland and the U.K. across the ocean for New York audiences to enjoy.
Street, and fellow actors Lily Dorment, Colleen Clinton and Nick Hetherington comprise the Pond Theatre Company, which will produce two to three plays annually. The aim to give some of context about the experiences of life in countries that Americans have connections to but sometimes know little about.
The first two plays to be staged will be Mike Leigh’s “Abigail’s Party,” starting a run on Saturday night, and “Muswell Hill” by Torben Betts. “Abigail’s Party” was originally conceived for the stage, but became famous as a BBC “Play for Today” broadcast in 1977.
The Pond Theatre Company will be working in conjunction with the Barrow Group, the acclaimed New York theater company and acting school.
Street looks at these productions as an opportunity to bring great works to audiences that might not otherwise get a chance to see them, and sees the Pond’s role as a way to corner a niche in their artistic market.
“When we all got together, we knew wanted to work on British and Irish plays. Lily, Colleen and I were taking a scene study class at the Barrow Group, and we were doing some scenes from ‘Abigail’s Party,’ and our teacher kept complimenting our performances and encouraged us to continue working on it. Eventually, we decided we really wanted to produce the play, and we asked if they wanted to co-produce ‘Abigail’s Party’ with us.”
Street preached to the cohesion of the group and to each member of the Pond’s skill set as to why the team works so well.
“Since we’ve formed, we’ve been working our tails off fundraising. We’re all actors and we all have different skill sets — Colleen has a graphic design background, Lily has a business background, and I think the fact that we’re not just creatively minded people makes putting on these works much easier to do,” she said.
The group’s efforts to bring works that are lesser known in the United States has not fallen on deaf ears. “Nick, Colleen and Lily took a trip to London a few weeks ago and met with some literary agents — and there’s definitely a gap. These plays are getting done and dying on the vine. We don’t want to see these great works just collecting dust on a shelf.”
Street is clearly looking forward to playing in Leigh’s “Abigail’s Party” with her teammates, thereby bringing the cult British hit to a new audience. The Cork actor’s New York career is already impressive, and she’s looking to further explore her creative outlets through the Pond Theater Company. She’s also looking to reach back to her Irish roots through the plays she selects.
“It’s really an exciting time for me as an actor and a writer, and it’s empowering to have this creative family. There’s a sense that we can decide what plays we want to do, that we can decide what playwrights we want to showcase. If you’d told me this time last year that this is something I’d be doing now, I don’t think I’d have believed you.
“Part of the reason we’re doing something like this is because we want the Irish community to hear from us. Next season, we’d like to do two Irish plays,” Street said. “We want to be able to be recognized by our community and bring them plays they recognize and enjoy, and expose them to new ones as well.”
“Abigail’s Party” through Dec. 3. Tickets are on sale. You can follow The Pond Theatre Group on Instagram at @thepondtheatrecompany. You can buy tickets at barrowgroup.org.