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11th annual 1st Irish begins Jan. 9

George C. Heslin, the founder of the Origin Theatre Company and its annual 1st Irish Festival.

By Irish Echo Staff

The 2019 1st Irish Theatre Festival, which begins on Wednesday, Jan. 9, will include six mainstage productions – one of them a world premiere, the others U.S. premieres.

In all, the 11th annual festival, organized by the Origin Theatre Company, will have 17 events, with 15 contemporary Irish writers’ work represented.

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Those events will take place at the Cell Theatre, the American Irish Historical Society, Scandinavia House, the New York Irish Center, the Playroom, A.R.T. New York, the Irish Consulate, the Irish Arts Center and Glucksman Ireland House NYU.

Aoife Williamson stars in Derek Murphy’s new comedy, “Inside Danny’s Box.”

”Since its founding in 2007, the Festival has been recognized for its focused size, and emphasis on audience engagement through mainstage productions, parties, panels and workshops,” it said in a statement. “The Next Generation and Breaking Ground series have proven to be a launch-pad for new projects developed collaboratively by artists from different cities, that have gone on to further success and acclaim.”

In 2015, the New York Times called Origin’s 1st Irish “an important event that offers New York theatergoers the chance to see fascinating new work.”

Origin was founded 16 years ago by Limerick City native George C. Heslin with a particular “pan-European” mission.

The company “produces the American premieres of impactful plays by contemporary writers that reflect the diversity of viewpoints and cultural perspectives emanating from the EU’s 28 member countries.”

Since its founding, Origin has introduced works by 264 European playwrights to U.S. audiences

However, its 1st Irish Festival was so named because it was the first worldwide – and remains the only one – devoted exclusively to the work of playwrights who were born on the island of Ireland or have an Irish passport.

Honor Molloy is one of six playwrights exploring the theme of migration in the festival’s Breaking Ground Series.

Among the U.S. premieres is John Breen’s drama “Alone It Stands,” which revisits a famous episode from the pre-professional days of Irish rugby, the victory of the Munster provincial team over the visiting New Zealand side in 1978. The Irish Times has called Breen’s piece “one of the cleverest, funniest, most brilliantly crafted plays you are ever likely to see… a dramatic triumph!” It will run at 59E59 Theatres, 59 East 59th St., from Jan 10 through 27.

The Dublin-based Fishamble: The New Play Company makes its fifth appearance at Origin’s 1st Irish with Sebastian Barry’s “On Blueberry Hill.” The Jim Culleton-directed show, starring Niall Buggy and David Ganly as best of friends and worst of enemies – and which the Irish Independent called a “superb, devastating play” – will run at 59E59 Theatres, from Jan 8 through Feb 3.

At the Cell, 338 West 23rd St., from Jan. 20 to 27. Dublin’s Gúna Nua presents “The Morning After the Life Before” by Ann Blake, which delves into a sister and brother’s relationship before and after the referendum on marriage equality in Ireland.

Suicide among teens is the subject explored in Derry’s Sole Purpose Theatre Company production of Patricia Byrne’s “Blinkered” at the NY Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Ave., in Long Island City, from Jan. 21 to 26.

Also at the Cell – from Jan. 14-21, the New York-based Fat Violet Theater presents “The Smuggler,” by Galway-born Ronan Noone. The comedy features Mick Mellamphy, who has won two 1st Irish Best Actor Awards at festivals in recent years.

Derek Murphy’s latest gets its world premiere at Origin’s 11th Annual 1st Irish Theatre Festival.

And the world premiere is Derek Murphy’s new comedy, “Inside Danny’s Box,” with Maria Deasy and Aoife Williamson as two lovelorn pyromaniacs who want to set the world on fire. It will run at the Cell from Jan 14 to 27.

This year’s Breaking Ground Series will showcase six New York-based Irish writers’ responses to the theme of migration. The playwrights are Brona Crehan, Michael Fitzpatrick, Rosemary Jenkinson, Honor Molloy, Sarah Street and Sadhbh Walsh.

“It’s very important that we create work here,” Heslin said in an interview with the Echo earlier this year, “that we just don’t become receiving houses for work from Ireland. That’s what different about Origin: we commission writers, we make work, we make new voices.”

For tickets and the full festival schedule, including the special events, visit the website here.