Origin Theatre Company has appointed the actor and producer Michael Mellamphy to serve as its new artistic director, replacing Origin’s founder George C. Heslin, who became the new executive director of the New York Irish Center in October last year.
Mellamphy, who co-curated with fellow actor and Cork City native Sarah Street the 13th annual Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival in January, takes over the artistic leadership of the New York-based company, now in its 18th consecutive season.
The board said that the new artistic director has been given a “strong mandate from the board to continue to develop Origin’s unique mix of shows and events that introduce consequential contemporary voices from Europe to New York audiences.
“Mellamphy’s first moves will be to produce three events and productions taking place in May and June which are familiar components of Origin’s seasonal programming, but which will bear his unique stamp as a New York-based actor, theatre producer, and business owner.
“Having worked with the Origin team on an all-virtual 1st Irish Festival, which far-exceeded expectations and reached a significantly wider audience than past festivals, I am confident we can produce powerful theatre under these very unique and changing pandemic circumstances,” Mellamphy reports.
Starting May 9, Origin will produce a scaled-down version the 3rd annual European Month of Culture in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to the United States; on Sunday, June 13, the live-and-virtual version of Origin’s immersive Bloomsday Breakfast celebration will be produced with Blooms Tavern (the 7thannual edition did take place last year in a virtual format); and later in June a thoughtful and highly relevant new play from the Netherlands about racial profiling, “A Kid Like Rishi” — that was scheduled to premiere last fall -- will be brought to life for its American premiere as radio play production cast and produced in New York.
Mellamphy is a busy New York actor who is a member of the Irish Repertory Theatre and a founder of the Pigeon Theatre Company. Before being co-curator he had become a familiar 1st Irish presence, winning two Best Actor awards in previous years. In addition to making numerous television appearances over the years he is also the performance capture artist of the cheeky Irish gunslinger Sean MacGuire from Rockstar’s hugely popular video game “Red Dead Redemption 2.”
“Using technology in theatre production is at the forefront of my thinking now,” says Mellamphy. “Covid 19 has thrown many challenges at our community and many of us, including Origin, have responded creatively. I feel strongly we must get back to in-person productions but in the meantime we can use everything we’ve learned over the last 12 months plus to create new paradigms, mix live and recorded elements, even mix formats like social media with live theatre.”