How It’s New York: Larry Kirwan, of Black 47, and a New Yorker from Wexford, wrote the book, and Stephen Foster, who wrote the music, lived here in NYC for awhile.
How It’s Irish: Larry is Irish, and this play is set in Five Points, which had a lot of Irish immigrants. This play is part of the 1st Irish Theatre Festival, too.
What is going on with Civil War era NYC lately? Now we have the hot new show Copper on television, from BBC America, which is set in Five Points in 1864. In 2010 we had Banished Children of Eve by Peter Quinn at Irish Repertory Theatre. And now, here comes Hard Times by Larry Kirwan and Stephen Foster (yes! a collaboration separated by 100 years!). Here’s Charles C. Hale, who coordinates the Irish American Writers and Artists salons, on Larry’s upcoming play.
In July 1863 the Civil War was raging and there was major discontent in New York City over the recently enacted Draft, particularly among the Irish immigrant population. This discontent boiled over and forever changed the city, particularly the Five Points area where up until then African-Americans and Irish cohabited peacefully.
In the midst of the riots, American composer Stephen Foster would find the courage to write some of his most heartfelt and personal songs before his penniless death six months later. Hard Times is a soulful musical of clashing Irish and Afro-American cultures, written by my friend and fellow Irish American Writers and Artist’s director Larry Kirwan, also the lead singer of the band Black 47.
Through a re-imagining of Stephen Foster’s songs, Larry conjures the creation of tap dance and explores the troubled life of the “father of American Music” against the backdrop of New York City’s Civil War draft riots.
HARD TIMES also includes the Black 47 standard, Five Points. Nelly Blythe’s saloon and dancehall – the scene of the play’s action – was located in the Five Points, New York’s infamous, seething, anything-goes, downtown slum.
September 13 thru 30 at the cell 338 W. 23rd St., NYC
For Tickets: HARD TIMES
Use “Black47” as a password for a $3 discount
Intimate space – BOOK NOW!
Copyright 2012 New York Irish Arts