How It’s New York:    New York is full of Awards Ceremonies that turn into parties, from the Tony Awards to the Obies, there are many theatre awards.  1st Irish gives out its own, which is also a nice way to bring everyone together again at the end.
How It’s Irish:  Because they are the awards for the 1st Irish Festival, the companies and their pals will be in attendance.  Unlike the Tony Awards, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg– and you can still cast your vote for best play (after all the plays are still running this weekend, and the Mint’s Temporal Powers runs through October 9!)

The ceremony is at Papillon Bistro & Bar, 22 E. 54th Street.
The jury included Jacqueline Davis, the executive director of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; Playbill’s Harry Haun; film and theatre critic and historian Bernard Carragher; the Irish theatre columnist Kate Kennon, and Sean Noonan, an executive at Mutual of America, where he serves as liaison to New York’s professional theatre. The Awards Ceremony is coordinated by Ciaran Grant.

Awards will be given in 6 categories.

 Drumroll Please…

Best Actress

The Nominees:   Ruth Maleczech (“Lucia’s Chapters”); Sorcha Fox (“Bogboy”); Donna O’Connor (“A Night With George”).

Will Win:  Sorcha Fox
Should Win:  Ruth Malaczech

While I thought Sorcha did a fantastic job, and I loved the play ( my review of Bogboy here), what Ruth Malaczech does is nothing short of phenomenal.   The play is an odd mix, for me, more a kind of theatrical installation or meditation on  James Joyce’s daughter Lucia, who spent much of her life in institutions.  But Ruth’s use of her voice and body to present different ages, her absolute conviction and skill, are powerful. It was a remarkable performance, and, for me, demonstrates why Mabou Mines (who also produced the absolutely enthralling Peter and Wendy) are still one of New York’s and the country’s most vital avant-garde theatre troupes.

Best Actor 

The Nominees: Steve Blount (“Bogboy”), Aidan Redmond (“Temporal Powers”); Darren Healy (“Noah and the Tower Flower”).

Will Win:  Darren Healy
Should Win:  Darren Healy

This is a tough one, because I really really liked Temporal Powers, and I loved the show (read our review here)I thought Aidan did a marvelous job of bringing a taciturn and quietly noble man to life.  And in some ways, what Darren had to do with Noah was easier, though I also really enjoyed the play (review of Noah here!) I don’t think it’s doing anything as broad and still incisive as what Teresa Deevy did .  However, Darren’s performance was original,  unforgettable.   I won’t soon forget his sudden leap into ferocity, nor his awkward, Art Carney-like gangliness. 

Best Director 

The Nominees:  Jo Mangan (“Bogboy”); Jim Culleton (“Noah and the Tower Flower”); Jonathan Bank (“Temporal Powers”).

Will Win:  Jo Mangan
Should Win:  Jim Culleton

Again, a tough one, because of all of these I think  Jonathan Bank’s task was the most difficult and the most worthwhile.  I suspect that Jo Mangan will win because the sheer look and feel of Bogboy is so gorgeous, with its video and isolations, and its precision with monologues.  However, as with my assessment above, I think Jim Culleton brought more out of this play than may even be there.  He got great comic timing from his cast; he kept things subtle yet powerful, so my vote would be to him in the end.

Best Design

The Nominees: “Temporal Powers;” “Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth by Day;” “Dublin by Lamplight.”

Sadly, I didn’t make it to Dublin by Lamplight, and won’t this weekend either, so this is an unfair prediction.  However, if I have to make one between the two, I’m going with Temporal Powers.  Yes, the design of Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth by Day is impressive, and I would guess will win.  But in all honesty, that kind of thing is what Mabou Mines does, and it would be startling if they didn’t do it.  It is part and parcel of the piece, but for me, it also overwhelmed it, which is why I felt at times as though I was in a theatrical art installation.

In contrast, Temporal Powers was beautiful and evocative, neither merely representative nor abstracted but a cross between natural and imaginative.  It had real brilliance and brought the play into 2011.  My vote would go to it.

Best Production

The Nominees:  “Temporal Powers;” “Bogboy;” “Noah and the Tower Flower.”
 It’s a bit confusing, but it seems this is different from the Audience Award for Best Play as all 8 productions are votable there!

Will Win:  Bogboy
Should Win:  Bogboy

Ouch.  This is a tough vote to make.  I loved all three plays.  And I think as a personal experience, Temporal Powers may be my favorite– it is chilling and  exciting, and I’d almost always rather see a play with a large cast interacting with one another than a more monologue-ish play.  But, the physical production o Bogboy matches its spooky, lonely story to a “t.”  The performances were pitch perfect.  Playwright Deirdre Kinahan told a simple story beautifully and theatrically, and the production, from her company Tall Tales in Navan, with Irish Arts Center, made it whole.

What did you think?  Who will you vote for?  Again click here to cast your vote, and you can still see plays this weekend!

1st Irish, powered by Origin Theatre Company (artistic director George Heslin), began on September 5.

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.