North America Acts Irish
By Olivia O’Mahony, Editorial Assistant
June / July 2017
Community theater groups from throughout the United States and Canada converged at the Geva Theater Center in Rochester, New York for the 24th Annual Acting Irish International Theater Festival in April. The adjudicated festival, founded in 1993, consisted this year of seven full-length productions presented over five days, all of which were attended by Oleans-based theater adjudicator and former president of the Theater Association of New York State Paul Nelson, who reviewed each play and its links to the traditions of Irish drama.
As the host organization, the Irish Players of Rochester drama group opened the festival with a production of Brian Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come!, which centers around the principal character’s upcoming migration to the U.S. from the fictional town of Ballybeg, County Donegal. The winners of the 2016 Milwaukee event’s “Best Production” category, the Liffey Players Drama Society of Calgary, brought the series of performances to a close with Conor McPherson’s The Weir, a story of the supernatural set in a rural Irish pub.
The Irish Heritage Center of Cincinnati swept up five of the six festival awards for 2017 with their performance of John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar, a romance concerning two farmers in Ireland’s midlands. As the official winners of “Best Production” for this year, the group are next in line the 2018 festival in Ohio. ♦