Three theatre companies supported by the Arts Council are to participate in this year’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival in New York in September. Fishamble (Dublin), Tall Tales (Navan) and Cirque de Légume (Sligo) are all participating in the month-long festival which runs from 5 September to 3 October 2011 in theatres across New York.
Coordinated by the New York-based Origin Theatre Company, the festival features plays by 16 contemporary Irish playwrights spanning a range of theatrical genres and styles, with the collaboration of 18 theatres and arts organisations from the USA and abroad.
The Arts Council has long standing funding relationships with both Fishamble and Tall Tales Theatre companies. Cirque de Légume was first developed through Project Brand New - an initiative which also received support from the Arts Council.
Fishamble with Noah and the Tower Flower by Sean McLoughlin will perform at 78th Street Theatre Lab/the Drilling Company from 7 September to 2 October; Tall Tales with Bogboy by Deirdre Kinahan will perform at the Irish Arts Center from 7 to 25 September; Cirque de Légume will perform at 59E59 Theaters from 6 September to 2 October.
In addition, Brassneck Theatre Company from West Belfast will perform A Night with George at the Times Square Arts Center, from 5 September to 2 October. These four American premieres from Ireland are part of Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year of Irish arts in America.
Wishing the participants well before their departure to New York, Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said: "The arts are one of our most valuable cultural exports and I am very pleased to have this opportunity to encourage and support 1st Irish. It is positive that artistic productions are available to audiences in Ireland and abroad because of a long-term investment by the Arts Council. Irish people have a deeply embedded and distinctive tradition of story-telling and included in this year's 1st Irish programme for American audiences are some of Ireland's finest writers, directors and performers. I am particularly pleased to offer my support to the festival in the year of Imagine Ireland, a special initiative of my Department and Culture Ireland, which will see over 1,200 artists present work in the US during 2011. I wish Artistic Director George Heslin and all the participants every success - particularly the cast, writers, directors and production crews from Fishamble, Tall Tales, Cirque de Légume and also Brassneck Theatre Company, Belfast."
Pat Moylan, Chairman of the Arts Council said: "It is wonderful to see Irish playwrights continue to make their mark on the international stage with these exciting American premieres. Ist Irish is a great New York initiative. This timely and excellent showcase of Irish creativity - which in turn can help enhance Ireland's reputation abroad - highlights some of the best contemporary Irish theatre."
George Heslin, Artistic Director, 1st Irish said: "Origin Theatre Company is thrilled to welcome, for the fourth year, theatre companies from Ireland to 1st Irish, New York's annual festival of Irish theatre. When we began the journey of the festival we never anticipated that in four short years we would present work by 62 Irish playwrights with the support of 57 organisations on both sides of the Atlantic. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors and supporters."
Funding for 1st Irish 2011 is provided by a number of organisations both in Ireland and abroad including the Irish Government, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon; Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year of Irish arts in America; Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Tourism Ireland; Northern Ireland Bureau; Mutual of America and the American Ireland Fund.