WITH TWO PHILADELPHIA PREMIERES, QUEER READING SERIES AND A POP-UP PLAY IN A PUB
Philadelphia, PA – Inis Nua Theatre Company presents their much-anticipated 19th Season featuring two mainstage Philadelphia premieres, a new Queer-focused reading series and the always-popular pop-up play in a pub (meat pie and a pint included). The new season kicks off with A Pop-Up Play in a Pub, featuring 10 Dates with Mad Mary by Irish playwright Yasmine Akram, at Fergie's Pub from October 26 to November 6, 2022, with no preview performances. Priyanka Shetty directs this fierce one-woman show that stars Anna Faye Lieberman. On the mainstage, Inis Nua presents Meet Me at Dawn from award-winning Scottish playwright Zinnie Harris, directed by Sam Tower. The show will run from February 15 to March 5, 2023, with opening night on Friday, February 17 at 7:00pm. Inis Nua will conclude the season with Hymn by acclaimed British playwright Lolita Chakrabarti, directed by Eric Carter. Hymn runs from April 12 to April 30, 2023, with opening night on Friday, April 14 at 7:00pm. Both mainstage shows will be held at The Louis Bluver Theatre at The Drake, at 302 S. Hicks Street. Inis Nua will also debut a free Queer Connections Reading Series with Love Song to Lavender Menace, by James Ley, directed by David Bardeen, on Monday, November 14, 2022; How to Keep an Alien by Sonya Kelly, directed by Charlotte Northeast, on Monday, March 13, 2023; and Offside by Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish, directed by Brett Ashley Robinson, on Monday, May 15, 2023. All readings will be held at The Proscenium Theatre at the Drake, at 302 S. Hicks Street. Individual tickets are on sale now for $30 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors. Subscriptions are on sale for $50 for both mainstage shows or $75 for all three shows. For more information, tickets and subscriptions, call (215) 454-9776 or visit inisnuatheatre.org.
Inis Nua Theatre Company has the unique mission to present contemporary plays from Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales for audiences from the Philadelphia region. Inis Nua mines the shared cultural histories of these countries for an American audience, introducing fresh new voices from abroad who tackle social, political, and interpersonal issues that we see reflected in our own country. For the new season, the unifying theme challenges audiences to ask and think about: what is the impact of life?
"While theatres reexamine themselves after the pandemic, we all individually need to do the same," said Interim Artistic Director Charlotte Northeast. “We all need to ask ourselves what matters to us the most, and think about how we treasure the time we have with our loved ones. Those sentiments are what went into selecting this year's season. The joy of re-emerging into the world hasn’t been easy and I wanted to find plays that shined a light on how we drill down to what’s really important. Each play in this year’s season revolves around examination of self, examination of what’s important and examination of what we need to change to bring it all together. Audiences can expect to leave an Inis Nua show this year with the invitation to look deep into themselves to see if their big picture is just what they want it to be.”
A POP-UP PLAY IN A PUB
Inis Nua’s 19th Season starts with A Pop-Up Play in a Pub, a popular event with regulars and new-comers alike. The experience is inspired by pop-up plays in pubs over the pond, and each patron enjoys a play, a pint of beer and a meat (or veggie!) pie in a unique setting.
For the grand return of this popular program, A Pop-Up Play in a Pub will feature 10 Dates with Mad Mary, a raucous one-woman show by Irish playwright Yasmine Akram, at Fergie's Pub (1214 Sansom St.) from October 26 to November 6, 2022. Priyanka Shetty directs this fierce solo performance that stars Anna Faye Lieberman as Mary.
Beer and food accompany what is always a good time at Center City's most popular Irish pubs. The show will run on Wednesdays and Thursdays, at 6:00pm, and Saturday and Sundays, at 2:00pm. All tickets come with a pint of cold draft beer, plus a meat or veggie pie from East Passyunk acclaimed Stargazy Pies. Please note: this venue requires the use of stairs.
Once known as the best fighter in her hometown of Drogheda, ‘Mad Mary’ has emerged from prison – older, wiser and needing a date to her best friend’s wedding. At times foul-mouthed and aggressively funny, Mary embarks on a journey to find a date – and perhaps herself.
Yasmine Akram is an Irish-Pakistani actor, writer and director. As a writer, she co-wrote and starred in two series of Irish Micks and Legends for BBC Radio 4 and #Godswork for BBC Radio 4 starring Rowan Atkinson. Her play, 10 Dates with Mad Mary was adapted for the screen in 2016 (and titled A Date for Mad Mary). Akram has numerous TV and film projects currently in development including a pilot based on her upbringing in Ireland called We, Khan for Sky, produced by Witchery. As an actress she has appeared in Sherlock (Hartswood/BBC), The Reluctant Landlord (What Larks!/CPL/Sky), Humans (Kudos/C4) and There She Goes (Merman/BBC) among others. Akram trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she now lives.
“I first read this play on a train and had to quiet myself from laughing so I wouldn’t disturb the other passengers,” said Northeast. “Mad Mary isn’t someone you necessarily want to hang out with, but once she starts talking you can’t look away. And she has a really deep core, despite some of the horrible things she says. Audiences can expect a hilarious, sometimes shocking night at the pub while also being surprised at just how much heart Mary really has. Coupled with drinks and good food, it’s a great way to welcome the colder nights of late fall."
MEET ME AT DAWN
Over on the mainstage at the Drake, Inis Nua will present Meet Me at Dawn from award-winning Scottish playwright Zinnie Harris, directed by Sam Tower. The show will run from February 15 to March 5, 2023, with opening night on Friday, February 17 at 7:00pm. Showtimes will be Wednesdays through Fridays, at 7:00pm, Saturdays at 8:00pm and Sundays at 2:00pm.
For Meet Me at Dawn, the script is a lyrical, haunting fable that examines the phenomenon of everyday love and what it truly means to stop time. The show originally premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2017.
Two women wash up on a distant shore following a violent boating accident. Dazed by their experience, they look for a path home. But they discover that this unfamiliar land is not what it seems - and that, though they may be together, they have never been further apart.
Zinnie Harris is a multi-award winning playwright, screenwriter and theatre director, with multiple awards to her name from her writing and directing work. Her screen writing includes two 90 minute dramas for Channel 4 (Richard Is My Boyfriend and Born with Two Mothers), and episodes for the BBC1 Drama Spooks. She was lead writer and Series Creator for the BBC1 Agatha Christie adaptation, Partners in Crime. As a theatre director she has directed numerous main stage productions for the RSC, the Traverse Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre, and the Tron theatre. She is an Associate Director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre and Professor of Playwriting and Screenwriting at the University of St Andrews.
“At first, the words on the page in Zinnie’s script jump around and you find yourself thinking you’ve figured this play out. But then you realize you haven’t. And when you figure out what’s really going on, how deep the love between these two women really goes, your breath stops for just a second. I can’t wait to see this come to life on stage,” said Northeast.
To close the season, Inis Nua will present Hymn from acclaimed British playwright Lolita Chakrabarti, directed by Eric Carter. This play with music runs from April 12 to April 30, 2023, with opening night on Friday, April 14 at 7:00pm.
Hymn brings two brothers together to question just how to be a good father, husband and son. With songs from their youth, Gil and Benny seek to understand the true meaning of courage.
Benny is a loner anchored by his wife and children. Gil longs to fulfill his potential. They form a deep bond but as cracks appear in their fragile lives they start to realize that true courage comes in different forms, while asking exactly what it takes to be a good father, brother or son.
Lolita Chakrabarti grew up in Birmingham, England. She trained at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She has also worked extensively on stage and screen. Chakrabarti is also a multi-award winning writer. Her play Red Velvet sold out two runs in London, transferred Off-Broadway and returned to Kenneth Branagh's inaugural season at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End.
In choosing this show, Northeast said, “The accidental uniting of two brothers and all that follows, especially at a time when masculinity and the roles of men above the age of 35 are evolving, compelled me to select this script. Compounded with issues of race and gender roles, this play is a perfect closer to a season that asks just what is important and how do we discover it.”
QUEEN CONNECTION READING SERIES
Inis Nua introduces the Queer Connections Reading Series, coordinated by Inis Nua Reading Series Coordinator and Producer Adrena Williams, over three Mondays during the season, at 7:00pm nightly. Each reading is free and open to the public. All readings will be held at The Proscenium Theatre at the Drake, at 302 S. Hicks Street.
For the new season's theme, Inis Nua will present staged readings of three stories exploring queer life spanning the past four decades, from the 1980’s to today.
"Each play showcases a unique perspective on queer life in Ireland and the United Kingdom, from the mourning of a beloved bookshop, to the pressure of the public eye, to romantic barriers across borders," said Williams. "As in past years, we are partnering with Villanova University to showcase the talent of their student dramaturgs.”
The first reading is from Scotland with Love Song to Lavender Menace by James Ley, directed by David Bardeen, on Monday, November 14, 2022, at 7:00pm. This story takes place in a bookshop, as audiences join two employees packing up the shop on the final night of operations.
“The employees take on a variety of characters and time periods as they re-enact the shop’s history, and its evolution into a community and safety for the local gay community," said Williams.
Next, Inis Nua heads to Ireland for Sonya Kelly’s How to Keep An Alien by Sonya Kelly, directed by Charlotte Northeast, on Monday, March 13, 2023 at 7:00pm. This charming autobiographical romantic comedy is about an Irish woman and her Australian paramour, separated by thousands of miles and mountains of paperwork. Originally performed by the playwright herself, this would-be ‘one-woman show’ is also supported by a long-suffering ‘stage manager’ who helps Sonya set the scene.”
Rounding out the series is Offside by Sabrina Mahfouz and Holly McNicks, directed by Brett Ashley Robinson, on Monday, May 15, 2023 at 7:00pm. This play from England slips into poetry and dream-like sequences to mimic the adrenaline rush of competitive sports, as two young rising star players wrestle with secrets they’d rather keep out of their increasingly invasive press coverage.
Williams is a freelance dramaturg and theatre maker based in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Adrena received a Master’s Degree in Theatre from Villanova University, and a degree in English Language and Literature from Temple University. Her recent regional production history includes collaborations with Hedgerow Theatre Co., Steel River Playhouse, Simpatico Theatre Project, Inis Nua Theatre Co., Drexel University, and Villanova University. Adrena currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival.
FAREWELL TO THE FOUNDER
Inis Nua’s 19th Season also comes with some changes. Founder and Artistic Director Tom Reing retired from Inis Nua at the end of last season.
“In 2019, I was in Edinburgh and noticed I was walking funny," explained Reing. "My doctor referred me to a neurologist. Tests were done through that fall and winter. In February 2020, I was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis. The doctor hoped it would take years to progress, but even with medicine and therapy, my condition has worsened. I have much pride in Inis Nua’s accomplishments, but I need to take care and focus on my health."
A nation-wide search, conducted by the Board, is underway and plans to announce a new Artistic Director are forthcoming. For now, Charlotte Northeast will serve as Interim Artistic Director. Reing said, "I want the company to continue and I am thankful to have Charlotte's leadership through the transition and start of the season."
“Inis Nua steps forward into the new season as founder and artistic director Tom Reing steps back," said Board Chair Anne Vogelmann. "However, the company still holds true to Tom's original idea to present exciting, fresh, and challenging new plays from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Inis Nua is proud to add this international facet to the Philadelphia theatre scene and excited to continue to explore the many voices of those countries.”
Vogelmann concluded, "Inis Nua is a vibrant spark in the community and the artists, staff, board and audiences thank and honor Tom for his work."
A party, held in June of 2022, honored Tom for his incredible career and contributions to the company and the Philadelphia theatre scene at large.
Stay tuned for additional information about the season and Inis Nua's new leadership.
ABOUT INIS NUA THEATRE COMPANY
Inis Nua’s mission is to produce contemporary, provocative plays from Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales which reflect those cultures’ new identities in today’s world. Inis Nua also seeks to cultivate and produce contemporary, provocative work from American playwrights who deal with the Irish-American, Welsh-American, Scottish-American and Anglo-American experiences. In its nineteen-year history, the company has been the recipient of 6 Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre including the prestigious June and Steve Wolfson Award for an Evolving Theatre Company (2014) and been nominated for an additional 28 Barrymore Awards.
To date, Inis Nua has produced one world premiere, twenty-five American premieres, and fifteen Philadelphia premieres, and had eleven playwrights visit during production of their shows. Inis Nua Theatre Company has been the recipient of grants from the William Penn Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, the Independence Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Charlotte Cushman Foundation, MKM Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Virginia Brown Martin Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, the Connelly Foundation, the Free 2 Be Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, and the Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme.