By Brendan Costello, Jr.
Photos by Donna Simone
The Irish American Writers & Artists Salon at the Cell on November 15th demonstrated once again how sharing our work fills the soul. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, falling a week after the election and a week before the holidays would be at our throats. The multi-talented Marni Rice was host for the evening.
Dublin-born playwright Derek Murphy presented a scene from his play “Stand Up Man,” originally produced a few years ago at the Baby Grand Opera House in Belfast. The scene starred Nick Hardin from the original Belfast production and the wonderful Mary Tierney.
Derek Murphy, left, with Mary Tierney and Nick Hardin
Next, we heard from a new presenter, Claire Fitzpatrick, a poet, fiction writer, and budding Sligo fiddler from New York City. She is an alum of Bowling Green State University’s MFA creative writing program, way back when she and her compadres decried Poppy Bush’s election as President of the United States. She now realizes that those were the good old days. Her poems deftly wove timely and timeless themes of social consciousness, at times poignant and at others humorous.
Newcomer Ian Javier shared a powerful dialogue between a young African-American man and his deceased father. This heartfelt and moving piece touched on current and past civil rights martyrs and their issues, and was originally created for IAW&A member Brendan Costello’s writing class at CCNY.
Rosina Fernhoff performed a monologue from The Road to Mecca by Athol Fugard. The play confronts the wrenching conflict between the artist who must create and the society which demands her to conform.
“the soul selects her own society–
Then– shuts the door–
On her divine majority –
Present no more–” – Emily Dickinson
Songwriter, artist, writer, music teacher at the Irish Arts Center and actor John Munnelly performed a trio of songs including the perhaps-unfortunately relevant “Hail Caesar.” He also sang a moving piece written about his mother who passed away last year, and a musical tribute to Leonard Cohen who passed away a few days before the Salon.
Poet Rosalie Calabrese is a native New Yorker, a management consultant for the arts and a writer of poetry, stories, and librettos for musicals. She is also a member of the PEN America Women’s Literary Workshop, and she shared several poems, including a few from her latest book, “Remembering Chris,” which is published by Poets Wear Prada.
Sarah Fearon, fresh off a fabulous NY Times profile by Corey Kilgannon, wasted no time trying out some new material. She worked out some ideas, from Artisanal Holiday pop up shops selling expensive gifts made from recycled materials to Pigeons protesting Trump, and other moments that beg us to wonder how close the apocalypse may be. Sarah will be performing at Gotham Comedy Club on TUES NOVEMBER 29 at 7 PM, please call and make a REZ! (http://gothamcomedyclub.com/)
Sarah Fearon, at an earlier salon, photo by Cat Dwyer
John McDonagh tried out some new material for his hilarious one‑man show Cabtivistwhich draws on his 35 years driving a yellow cab in NYC. Among the tales he related were taxi safety. John’s a writer, political activist and spoken word artist. More tales at www.cabtivist.com.
Gordon Gilbert read a series of poems: “Love and Loss,” “Thoughts of You Are Never Far,” “Always Shades of Blue” and “You.” They were something of a follow-up to the poem about a lost love that he read in the first November salon: “Remembering Loss.”
Actor, director, and playwright Thom Molyneaux is a frequent performer at our salons. The last time he performed here at the cell he did the first three monologues from a one man show he’s working on called “Me and the Monologue.” This time he read James Thurber’s “The Night the Bed Fell.”
Ray Lindie told a few stories from his days bartending at Elaine’s and on Long Island.
Playwright and actor D.J. Sharp presented a monologue in the voice of Tennessee Williams, speaking in an East Side hotel room about his life, his career, and what it means to be an artist.
Our host Marni Rice closed the night with her spirited rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Alleluia.”
Please join us for our next salon on Dec. 1st at Bar Thalia, and mark your calendars for our annual Holiday Salon on December 20th at the cell! To sign up to present at a future salon, go to http://bit.ly/IASalon.