By Karen Daly
Photos by Mark William Butler
The 2019 IAW&A Salon year got off to a great start with a full slate of drama, humor, poetry and music at the Thalia Studio at Symphony Space, hosted by Salon producer John Kearns.
Opening the Salon with fresh next-gen talent, singer/songwriter Ian McCourt showcased his unique gifts by singing several original songs composed on the ukulele. They included “Burn You” and “Grape Gum.”
Dublin actress and playwright (Eternal Youth), Niamh Ryan returned to IAW&A to do a powerful monologue from the new play from John Kearns, Boann and the Well of Wisdom. In the scene, Boann confesses the temptation to defy her father and disobey the commands she has heard throughout her life. Imagining lifting the lid from the forbidden well, Boann talks herself into doing so, yet, remains rooted to her spot.
The night had two other dramatic monologues. Thom Molyneaux’s love for theater history informs his play Artie, Gadge, HUAC (and marilyn monroe). Playwright Arthur Miller and director Elia Kazan, sons of immigrants, helped create the modern American theater. Tom channels Kazan describing the creative processes of his first two films, and shows Miller discovering the power of writing his first play and describing Tennessee Williams’s influence on Death of A Salesman.
Speaking of Williams, Rosina Fernhoff turned in another stunning performance with a piece from The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. The character is a rich, dying woman dictating her life story to her secretary. She particularly wants the world to know about her last and only real love, her fourth husband Alex.
A couple of performances treated contemporary life in humorous ways. IAW&A Board Member Sarah Fearon read the beginning of her solo play 2B. The action takes place in a New York City co-op lobby where a real estate agent is trying to cajole keys to an apartment from Jimmy, the Doorman. Sarah’s character puts the “real” in real estate. The show will run for 3 weeks in April/May at the Players Theater on MacDougal Street where Sarah has a residency. Stay tuned for more details. Please visit Sarah’s website for more info.
Guenevere Donahue and Paula Nance
Mary Lannon’s first play Auld Lang Syne, a comedy of manners about the on-line dating world circa 2010, featured Paula Nance and Guenevere Donahue discussing their prospects, with Mark Butler reading stage directions. Mary was very happy with the work’s reception on its first reading, so we can expect to see more of their continuing adventures.
Gordon Gilbert, Jr
Also continuing his adventures, frequent Salon contributor Gordon Gilbert, Jr gave us Part Two of his BBA Chronicles, a funny, fictional saga of one man’s ongoing fight to free his apartment of unwanted guests.
We heard serious and poignant work in poetry and memoir.
Natalie Rogers delivered three original poems, including “Talking To the Ghost of My Husband” and “A Meditation on Poof and It’s Gone.” Natalie says the latter is “about the tragedy of greed when people are starving.”
Marcia B. Loughran
Poet Marcia B. Loughran (Her chapbook Still Life With Weather is available on Amazon) says her essay-in-progress, “Pub Crawl,” started out as a “very bad ballad but is becoming something else entirely with the generous assistance of the IAW&A Salon audience.” In “Pub Crawl,” she returns to the old neighborhood in Queens to look for familiar faces.
Alan Gary’s autobiographical essays touched on some lessons he learned as an adolescent and on poignant memories of a late, lost love named Emma, and a tribute to his mother’s influence on his life.
Bernadette Cullen’s elegant poems included “The Birds Have Stopped Singing” and “The Trees Left Years Ago.” Her Christmas poem “That Night There Was An Angel” has special relevance to immigrants at the border with no place to go.
Musician/songwriter Bert Lee sang two songs inspired by the story of his grandfather who came from Ireland at age 12. “The Money Isn’t Real,” and prospector dreams of settling down in “A Big White House.” His particularly sweet song, “New Again” was dedicated to his wife. Bert runs an open mic at Cowgirl, 255 W. 10th St. The next one is January 28, with sign-up at 6:00 pm and music ‘till 11:00 pm. For more on Bert.
John McDonagh has a gift for storytelling, whether funny or chillingly true, as he was tonight. Back in the 90’s, John edited The Irish People newspaper when an IRA man joined it. Years later, John saw a TV clip of the man admitting to having been a British agent and apologizing to his former colleagues. The man retired to a quiet life in the country, but that ended badly.
That other great storyteller, Malachy McCourt brought a full night to a close with his praise of tonight’s presentations. He also read select passages from the Steele Dossier, with editorial comments, proving he can captivate with any material. And he concluded with the anti-war song “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.”