By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer
The late December Salon at the Cell has quickly become a holiday tradition for members and guests who know there will be an extraordinary array of talent and heart as well as abundant IAW&A-style Christmas cheer. Curated and co-hosted by Honor Molloy and John Kearns, the program began with Marni Rice performing a haunting original accordion composition.
Playwright, actor and expert on mystery writing, Joseph Goodrich then showed his tender side with the story “The New Boy,” a reminiscence of Christmas in a small Minnesota town, circa 1970. Funny and poignant, Joe’s tale prompted smiles and tears.
Kevin Holohan brought to life Lar Lawrence and Con Conway, two electricians escaped from his novel The Brothers’ Lot. Quintessential Dubliners, Lar is the straight man and Con, the one convinced that not only is the glass half empty but its contents will probably give you cholera, dysentery, Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever, maybe all together. Con’s twisted view of Christmas was a hilarious downward spiral of misanthropic naysaying, defeat and begrudgery.
More of Kevin and the book at:http://www.akashicbooks.com/catalog/the-brothers-lot/ New video on http://youtu.be/pQ_bkzGIDNo
If you’re thinking of attending Art Basel Miami, the global art world’s invasion of South Beach during the first week of December, you may want to read Kira Citron’s essay about her visit, “Nowhere Else Do Naked Emperors Have Such Fabulous Clothes.”
Author Seamus Scanlon read a flash fiction piece, which he says, is more suited to Easter than Christmas. You can read the chilling “The Resurrection Love Song” “in its entirety at http://www.akashicbooks.com/the-resurrection-love-song-by-seamus-scanlon/. You can also see a promotional video for his play “The McGowan Trilogy” at https://youtu.be/pLbRvXZrpQY
Singer/writer/actor Maeve Price told the story of her recent singing engagement in a local cemetery. Despite flying sheet music, a hole in her Civil War era dress, a chat with Frederick Douglass and a cameo appearance by a local raccoon, Maeve lived to tell the tale with a little singing and a dash of graveyard humor. In February, Maeve will appear in the play “The Donahue Sisters” by Geraldine Aron. She’ll supply the details as available
Brendan Costello Jr.
IAW&A board member Brendan Costello Jr. read an excerpt of his novel-in-progress Winning. The scene features a middle aged CEO sitting alone in his fancy office, where he is visited by the ghost of his recently deceased father. Brendan chose this scene for its shades of a famous encounter, from that seasonal classic by Charles Dickens.
Honor Molloy closed the first half of the evening with her wonderful “Sixpence the Stars” (a/ka “The Little Oranges”) from her novel Smarty Girl. This comical re-telling of the Nativity story is a Salon holiday favorite. You can see it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1y1jAmgRCE.
Mark Butler and Honor Molloy poetically passing the hat
Mark William Butler
Speaking of holiday favorites, IAW&A Board member, playwright and composer Mark William Butler confessed to his obsession with writing Christmas musicals, especially Bad Christmas Sweater.
Classically trained actor and soprano Eilin O’Dea stopped by to present a segment from James Joyce’s “The Dead” from her portrayal of Joyce’s Women. http://eilinodea.com
Marni Rice performed two of her own compositions for accordion, “Complainte de la Femme Toute Seule,” featured in Robert Haufrecht’s film Subterranean Love which premiered at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. Her other selection was from the score to Magdala: Stories from the Net and the Sea about the life of Mary Magdalene. This collaboration by The Xio Evans Marni Rice Experimental Dance Theatre will play at the Wow Café Theatre on East 4th Street on April 8th and 9th. For details and tickets, please visit http://www.dejouxmusique.com
Salon producer (for three years!) John Kearns chose a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds. Set at Christmastime in the early days of legalized gambling, the Logans visit Atlantic City for a weekend getaway, which the wife hopes will be a romantic one. However, the husband stays out playing the slot machines and drinking with his friend and falls asleep as soon as he returns to the hotel room.
On behalf of the IAW&A Board of Directors, John also presented Cat Dwyer with a B&H Photo gift card to thank her for her 4 1/2 years of taking salon photos.
Sarah Fearon and Jon Gordon
In their holiday duet tradition, Sarah Fearon brought her deadpan holiday wishes, a spin on the Year in Review set to the jazzy tune of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” performed by Jon Gordon on sax. Then Jon gave us a sax solo rendition of the Vince Guaraldi song, “Christmas Time is Here” from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Our chieftain, IAW&A president, Larry Kirwan paid special thanks to the Board, the volunteers, and the members for their contributions to a successful year, which in addition to regularly scheduled Salons and road Salons, featured two outstanding special nights, The Amazing Library Variety Show fundraiser and the 100th Salon Celebration.
Larry sang Ewan MacColl’s “Ballad of the Carpenter” which begins:
Jesus was a working man
And a hero you will hear
Born in the town of Bethlehem
At the turning of the year
Kathleen Donohoe read an excerpt of a short story titled “Kringle,” about Cait, wife of Kristopher, a native of Ireland who is lonely in the North and in her marriage. We are excited to note that Kathleen’s debut novel, Ashes of Fiery Weather, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in August 2016.
Irish tenor Karl Scully didn’t come with a Christmas song tonight; he came with a sad love song entitled,“Knocknashee,” but we’re grateful whenever Karl can join us.
In closing, we had a rousing Gospel according to Malachy McCourt, who calls himself God’s atheist advisor.
Thanks to Honor and John and Cat and all the presenters for creating another smash Holiday Salon.
No room in the inn, but a little on the stairs
Here is the schedule for 2016 salons: http://i-am-wa.org/salons/
We look forward to those and to the road salons planned for Long Island, upstate Pennsylvania, Saint Louis, Washington, DC, Belfast (online) and other points unknown …
Merry Christmas and see you in 2016!