by Gordon Gilbert
Photos by John Kearns and Mark Butler
For the second time, the IAW&A salon convened at our new home for first Tuesdays, St. Pat’s Bar & Grill, a pub on West 46th Street, in a private room on their 3rd floor (accessible both by elevator and stairs). From behind the bar, Claire, a convivial Irish lass, served us well. Several of those who attended can attest that the food there is also quite good! John Kearns was our host for an evening in which we were regaled with both personal and fictional stories, monologues, poetry, song and excerpts from a play.
The evening began with a reading by crime fiction writer Gary Cahill of an excerpt from his short story “On a Two-Way Street”, published in print and e- formats with Mystery Weekly Magazine’s February edition. It was a foretaste of the next salon (March 20th): Crime Night at The Cell, co-created by Gary and Seamus Scanlon, which will feature an array of readers and writers from IAW&A and Mystery Writers of America New York. Dark and stormy? Gary guarantees it!
Gary was followed by Maria Neuda. Although primarily a crime fiction writer, this evening Maria presented us with three short non-crime pieces. The first two were poems: “I Hate to See” (in two parts – “That Evening Sun” and “Go Down”) and “What is Honesty in This Case?” The third, a flash fiction piece: “Strangers on a Train.” Maria will be a participant in the upcoming “Crime Night”, and is also featuring on April 25th at a monthly spoken word event, “Rimes of the Ancient Mariner,” held at the Three of Cups in the East Village. Maria has had her crime fiction published on e-zine sites, Shotgun Honey, Yellow Mama, and Near2theKnuckle.
Thom Molyneaux and Annalisa Chamberlin
Next were Thom Molyneaux and Annalisa Chamberlin, who performed two excerpts from his play White Ash Falling 9/11, a play within a play about that horrific day. The first takes place backstage with Annalisa’s playing Gwen, a young actor who first learns of the tragedy while rehearsing The Seagull at Yale Drama. In the second, Annalisa played a waitress, Bonnie, witnessing the devastating tragedy live in a New Jersey restaurant with a spectacular view of the Twin Towers.
Then County Mayo native, Maura Mulligan, author of the memoir, Call of the Lark read an excerpt from her fiction writing in progress that features Madge O’ Malley. Madge has been chosen by a ghost to solve a murder, the said spirit making contact with her at an artist’s retreat in Donegal. Maura was delighted with the audience’s response. Maura invited everyone to join her at a ceremony on March 22nd at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where she is being honored as Irish Woman of the Year by the Irish American Heritage & Culture Committee of the Dept. of Education, NYC.
This event is free and open to the public. Anyone interested in attending, please contact Maura (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will send you the invitation. Also you may contact her if you have an interest in joining a weekly céilí dance class (Irish folk dance for adults) and or an Irish language class.
Maura Mulligan and Philomena Connors
Next came a regular attendee of the IAW&A Salons, Philomena Connors, who is currently working on a short story set in India in a dystopian future. Philomena read to us from the beginning of her new story. The protagonist, a UN field worker, takes the reader on a journey to a new reality where the world order has radically changed: dictatorships, caliphates, and democracies vie for global power; mainstream education no longer functions, international travel is restricted and the internet is inaccessible. Two Irish aid workers try to keep it all together while exploring their pasts and maybe falling in love. To be continued … !
The second half began with John McDonagh, who thanked the IAW&A for making possible his one-man play Off the Meter Off the Record at the Irish Repertory Theatre. He then went on to tell us his personal story about how, following the death in London of his cousin, Vinny, who had been born in that city, it came about that he was asked to bring his ashes back to County Donegal to be buried with his mother, John’s aunt.
John also asked if anyone knew of an agent who could promote his one-man show to HBO, Showtime or Netflix. He told us that in the neighborhood where he grew up in Queens, the only agents he ever knew were FBI agents. You may contact John at offthemeter.net.
Next we were entertained by IAW&A Salon regular and wonderful actor Rosina Fernhoff, who gave us a delightful reading of a monologue by Gordon Gilbert, in which she portrayed a rather merry widow who still talks quite regularly to her dead husband, and this time is telling him about the unique solution she has found to her need to feel the closeness of others.
Then to the amusement of the gathering, Gordon gave us a brief but rowdy reading of six limericks not his own.
That was followed by our host John Kearns, reading an excerpt from the title story of his collection, Dreams and Dull Realities, in which the sixth-grader Terrance is returning to school after having cut his Achilles tendon on March 17th. As he gets ready for school, he imagines how he will be a different, more extroverted kid with his classmates. He also recalls the teasing of his relatives and wonders if they somehow knew that he had brought bad luck upon himself by not wearing green on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Next Guenevere Donohue sang two songs of the Irish immigrant experience: “Ain’t I Mc Enough For Ya”, an original piece about Guen’s grandparents’ Amerikay arrivals, and “No Irish Need Apply”, a classic folk song which helps people understand one of the reasons why we Irish Americans hold fiercely to our Irish identity. Guenevere also wants us to know: “I’m in a cool play next week, and it’s super fun: Pieces of a Playwright II in Off-Off-Broadway at 124 Bank Street Theater 2018.”
Not done yet, the indefatigable, incomparable Rosina Fernhoff performed for us once again, this time a hilarious rendition of “And the Winner Is Me,” a monologue by playwright and movie buff Mark William Butler, in which he pays a satirical tribute to the Oscars. (Following the salon that night, they both then attended the “after-Oscars-party” ten feet away at St. Patrick’s 3rd floor bar.)
As he traditionally does, Eugene O’Neill Award recipient Malachy McCourt, one of the founders of IAW&A, concluded the salon by regaling us with choice witticisms and a reminder that we should be storytellers, not simply (and boringly) readers, when we perform what we have written, not seeking so much to edify as to entertain! Lastly, in case we had forgotten what he self-professes, that he cannot sing, Malachy led us all in song again, this time the anti-war classi: “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye.”
Join us next time, Tuesday, March 20th, 7 pm, at The Cell Theatre for the IAW&A Crime Salon!