by Bernadette Cullen
Photos by Cat Dwyer
A large and supportive crowd turned out for the July 21st IAW&A Salon at the Cell that featured presentations in several media: prose, drama, poetry, video, dance, and music!
A great and supportive summer audience
The evening began with Sean Carlson, an IAW&A board member and writer. At prrevious Salons, Sean Carlson has shared early glimpses from his first book, a yet-untitled narrative of emigration through a family story from Ireland to London and the Bronx. Tonight, he showed another side of his writing with an essay about the East Village from a series he’s writing about New York.
Ray Lindie ‘played’ several characters as he read from his screenplay, Mad Dogs of August. In the first ten pages, through brilliant role playing, Lindie introduced his audience to eight characters (four of whom are principal characters). The story takes place in 1985 when the IRA’s principal charity arm NORAID has been categorized as a terrorist organization, and, therefore, has lost most, if not all, of its American financial support. As a result, the lead character, Thomas (Bullets) Brennan, a Northern-Ireland-born NYC Narcotics Detective, jumps into the fray and saves the day.
Ryan Winter Cahill
Actress Ryan Winter Cahill gave a lovely dramatic reading of Tom Mahon’s “That That Keeps Us Alive”. The short narrative is from the viewpoint of a young woman who is forced by war from her home in the Middle East, which action forces her to leave behind the man she loves. In light of today’s tragic situation in the Middle East, the narrative powerfully held up a mirror to the personal cost of the on-going conflict in this region of the world.
Newcomer Kathleen O’Sullivan presented two videos of the neighborhood she grew up in, i.e., upper Manhattan, on Isham Street in Inwood. Having the story in ibook and audio book form already, Kathleen is experimenting with translating the story into video form. In the chapter that was presented, the audience was given a tour of the neighborhood, an introduction to the mother, anintroduction to the theme of the new world vs. the old country, and an introduction to the religious theme. The longer video was organized around getting and eating baloney sandwiches, a sensuous experience that invited the audience into the story to enjoy the full meal to follow. With delightful, hand-drawn illustrations and a voice-over narration, the videos were a lovely evocation of a ‘once-upon-a-time’ still-not-forgotten memory.
Brendan Costello, a creative writing professor at City College, read a short piece/memoir about the day his father told him that he was gay. The fact that the young Brendan, then 16, already suspected his father’s sexuality, added a poignancy to the moment between father and son. The quiet, though, at times, humorous story, concluded with a cup of shared coffee between father and son.
Jason LaCombe and Taylor Rynski
Two Brooklyn-based actors, Taylor Rynski and Jason LaCombe, acted out a scene from Marina Neary‘s play, The Last Fenian, a historical tragicomedy scheduled for filming in August. Set in 1910 Ireland, “The Last Fenian” tells the story of an Irish nationalist whose sons end up on the opposite sides of the barricades. Rynski and LaCombe portray the star-crossed lovers. But be warned: this is not your typical Romeo and Juliet story.
Playwright Marina Julia Neary
Socializing and feedback during the break
Ron Ryan, Mary Tierney, and Larry Fleischman
Mary Tierney, Ron Ryan, and Larry Fleischman led the audience on a raucously delightful trip in the one-act play, “The Best Cup of Coffee.” Mary played the proprietor, a proud woman whose reputation rests on her making the perfect cup of coffee — anywhere. That day two strangers, who are driving around the country sampling coffees to determine which is the most perfect, pull up at her cafe. Will Mary’s perfect coffee hold its pride of place, or is she in for a bitter downfall? The scene was a cliffhanger to the last word!
Tony Pena read four poems, giving each poem an impassioned Pena-style rendition. The poems were a mix of heartbreak, history, and humor. “Head in the Clouds” was about losing a parent to dementia. In “Dance, Zelda, Dance”, the poet said he was giving – and certainly gave!! — Zelda Fitzgerald her well deserved acclaim. “Broken Mold” was about a working man forced to make the ultimate sacrifice. Tony’s last poem, “To Be”, was about letting kids be themselves.
Russell Brown, presenting at the IAW&A Salon for the first time in a while, presented two dance videos he has completed. Both videos had the lovely feel of sharing that true dance always invites. The first video was shot outdoors and featured a dancer slowly dancing up a very long road. The second video was a quietly choreographed scene of a dancer’s very slow and deliberate motions, at times echoing the ‘feel’ of Japanese dance. In the fall 2015, Russell leaves for Ireland where he is beginning a PH.D. Lucky Russell!
John McDonagh performed another piece from his one man play Cabtivist . A comedic and sometimes heartbreaking look at the world through the eyes of a New York City cabdriver, McDonagh focused this vignette on his brush with fame on Fox tv. Stories about the NYC cabbie protest during the Republican convention of 2004 culminated in a hilarious video of John’s brief and never-to-be repeated appearance on Fox TV. The video was a hilarious replay of John’s “1:42 moment of fame” on Fox TV.
Completing the episode he began sharing at the July 7th IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia, John Kearns read an excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds. After spending an afternoon eating beignetts and mufulettas and drinking beer in the French Quarter, Paul Logan continues his gluttonous day at an official dinner for the Catholic schoolteachers’ convention he is attending. He describes in great detail the memorable meal he enjoys but longs to be out on Bourbon Street drinking and listening to music again. Bringing along two boring companions and dragging him to a tourist trap, his girlfriend grows tired and wants to go home. The couple have an argument and Paul’s girlfriend goes back to the hotel without him and leaves the room before Paul wakes up the next morning, still in his clothes from the night before.
Regular presenter, Tom Mahon, read the first chapter of a children’s book he wrote, which was inspired by his son’s fascination with Bigfoot. Jamie, a young boy, wakes to his grandfather’s dog barking. He follows it to the barn, where they discover a strange animal covered in hair and no bigger than Jamie. Tom originally did the work as a play which he directed at his son’s elementary school in Saratoga Springs. It’s called Little Bigfoot. As always, Tom was his own best actor-reader, having the audience on the edge of their chairs during his this-is-happening-now reading.
Marni Rice, chanteuse-accordioniste-composer presented a vintage French Chanson from the 1930’s entitled “L’Etranger” (“The Foreigner”) about a woman who meets a mysterious man in a train station on a rainy night, followed by an original instrumental composition, “The Tango of 106th Street” and closing the Salon with an Irish ballad, “My Bonnie Boy” from the Sarah Makem songbook.
Don’t forget the IAW&A meeting for all members on July 30th at 6 pm at the Irish Consulate. Email IASalon@hotmail.com to reserve your spot.
The next IAW&A Salon will be on WEDNESDAY, August 5th, at Bar Thalia at 7 pm! We are switching to first Wednesdays of the month for August, September, and October. We’ll have the space to ourselves — and that’s not trivial!
See you soon!