by Karen Daly
Summer schedules, rush hour rain made for a light turnout for Tuesday’s IAW&A salon at the Cell. The bright side was an intimate, relaxed evening that had exceptionally fine work from presenters. And it was truly brightened by the presence of a new comic talent, Bryan Walsh.
Mark Butler left us laughing as he read some lines from his new one act comedy, “The Laundry War” (yes, it’s about a relationship that’s worked out while doing the laundry) and then dashed off to rehearsal. It played this past weekend in the Short Plays & Musical Festival at The Players Theatre on MacDougal Street.
More laughs from Sharon Wajswol and her merry cast of seven: Biniam Tekola, Jen Taher, Mark E. Phillips, Phil Kushner, Paul Sheehan, Janine Hegarty, and David Khouri in the “racetrack” scene from the farce Horseplay which Sharon wrote with Joan Bolger-Bobrov.
Cast of Sharon Wajswol’s Horseplay
The setup: an Irish family and a Jewish family live in a two-story house near the Saratoga racetrack. Both families are in debt: one borrows to stage a play in an attempt to resurrect the acting career of wife Nessa O’Callaghan Flynn. The other borrows from shady relatives for their son’s Bar Mitzvah. Nessa’s brother, a jockey, comes to visit with his horse, which does not yet have a proper racetrack name. When the brother and the Bar Mitzvah boy strike up an unlikely friendship, the jockey names his racehorse Bar Mitzvah Boy. But events get fuzzy on race day, when the Rabbi ends up in the jockey’s seat, and history is made at Saratoga!
Salon producer and host, John Kearns read an unforgettable excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, about jilted lover Seamus Logan who ran away from Mayo to Connemara in the late 19th century. Stopping to rest at the Doolough Pass, Seamus encounters famine ghosts who tell the tale of the starving people who were forced to walk from Louisburgh, Co. Mayo to Delphi Lodge in Connemara, Co. Galway and the many who died along the roadsides. The patriarch of the Logan family asks the spirits, “Could they not spare 50, 20, 10, even one of your number?”
New York City, here he comes. Bryan Walsh encountered IAW&A at the Philadelphia Salon, and came to NY to present his work. A stand-up comic and actor with a unique charm, Bryan was born in Cork, grew up in Canada and recently lived in London. As part of his Theatre Studies at McGill University in Montreal, he completed an internship at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He will be appearing at the 2013 Kansas City Irish Festival and we hope to see him at future salons.
Tom Mahon has been reading segments of The Wide Valley about generations of a farm family in upstate New York. On Tuesday night, he presented a multimedia segment about a young boy in the time of the Spanish Influenza that killed 50 million people worldwide in 1918, twice as many who died in WW I.
Bewildered by the epidemic that has killed family, friends and neighbors and shut his school because so many students are sick or have died, he thinks he can “find” the cause on his father’s farm. The boy learns that his best friend has just died, and has questions about death. Tom illustrated the story with evocative period photographs.
Margaret McCarthy placed Deirdre, the heroine of Irish myth among us in “NYC Deirdre” from her poetry collection, In the Becoming. McCarthy described the poem as “a bridge; moving the story’s characters in and out of time and place allowed me to develop the material further, into my stage play Deirdre Retrograde.” She seeks to publish the poetry collection as a book, and a full production of the stage play. See more of Margaret’s work at http://www.margaretmccarthy.com and http://www.avisionandaverse.com.
Mary Lannon read from her short story-in-progress, “They Teased Me about Him,” about grad students sharing a Bronx apartment whose superintendent was attracted to the young woman narrator. For several audience members, the story evoked fond memories of the Arthur Avenue neighborhood. And we all want to see how the relationship develops. Mary teaches English at Nassau Community College, is at work on a dystopian novel, and is trying to sell her first novel.
Short story writer, playwright and Salon stalwart Seamus Scanlon read a new story called “Country Road.” Despite the sweet title, the story was not bedtime reading for children, as it features rotten teeth, a child pyromaniac, OCD, car theft, baseball bats, and high SAT scores. Seamus thought that the audience wasn’t sure whether to laugh or not but those familiar with a certain kind of black humor got it.
Stephanie Silber read an excerpt from a short story entitled “Making Stories” in which a blocked writer tries to kick down the doors while absorbing life lessons about love and longing, fidelity, disappointment, and ultimately, compromise, and true connection. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, Stephanie is thrilled to be working again on fiction, and is seeking representation/publication for her work.
Jack DiMonte concluded the evening with two songs. The first was “The People That You Never Get to Love” by Rupert Holmes. In an effort to create a “reasonable facsimile” of an Irish folk song, Jack lead us in a sing-along of the Beatles’ “All My Loving” at a slow ballad tempo. A soothing close to a stimulating evening.
Don’t forget the next salon is July 2, at the Bar Thalia. John Kearns will be sending good wishes from dear, dirty Dublin.