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from Origin Theatre's Artistic Director, George Heslin

Past Work

September 28th 2015

A production from Ireland - 'Little Thing Big Thing' - and a play produced in New York - 'The Quare Land' - were the top choices at the 2015 Origin's 1st Irish Theatre Festival Awards Ceremony at Scandinavia House. Hooking the Festival's Best Production Award was the Dublin-based Fishamble: The New Play Company's 'Little Thing Big Thing', by Donal O'Kelly. New York's Irish Rep grabbed four awards for 'The Quare Land', including Best Director for Ciaran O'Reilly and Best Playwright for John McManus.

In the acting categories Myles Breen won Best Actor for his revealing look at the life of a cross-dressing gay man from the small-town Ireland in 'Language UnBecoming a Lady', and Sorcha Fox won Best Actress for her nifty turn as a nun on the lamb with an ex-con in 'Little Thing Big Thing. (This was Fox's second win in the category; she was a Festival best actress winner in 2011 for the haunting play 'Bogboy).

Two other outstanding performances were also honored: The beloved Irish comedian Pat Shortt, nominated for Best Actor, instead won the festival's Origin Award for his charismatic performance in his selfie-titled 'Selfie', in which he created comic havoc at the Irish Arts Center during the Festival. The festival's Special Jury Prize went to 'The Quare Land's' Peter Maloney (last year's Best Actor winner) for his unique contributions to New York theatre over many decades, and, in particular, for his unforgettable old coot in 'The Quare Land'. 'The Quare Land's' fourth award was for Best Design, and award shared by the show's entire design team.

The evening's co-hosts were the Broadway actress Geraldine Hughes, and Ciaran Grant, who coordinated the Awards ceremony.

In all, 7 mainstage plays - from Belfast, Dublin, Limerick, and New York - were seen in competition during the five-week festival that began on September 2, and continued through October 4, including  NY Times Critic's Pick 'Pondling' at 59E59 Theaters.

This year's blue-ribbon panel of judges included former Fox News senior producer Marvin Himelfarb, editor in chief Andy Lefkowitz, and Doug Reside, curator of the Theater Division at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

The list of nominees was as follows:

Best actress

  • Sorcha Fox ('Little Thing, Big Thing')
  • Genevieve Hulme-Beaman ('Pondling')
  • Robin Leslie Brown ('Stoopdreamer').


Best actor

  • Myles Breen ('Language Unbecoming a Lady')
  • Jack O'Connell ('Stoopdreamer')
  • Donal O'Kelly ('Little Thing, Big Thing')
  • Pat Shortt ('Selfie').


Best Director

  • Ciaran O'Reilly ('The Quare Land')
  • Jim Culleton ('Little Thing, Big Thing')
  • Kira Simring ('Stoopdreamer')
  • Paul Meade ('Pondling')


Best Playwright

  • Myles Breen ('Language Unbecoming a Lady')
  • Genevieve Hulme-Beaman ('Pondling')
  • Pat Fenton ('Stoopdreamer')
  • John McManus ('The Quare Land')


Best Design

  • 'Little Thing, Big Thing'
  • 'Pondling'
  • 'The Quare Land'


Best Production

  • 'Little Thing, Big Thing'
  • 'Pondling'
  • 'Language Unbecoming a Lady'
  • 'Stoopdreamer'


In addition to its jury-voted awards, two new cash prizes were also conferred: a Breaking Ground Award for playwriting sponsored by the Irish Business Organization of New York. The actor Laurence Lowry ('Python') received a Special Appreciation Award sponsored by the Irish pub Ryan's Daughter.

The festival's productions in competition were presented at The Irish Arts Center ('Selfie'), 59E59 Theaters ('Little Thing Big Thing' and 'Pondling'); The Irish Rep at DR2 Theatre ('The Quare Land'), the cell ('Stoopdreamer' and 'Language UnBecoming a Lady'), and An Beal Bocht Café ('Python'). Other festival events took place at the New York Irish Center in Queens; The American Irish Historical Society, Triad Theater, NYU's Glucksman Ireland House, and ART/NY.

Funding support for 1st Irish 2015 is generously provided by the Festival Sponsors Mutual of America; McVicker & Higginbotham; the Northern Ireland Bureau; Tourism Ireland; the American Ireland Fund; the Irish Consulate, New York, and the NY State Council for the Arts. The newest sponsors are The Arts Council of Northern Ireland; the British Council - Northern Ireland, and Goldman Sachs.

Curated and coordinated by Festival founder George C. Heslin, Origin's 1st Irish is the only festival of its kind to focus exclusively on the work of Irish playwrights, and is the city's only all-Irish theatre festival. Origin Theatre Company is a year-round theatre company based in New York devoted to presenting the American premieres of new works by Europe's brightest contemporary playwrights. Over the past 13 years, Origin has introduced works by 150 playwrights to US audiences, from such countries as Romania, Macedonia, Norway, Ireland and the United Kingdom.