Tag Archives: solas nua

It’s Awards Season

It’s been a busy week for us at Solas Nua.  We’ve got The Performance Corporation in town and they are hard at work rehearsing Swampoodle which will run for 1 week only in mid-May, tomorrow is our Capital Irish Film Festival Fundraiser The 20th Anniversary Party for The Commitments, and in the midst of all of that we have been making appearances at all the most prestigious awards ceremonies around town.  It’s been quite a run this year and it’s just so amazing to be recognized for all the hard work that everyone puts into Solas Nua productions.

First up on DC Awards tour was the Mayor’s Arts Awards, presented by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.  As per Linda’s instructions we began to congregate, dressed in our very best and looking ever so elegant, around Kennedy’s Bust in the always beautiful Kennedy Center; Donors, Staff, Board Members and Friends of Solas.  We were nominated for an “Innovation in the Arts” award along with Contemporary Music Forum/VERGE Ensemble, Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh CompanyThe Double Nickels Theatre Company, Inc., FotoWeekDC, and The Studio Theatre.

We waited with baited breath, As Deirdre Burke (Cultural Attaché for the Irish Embassy) and Dr. Paul Virander came out to announce winner of the “Innovation in the Arts” award.  We took home the award that night, and Linda Murray, our ever brilliant Artistic Director, took the stage to accept it.  The Solas Nua afterparty was held at Mie N Yu in Georgetown where we rehashed the evenings events.  We are so very proud and grateful to have been given this award and congratulate all of those who were nominated and those who won in their categories.  We have a truly unique and innovative arts community here in Washington and are so privileged to work alongside of you all.


Last night saw us once again dressed to the nines for what we affectionately call Theatre Prom.  It’s the night when all the hard work that our amazing theatre community puts forth throughout the year is recognized in a ‘Drama Desk’ like atmosphere, the Helen Hayes Awards.  The Solas Nua entourage met at Againn to a pre-awards-ceremony cocktail and then ventured over to Pennsylvania Avenue and the Warner Theatre.  Outside of the theatre were all of DC’s finest theatre in combinations of taffeta, lace, silk and chiffon.  You could feel the energy and excitement as camera crews were interviewing people left and right.  We made our way into the theatre ( which is beautiful), and settled in for the next 2 1/2 hours.

Solas Nua production were nominated for two awards this year:

Outstanding Sound Design, Resident Production
Matt Otto, Johnny Meister and the Stitch, Solas Nua

and Outstanding Choreography, Resident Production
Diane Coburn Bruning, Improbable Frequency, Solas Nua

Each was up against a talented group of nominees, sadly we didn’t take home either award that evening, but we are honored, just the same for being recognized, in the DC theatre community.  

Of course the best part of the Helen Hayes Awards, besides honoring all of the talented artists in DC, is the afterparty at the JW Marriott next door to the theatre.  It was a sea of formalwear as we walked the 2 blocks to the hotel ready to put our dancing shoes on.  The place was ready for us, complete with bite size foods, sweets to keep us going all night long, a dance floor and a photobooth (still waiting for those digital copies to be available online).  The first brave souls on the dance floor were no amateurs and set the tone for the rest of the night of dancing.  Highlight: Synetic Theatre company members showing off their best moves.  Everyone was ready to shake their tale feathers and those Solas Nua ladies sure know how to bust a move (too many dancing clichés, perhaps).  In any case we had a fantastic time and hope to be back next year.  



Book Day 2011

Well, we made it.  Another Book Day has come and gone, and we are no worse for the weather, or at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves.  This was my first Irish Book Day so I had no idea what to expect.  I woke up earlier than usual thursday morning in order to commandeer the ZipCar Toyota Takoma that would serve as our supply runner for the early part of the morning.  We had the truck loaded with books, tables, and banner by 7:45 and on our way to the Dupont Circle Metro Stop soon after (New York Avenue Metro station had been up and running since 7am that morning).

As we began setting up our lovely volunteer at the North side entrance we recruited another, waiting patiently for us to set up the books, he asked if we needed a hand and helped us carry the rest of the boxes of books to the table, at which point we had collected a healthy number of folks around the table interested in which titles we were giving away.

We had stations set up at Metro Center and Galleryplace/Chinatown as well.  This year’s titles included:

The Master – Colm Toíbín
The Táin – translated by Ciaran Carson
Benny and Omar – Eoin Colfer
Netherland – Joseph O’Neill
Slammerkin – Emma Donoghue
Breakfast on Pluto – Patrick McCabe

to name a few.

Books went quickly and by 4:30 we were down to or last 60 books, we started the day with 15,000 mind you.  by 5pm we were completely out and packing the last of our Metro Center stations up and heading back to the office to begin preparing for our closing act of the day, Craicdown!

Craicdown, for those who don’t know, is our annual mash-up with Washington Improv Theatre (WIT).  It’s an evening of hilarious improv theatre all with and Irish twist culminating in the esteemed Riverdance competition.  Everyone enjoyed themselves and it was a refreshing change from the typical St. Paddy’s Day festivities happening around the city.

We got a sneak peak at our upcoming performance Swampoodle

So we survived to plan another Book Day, next year maybe we’ll give away 20,000 books, Lord help us all.

It’s All About Ideas

It’s day 2 of our 3 day mini theatre festival featuring the works of Project Brand New.

Project Brand New is a programme which supports artists making work outside of traditional theatre models… it offers an opportunity to test out ideas at a developmental stage in an informal environment, where audience feedback and discussion is key.

Three 30-minute works in progress, presented in semi-finished forms, ready for the generous critiques of the audience.  The idea is to create a dialogue between artist and audience and take elements of this conversation to rework the plays.  It’s like a play reading on steroids.   Each play is at a different state of completion and each is still working to create a finished and stage ready production.


In January of 201o Dublin’s late night theatre club began the project Twenty-Ten. Each day 50 people received emails from THEATREclub asking a simple questions “What have you learnt today?”  The email recipients were prompted to answer the question via the attached submission form.  What resulted was an interesting and collaborative look into the lives of hundreds of Irish people through the voices of 3 actors sitting at a single table.  Spoken in succession, this seemingly unrelated thoughts somehow weave themselves into a cohesive story of contemporary Irish life, or really life in general.  Some of the excerpts speak directly to living in Ireland while others are simply the thoughts, fears and joys of being human and living in the world today.  the ever-expanding, continuously moving world that we live in.

(directed by Una Mckevitt & featuring Mary O’Rourke)

“565+ is about survival”  The Mary O’Rourke standing in front of you today is far from the woman of 2003.  2003 was the year everything changed, on the advice of her doctor Mary started attending the theatre regularly, and it saved her life.  Since 2003 she has seen over 565 plays.  For Mary, theatre is an escape, and a journey, and a safe haven.  “You can go to the theatre alone” she says.  You can sit in the dark and you don’t have to talk, you can just be.  Perhaps the most moving of the 3 pieces, 565+ will have you laughing and crying all at the same time, and in the end you feel good about life.

The Ballet Ruse
(Muirne Bloomer and Emma O’Kane)

“Once Upon A Time… 2 budding ballerinas battled for perfection in the sugar-coated world of ballet.  Those hopes and dreams didn’t survive but they did.”  The Ballet Ruse takes a often comical yet poignant look at the absurd world of the ballet.  Beginning with a scene depicting the intense training dancers endure all to stand in the chorus and look pretty (bored out of their minds).  The unrealistic expectations dancers and teachers have for ballerinas, and the lengths through which these dancers will go to achieve these unrealistic and sometimes dangerous ideals.

With 2 performances left you won’t want to miss this.  If this is the caliber of work we can expect from all Project Brand New works I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in February and June 2011.

Purchase Tickets Here!

Wrapping up Improbable Frequency

It’s been almost a week since we wrapped on Improbable Frequency which means it’s reflection time.  Here is where we get to do a post mortem, we look back on the crazy wild adventure that was improbable frequency.

So what is it that we have learned.  Well for starters, putting on a musical is quite an undertaking, but that’s what we do here at Solas Nua, we aim high.  We never take the easy way out, because good art doesn’t come out of easy.  And we did it, the show came together in a dizzying array song, dance, and word play like none that Solas Nua had seen before.  Our cast was amazing and we thank all of them for the time and effort they put in.  It was fun guys 🙂

What else did we learn, well, when giving people a password to enter a super secret club, using the term ‘cruciverbalist’ may not be your best option.  While it makes perfect sense once you’ve seen the tongue twisting, word bending spectacular, your patrons invariably will look at you like you’re insane and tentatively make their way to the elevator wondering if they will ever remember that crazy phrase by the time they reach the 6th floor.  Word to the wise, pick normal english words like radio waves or atomic… but where’s the fun in that right?!

Perhaps another insightful revelation we stumbled upon is that there’s something to this ‘site specific’ thing.  All the rumblings I’ve been hearing are that people are really excited to get out of the traditional theatre and experience something new.  we’re the only theatre company in DC that is doing this right now, and it’s great that so many people are behind it.  And what’s even better, it doesn’t end here.  We’ve got more fantastic venues ready and waiting to be transformed into the ultimate theatre experience.  We think you’re gonna be impressed with all of them.

Even after all the lessons learned the most important things we have taken away is the amazing dedication of you guys.  With the exception of one or two evenings our house, or more precisely our night club, was full.  We can’t thank you all enough

So that’s it folks.  Improbable Frequency is officially closed and it’s full steam ahead.  November is a cornucopia of events starting with the incomparable Julie Feeney, followed by a special collaboration with Project Brand New including Úna McKevitt’s Conceived and Directed.  Then we round out the month with visual artist Karl Burke.  In short we’ve got a jam packed month with some pretty amazing artists that you will not want to miss.

burlesque, espionage and… lederhosen?

improbable frequency, truly, is unlike any other piece i have ever seen or performed. matt torney, our director, came into the rehearsal process with a very definite idea of how he wanted to shape this part-romance, part-parody, part-thriller piece. for starters, he stressed the importance of grounding our story in one of history’s most devastating wars. the stakes are at a fever pitch: breaking neutrality and entering world war II could cost thousands of irish lives. many characters in the show; for example schrodinger, betjamin, and myles na gcopaleen, were dynamic public figures of the time.  also, weather broadcasts in ireland were actually forbidden, to prevent aiding nazi spies in bombing britain.

by grounding our journey in realities of the world war II era, we were free to explore different styles throughout the rehearsal process. as philomena, I dove into the passionate wartime romance style, and the mystery-thriller style of the thickening plot. the whole cast hit the ground running. it seemed that each day we covered miles of ground! it was doubly challenging to master the wide variety of musical genres, and to quickly switch from one acting style to the next. under careful direction and attention to detail, however, philomena and the rest of the characters quickly came alive to inhabit each style.

i am so pleased to be a part of realizing this smorgasbord of musical delight, fit to delight the eyes and ears of every ‘hotshot cruciverbalist’ in d.c.!

– stacey jackson — “philomena”

as we prepare to open improbable frequency tomorrow night, the office is fairly quiet.  quiet because everyone is over at the redbank nightclub putting the finishing touches on what is sure to be a solas nua production like non-other.  transforming the 6th floor of an office building in northeast dc has been no small feat, but transform we have, and what we have created is an authentic 1940s experience that we are sure you will not forget.  join us at the redbank nighclub and let us transport you from the 21st century to WWII era ireland.

improbable frequency

september 30th – october 24th, 2010
111 k street me
metro: union station
tix: $25 general admission
special $20 price on wednesdays!

out and about @ arts on foot

it’s a crisp, cool saturday morning and I am awake much earlier than I would normally be on a saturday.  the reason? arts on foot of course.  this will be my first experience with arts on foot, and to top it off i am not just going as a spectator, i am going to represent solas nua.  as i hop on the bus headed towards chinatown i wonder what is in store.  it’s shaping up to be a lovely day, a pleasant contrast to the expected 87 degree weather forecasted a week ago.  before entering the arts on foot zone i have to make a stop at the office and pick up supplies.  we promised swag and swag we brought.  postcards, brochures, t-shirts, buttons, and top secret codes only for the most trusted individuals.

decked out in my solas nua pink and black, ever the spokesperson, i watch as each curious bystander walks up to our table wondering what in the world is this ‘solas nua’ with the vibrantly pink table cloth (yes we had a pink table cloth, see pictures below) i explain to them what we are and what we do.  at first i can see their skeptical eyes silently thinking “contemporary irish arts, what does that even mean.”   but by the end of the conversation i can tell their interests have been peaked.

this is the moment i wait for, the moment when someone realizes that the arts in ireland are not just the traditional outlets that so often come to mind.  that the artists coming out of ireland right now are relevant and important in so many ways. i remember when i myself had this realization. and that is what arts on foot is for, it creates a place for people to explore the amazing arts community in dc.  it allows organizations access to a larger audience and in turn provides this audience with access to the diverse arts world that sometimes seems to get hidden by all the politics of the city.  it was great to be able to be a part of it this weekend, and share an organization that i have grown to love with others in the dc community.

kevin stopped by to help out for a bit...and is that maddy in the background?

brieahn j

the prophet of monto and the first irish theatre festival

with less than a week till opening night talks around the office are focused on our nyc production. solas nua  presents the prophet of monto by john paul murphy, directed by the lovely des kennedy, and featuring laoisa sexton and michael mellamphy.

liam and zoe are madly in love. well, one of them is. the other is up to all kinds of messing. when sometime-clairvoyant zoe is abroad, an eerily similar lady is seen zooming around dublin on the back of a motorcycle making illicit cash withdrawals. discovering the deception, liam’s twin brother larry plans an unusual revenge. but zoe has one more trick up her sleeve…

the prophet of monto opens on september 8, 2010 as part of the first irish theatre festival.  entering its third year, the theatre festival brings the very best of irish theatre to the new york community.  hosted by origin theatre company, the first irish theatre festival has succeeded in reaching more than 17 million people in its two years providing them access to the best irish theatre around.  the festival itself will run from early september to early october at 15 locations throughout new york city and will feature a total of 18 plays.  after you have had a chance to see our production you should definitely check out the other plays that are being presented as well.

origin theatre company is a non-profit cross-cultural theatre company that dedicates itself to the cultivation and development of new european playwrights.  based in new york city they have presented a long list of successful shows including the world premiere of rundown by mark o’rowe and one of our favorite playwrights enda walsh’s, misterman.

this will be the second show we have brought to the new york audience.  our first, of course, was enda walsh’s disco pigs in 2008 as part of the 1st ‘first irish theatre festival’.  disco pigs was a wild success then and we are sure that the prophet of monto will receive the same warm welcome.  of course we always think that our productions are brilliant, but that is because they are.  we make sure to produce some of the best works out of ireland for your viewing pleasures.  so if you are in the new york city area you don’t want to miss this 3 week run of the prophet of monto.  visit the solas nua site for more information.

below is a promo video from the first irish theatre festival  website