Stage Door News

New York: Irish Repertory Theatre announces first-ever all-online season

Friday, May 22, 2020

New York’s Irish Repertory Theatre has announced an upcoming online run of four plays, becoming what could be Off Broadway’s first summer season created specifically for virtual viewing. Included in the line-up is the world premiere of Darren Murphy’s short playThe Gifts You Gave to the Dark, with characters affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like all Broadway and most Off Broadway theaters, Irish Rep is under shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly all New York venues have been dark since mid-March.

Announced today by artistic director Charlotte Moore and producing director Ciarán O’Reilly, Irish Rep’s first online summer season will feature three of the company’s more popular recent productions reimagined for the screen and filmed remotely – Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom, The Weir and Love, Noël: The Songs and Letters of Noël Coward – as well as the world premiere of Darren Murphy’s short play The Gifts You Gave to the Dark.

Also included in the summer offerings is an online special about the company founded in 1988,The Irish (Rep)… and How We Got That Way: A Celebration of Endurance and Perseverance Through Hard Times. That special will include a screening of the 1998 Irish Rep world premiere production of Frank McCourt’s The Irish…and How They Got That Way.

All streamings are free of charge, with suggested donations of $25 to be used to pay staff and other expenses.

Kicking off the virtual season is the May 27 world premiere of Murphy’s The Gifts You Gave to the Dark, starring Marty Rea as Tom, a man confined to his bed in Belfast with COVID-19 and unable to visit his mother, Rose (Tony Award winner Marie Mullen, The Beauty Queen of Leenane), who is dying in Dublin. Tom’s Uncle Larry (Seán McGinley, Braveheart) arranges a call from Rose’s sickbed, with Tom telling his mother the story of a perfect day they once shared.

Irish Rep describes Tom’s tale as “a Belfast story, and it’s the very last thing he can do for his mother – the only thing he can do for her. As Tom speaks, he takes his mother home on her final voyage, during the last ten minutes of her life. The Gifts You Gave to the Dark is about the power of story to offer succor and comfort in even the bleakest times, over separations of geography and time.”

Written specifically for digital media in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Gifts You Gave to the Dark is directed by Caitríona McLaughlin, associate director, Abbey Theatre, and features music by Carl Kennedy. The play will premiere on Wednesday May 27 at 6 p.m. ET and will remain online through October 2020.

The Irish Rep celebration special The Irish (Rep)… and How We Got That Way… streams Monday, June 8 at 7 p.m. ET, along with the screening of the company’s 1998 production of The Irish… and How They Got That Way by Angela’s Ashes author McCourt. McCourt’s widow, Irish Rep board chair emerita Ellen McCourt, and brother Malachy McCourt will join Irish Rep’s co-founders in an online conversation. The video will then be available to stream through June 14.

A pre-show fundraising Zoom event for VIP guests and supporters with cast and creatives will begin at 6 p.m. June 8. VIP pre-event tickets start at $500. (The pre-show event takes the place of the theater’s annual fundraising gala).

Both The Gifts You Gave to the Dark and The Irish (Rep)…and How We Got That Way do not require reservations for viewing on the Irish Rep YouTube channel. Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom, The Weir and Love, Noël… will require reservations in advance, and be viewable only via a link emailed two hours prior to the stream.

The rest of the summer line-up is:

Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom, from the novel Ulysses by James Joyce, adapted for the stage by Aedín Moloney and Colum McCann. Music by Paddy Moloney, and starring Aedín Moloney. June 16 – 20, 2020

The Weir, written by Conor McPherson, directed by Ciarán O’Reilly. Starring Dan Butler, Sean Gormley, John Keating, Amanda Quaid and Tim Ruddy. July 21 – 25, 2020

Love, Noël: The Songs and Letters of Noël Coward, written and devised by Barry Day, directed by Charlotte Moore. Starring Steve Ross and KT Sullivan. August 18 – 22, 2020.

By Greg Evans for