Long Wharf Theatre begins 2011-12 season with the Irish Rep production of Molly Sweeney

Long Wharf Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein and Interim Managing Director Joshua Borenstein, present The Irish Repertory Theatre production of Molly Sweeney, by Brian Friel, directed by Charlotte Moore.

The show will run from September 14 through October 16, 2011 on Stage II. The cast is comprised of Jonathan Hogan (Mr. Rice), Simone Kirby (Molly Sweeney) and Ciaran O’Reilly (Frank Sweeney). Simone Kirby is appearing with the permission of Actors’ Equity Association. The producers gratefully acknowledge Actors’ Equity Association for its assistance of this production.

The artistic team is comprised of James Morgan (sets), Linda Fisher (costumes), Richard Pilbrow and Michael Gottlieb (lights), and Zachary Richardson (sound).

Blind since infancy, Molly Sweeney only knows of the world through touch, sound, taste, and smell.  But when she is goaded into an operation to restore her sight by her husband and doctor, she sees for the first time all the glory and harsh realities of the life she is living.  Molly’s tale moves toward an unexpected and poignant conclusion about the way we perceive our existence. The New York Times described the Irish Repertory Theatre production as “A deeply moving meditation on hope, change and despair, it’s a compelling piece of theatre, one in which the ending applause is only the beginning of the play’s effects.”

“This late masterpiece from the great Brian Friel is, among other things, an investigation into the power and limitations of modern science,” said Gordon Edelstein, artistic director. “The question the play asks is what makes us happy? What do we need to live a satisfied life?”

Brian Friel, born in Ireland in 1929 and best known for Dancing at Lughnasa and Translations, was inspired to write Molly Sweeney after reading a New Yorker article by Dr. Oliver Sacks called “To See and Not See.” Friel directed the world premiere of the play at Dublin’s The Gate Theatre in 1994.

“A neurologist’s life is not systematic, like a scientist’s, but it provides him with novel and unexpected situations, which can become windows, peepholes, into the intricacy of nature – an intricacy that one might not anticipate from the ordinary course of life,” Sacks wrote in the May 10, 1993 article.

For more information about Long Wharf Theatre’s 2011-12 season, visit www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

THE CREATIVE TEAM

Simone Kirby
Molly Sweeney
Ms. Kirby’s theatre work includes Lay Me Down Softly, The Tricycle Theatre, Midsummer Night’s Dream The Milton Rooms, Molly Sweeney Irish Rep Theatre, New York, and Curve Theatre, Leicester; Macbeth and Loves Labour’s Lost, Shakespeares Globe; Dancing At Lughnasa, The Old Vic;  Cat On A Hot Tin Roof’ and Mud (Best Actress nomination, Irish Theatre Awards) Corn Exchange, ‘Taming Of The Shrew’ and ‘Don Carlos’, Rough Magic; ‘The Cavalcaders’ and ‘The School For Scandal’, Abbey Theatre, ‘Festen’, The Gate Theatre; ‘The Tinkers Wedding’, DruidSynge (Lincoln Festival, New York/Gutherie Theatre, Minneapolis); ‘Falling Out Of Love’, Yew Tree; ‘The Secret Garden,, Landmark Productions; ‘Shooting Gallery’, Bedrock Productions; ‘Mind Your Fingers’ (Jayne Snow Award, Dublin Fringe Festival) Giddy Productions ; ‘The Well Of The Saints’ and ‘Playboy Of The Western World’, Druid Theatre Co.; ‘Amadeus’, Ouroboros Theatre Co.; ‘Women In Arms’, Storytellers/Cork Opera House; ‘Getting 2 Level 10’, Calipo Theatre Co.; ‘The Deadmans Beard’, Everyman Palace. Her film and television appearances include ‘Season Of The Witch’; Lionsgate, ‘Pure Mule’ & ‘Pure Mule: The Last Weekend’ RTE/Accomplice Films; ‘Single Handed 2: The Stolen Child’, RTE/Touchpaper. She has also appeared in the radio plays ‘In The Blink Of An Eye’, ‘The Lottery’, and ‘Twentyseven’, RTE Radio Drama.

Jonathan Hogan
Mr. Hogan has appeared on Broadway in Comedians, Otherwise Engaged, Fifth of July, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, As Is (Tony and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actor), Burn This, Taking Steps, and The Homecoming. A few of the plays he appeared in as a member, for 25 years, of the celebrated, award winning and late, lamented Circle Rep include The Hot l Baltimore, The Mound Builders, and Balm in Gilead (in collaboration with Steppenwolf). Other performances Off Broadway include Molly Sweeney, Heroes, Book of Days, In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, The Madras House, The Conscientious Objector, and Sophistry. Regionally, he acted most recently in A Delicate Balance at The Berkshire Theatre Festival. He has also performed at The McCarter Theatre, George Street Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Hartford Stage. Films include In Country, The House On Carroll Street, A Fish In The Bathtub and Revolution #9. On television he has been seen on “As The World Turns,” “One Life To Live,” several movies of the week, “L.A. Law,” “Quantum Leap,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” and “Law & Order: Trial by Jury.” Mr. Hogan is a graduate of The Goodman Theatre and School of Drama.

Ciarán O’Reilly
Frank Sweeney
Mr. O’Reilly was recently seen in George Bernard Shaw’s Candida and Friel’s Aristocrats at The Irish Repertory Theatre and the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Touch of A Poet with Gabriel Byrne.  He has appeared at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and made his Broadway debut in The Corn is Green. He directed Banished Children of Eve, The Emperor Jones (Callaway Award, Drama Desk, Drama League, and Lucille Lortel nominations), The Yeats Project, The Master Builder, Prisoner of the Crown, Sive, Defender of the Faith, The Hairy Ape (Drama Desk, Drama LeagueNoms.), The Field, Philadelphia, Here I Come! (Drama Desk Nom.). Other Off-Broadway roles include The Shadow of a Gunman; The Hostage; Da, Summer and The Au Pair Man; Philadelphia, Here I Come!; The Playboy of the Western World; Grandchild of Kings;  and  A Whistle in the Dark; Film and TV: The Devil’s Own, “Law & Order,” “The Irish…and How They Got That Way,” “Third Watch” and Bored to Death. He founded The Irish Repertory Theatre with Charlotte Moore and serves as its Producing Director.

Brian Friel
Playwright
Born 9 January 1929, Catholic, in Omagh, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, Brian  Friel is one of Ireland’s most prominent playwrights. In addition to his published plays, he has written short stories; screenplays; film, television and radio adaptations of his plays; and several pieces of non-fiction on the role of theatre and the artist. Friel attended secondary school at Saint Columb’s College, Derry.  He attended the Republic of Ireland’s national seminary, Saint Patrick’s College, near Dublin but instead of going on to the priesthood, he took a post-graduate teaching course in Belfast. He started teaching in Derry in 1950 and wrote in the meantime. His first radio play A Sort of Freedom aired on BBC in 1958.  In 1959 his first short story, “The Skelper,” appeared in the New Yorker and his first stage play, The Francophile, was performed at the Group Theatre, Belfast.  In 1960 he retired from teaching to write full-time. Brian Friel’s plays have premiered and been produced at prestigious venues like the Abbey Theatre, London’s West End and Broadway and have been highly successful everywhere.  His first major play, Philadelphia, Here I Come! was the hit of the 1964 Dublin Theatre Festival. In 1972 he was elected as a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. In 1981, Translations, one of his seminal pieces, was awarded the Ewart-Biggs Peace Prize. Friel continued his interest in the arts as a member of Aosdana, the national treasure of Irish artists, to which he was elected in 1982. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Literature by the National University of Ireland in 1983, and in 1987 was nominated to the Irish Senate. Dancing at Lughnasa, probably his most successful play so far, received three Tony Awards in 1992, including Best Play.

Charlotte Moore
Director
Ms. Moore’s previous appearances at Long Wharf Theatre include leading roles in A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters, directed by John Tillinger, The Autumn Garden, directed by Arvin Brown, and Oliver, Oliver, directed by Vivian Matalon. Her recent directing assignments include The Shaughraun, Molly Sweeney, The Irish… and How They Got That Way, White Woman Street, Ernest in Love, The Yeats Project and Brian Friel’s Aristocrats. Her many New York stage appearances include Major Barbara, A Perfect Ganesh, Meet Me in St. Louis, Morning’s at Seven, and Private Lives starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Ms. Moore has directed over fifty Irish Repertory Theatre productions, and has received the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Drama League Award, the Irish America Top 100 Irish Award, and the 2008 Irish Women of  the Year Award.

James Morgan
Scenic Design
Mr. Morgan is the Producing Artistic Director of Manhattan’s award-winning York Theatre Company, with whom he has been associated since 1974.  His design work has been seen on Broadway and Off, and in regional and stock theatres around the country.  Mr. Morgan has a number of directing credits, as well.  He has designed a number of shows directed by Charlotte Moore at the Irish Rep, and has always enjoyed the collaboration; Molly Sweeney was unexpectedly exhilarating.

Linda Fisher
Costume Design
Various film/TV: Stephen King’s The Langoliers, a Chevy Chase pilot, The Final Verdict, After The Storm, Student Body, Heart Of Midnight, Rachel River, Pudd’nhead Wilson, The Private History Of A Campaign That Failed, Mornings At Seven (CBS Video), etc. Broadway: Mornings At Seven (1980), Rose, Foxfire, Bus Stop, Boccaccio, Painting Churches, A Tuna Christmas, etc. Off-Broadway: 18 shows at Irish Rep (including Molly Sweeney), Greater Tuna, plus shows at Manhattan Theatre Club, NY Public, Roundabout, Playwrights’ Horizons, Phoenix Theatre, etc. Regional: 14 shows at Long Wharf Theatre (including Molly Sweeney), plus shows at Westport Country Playhouse, Hartford Stage, Guthrie Theatre, Alley Theatre, Center Stage (Baltimore), Dallas Theatre Center, Cleveland Playhouse, Arena Stage, McCarter, Philadelphia Drama Guild, Alaska Rep, Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, Williamstown Summer Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Rep, Milwaukee Rep, etc. Plus: all the original Tuna shows (Greater Tuna, A Tuna Christmas, Red, White, & Tuna, and Tuna Does Vegas), an HBO pilot of Greater Tuna, and the DVDs. Website: MagneticTuna.com. Ms. Fisher holds a BFA from University of Texas (Austin) and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

Michael Gottlieb
Lighting Design
Mr. Gottlieb is an Emmy Award winning designer for theatre, television, opera, dance and events. For New York’s Irish Rep, he previously designed The Irish…And How They Got That Way, The Master Builder and A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Recent theatre credits include Lysistrata Jones (Transport Group), Signs of Life (AMAS Musical Theatre), Election Day (Second Stage) and Spain (MCC). On Broadway, he was Associate Lighting Designer for A Tale of Two Cities. Regional theatres include The Old Globe, The Hangar and the Goodspeed Opera House. Opera: Sir Peter Hall’s production of The Magic Flute (Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco Opera), with Richard Pilbrow. His television designs include the 2004 Athens Olympic Games (Emmy Award), Christmas in Rockefeller Center (two Emmy nominations), Jerry Springer’s 25th Anniversary Show, The Today Show, and over 15 years of taped material for Saturday Night Live, including (infamously) the SNL Digital Short “D**k in a Box” with Justin Timberlake.  Michael is a Graduate of Vassar College and the British and European Studies Group, London. His portfolio is online at mgld.com.

Richard Pilbrow
Lighting Design
Molly Sweeney, with Michael Gottlieb; Candida, Irish Repertory Theatre; A Tale of Two Cities, Our Town, The Life, Show Boat, Broadway; The Sleeping Beauty with Dawn Chiang, American Ballet Theatre, Metropolitan Opera House; The Magic Flute, LA Opera; many UK National Theatre Company and West End productions. Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Theatre Projects Consultants for 1200 projects in 80 countries. Author of “A Theatre Project—A Backstage Adventure” (published 2011), “Stage Lighting” an international teaching text and “Stage Lighting Design” (published in 1997.) In 2005 Richard was named Lighting Designer of the Year by Lighting Dimensions Magazine.

Zach Williamson
Sound Design
Mr. Williamson is pleased to designing Molly Sweeney again after designing it at the Irish Rep. Recent designs include Cabaret (Kansas City Rep), ReEntry (Baltimore Center Stage), Amadeus (Clarence Brown), On The Town and Joseph… (5th Avenue Seattle), White Women Street, Candida, The Hairy Ape and 16 other productions (Irish Rep), Vanities (2nd Stage), ReEntry (Urban Stages), Jacques Brel …, Opus, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, 26 Miles, ReEntry and four others (Two River), and Joseph … (Ordway & Broadway Asia International Tour). As assistant designer on Broadway: The Ritz and Pal Joey (Roundabout). He has also worked with the Pasadena Playhouse, Goodspeed, Roundhouse, Virginia Stage, Asolo, TheaterWorks Hartford, St. Louis Rep, Vermont Stage and Syracuse Stage. Zach is a member of United Scenic Artists.

The Irish Repertory Theatre
Founded by Ciarán O’Reilly and Charlotte Moore, The Irish Repertory Theatre opened its doors in September 1988 with Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars and is celebrating its 23rd season. The Irish Rep is the only year-round theatre company outside of Ireland devoted to bringing Irish and Irish-American works to the stage.The mission of The Irish Rep is:
·         to bring works by Irish and Irish-American masters and contemporary playwrights to a broad American audience,
·         to provide a context for understanding the contemporary Irish-American experience; and,
·         to encourage the development of new works focusing on the Irish and Irish-American experience, as well as how it relates to other cultures. Recognized with the Jujamcyn Theatres Award, a special Drama Desk Award for “Excellence in Presenting Distinguished Irish Drama,” and the Lucille Lortel Award for “Outstanding Body of Work,” The Irish Rep has celebrated the very best in Irish theatre, from the masters to the new generation of Irish and Irish-American writers who are transforming the stage.  On average, nearly 40,000 audience members annually attend productions at the theatre located in the heart of Chelsea in New York City. Once there, they witness The Irish Rep’s engaging perspective on the Irish and their unique contributions to the world of drama.