Defying Brain Tumor, Actress Nancy Walsh Stars in Off-Broadway Play Cincinnati

News   Defying Brain Tumor, Actress Nancy Walsh Stars in Off-Broadway Play Cincinnati
When Nancy Walsh performed in Don Nigro's play Cincinnati at the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a local paper said she gave "the performance of her life." The praise was double-edged, for just weeks before Walsh had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
Nancy Walsh, of 78th Street Theatre Lab's Cincinnati.
Nancy Walsh, of 78th Street Theatre Lab's Cincinnati.

Today, Walsh continues to battle her illness with art. She will bring her Edinburgh triumph to Off-Broadway Oct. 30, when Cincinnati begins performances at 78th Street Theatre Lab (236 West 78th Street). Directing is Walsh's husband, John Clancy, the founder and former artistic director of the New York International Fringe Festival.

Walsh was rehearsing Cincinnati in preparation for the Edinburgh engagement when she suddenly fainted. An examination found the tumor. She underwent surgery, but determined with Clancy to forge ahead with the play. The section of the play she had memorized before her diagnosis remained etched in her mind. The remainder of the text, however, was commanded to memory only through great effort.

Her Edinburgh performance drew acclaim and a Fringe First award from the influential newspaper, The Scotsman, as well as the Jack Tinker Spirit of the Fringe Award and a Best Actress nomination by The Stage. Clancy won the Herald Angel Award for directing. Walsh has since continued to undergo chemotherapy.

Nigro's play concerns Susan, a philosophy professor facing madness. In the play she confronts "grief, guilt and the fact that she's no longer in control of her own thoughts." according to press information.

Walsh and Clancy were both founding members of the Present Company, the troupe that helped launch the New York Fringe, and still produces the festival. Clancy has previously directed Walsh in Brian Parks Vomit and Rose and Wolverine Dream, as well as the resulted pairing of the two comedies, Americana Absurdum, Walsh's quality of wholesome sincerity providing a sly complement to Parks' darkly sardonic language and situations. Absurdum also had great success in Edinburgh. Performances continue through Nov. 22. Tickets are $20. Call Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or online at

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