By Kenneth Jones
12 Feb 2007
In the past 19 years, The Irish Repertory Theatre has presented major works by O'Casey, Synge, Shaw, Wilde, Dion Boucicault, Brendan Behan, Dylan Thomas and Samuel Beckett, as well as the contemporary artistry of Hugh Leonard, Frank McCourt, Tom Murphy, Brian Friel, Peter Sheridan, Patricia Burke Brogan, Pat McCabe, Geraldine Aron, Jennifer Johnston, Tommy Makem, Shivaun O'Casey, Enda Walsh and Harold Prince.
The Irish Repertory Theatre received the 2005 Lucille Lortel "Outstanding Body of Work" award and won the New York Drama Desk Award for "Excellence in Presenting Distinguished Irish Drama." In 1995, The Irish Repertory Theatre moved to its present location on West 22nd Street, New York City.
The Jujamcyn cash award comes at a good time: IRT is currently undertaking a six million dollar capital campaign to purchase its theatre, rehearsal studio and administrative offices.
In announcing the award, Landesman said, "For nearly two decades, The Irish Repertory Theatre has achieved distinction because it has been true to a unique mission, one that is sometimes lost on our increasingly global world. As New York becomes ever more peopled with new and different immigrant groups, it's important to remember that there was a time, not so long ago, when it was the Irish, along with the Italians and the Jews, who were building a new America. The Irish brought poetry, passion, a thirst for independence and a lust for life that spoke most brilliantly through the words of their dramatists. The Irish Rep has given voice to those words, and to the words of the next generation, even including the Irish American playwright we claim as our own — Eugene O'Neill. From Synge and O'Casey to modern masters like Brian Friel, The Irish Rep does the work, and, most important, does it with authenticity, with authority. This makes them a priceless resource in a city dedicated to celebrating each culture that puts down roots here."
IRT's leaders Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O'Reilly stated, "This remarkably generous and supportive gift from the Jujamcyn Organization will enable us to continue our pursuit of excellence. Our goals will not waiver and our appreciation knows no bounds."
Irish Rep's current show is Meet Me in St. Louis, which ends an extended run Feb. 18. The American premiere of Defender of the Faith by Stuart Carolyn is the next production in the season line-up and begins previews on March 1. The Irish Repertory Theatre also hosts a New Works Reading Series to support new plays and emerging playwrights. All readings are free and open to the public.
Created in 1984, The Jujamcyn Theaters Award is given annually to a resident theater organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent for the theatre. Previous recipients have been The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, American Repertory Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum, Second Stage, The Foundation of the Dramatists Guild Young Playwrights Festival, The Guthrie Theater, The New York Shakespeare Festival, Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre, The Alliance for New American Musicals, The Market Theater in South Africa, New York Stage and Film Company, American Conservatory Theatre, City Center Encores!, Atlantic Theater Company, Penumbra Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Labyrinth Theater Company, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and The New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Jujamcyn Theaters owns and operates five Broadway theatres: the St. James, the Al Hirschfeld, the August Wilson, the Walter Kerr and the Eugene O'Neill.
Rocco Landesman, Paul Libin, Jack Viertel and Jordan Roth are the company's president, producing director, creative director, and vice-president, respectively. Jerry Zaks is the company's resident director.