The Rochester Community Players

Irish Players of Rochester

The Irish Players of Rochester is a program of the Rochester Communitry Players, founded in 1997 by Peter Scribner. The program presents one play each spring of Irish or Irish-American playwrights. After performing locally, we take our production 'on the road' to the Acting Irish International Theatre Festival (AIITF.)  In recent years, our Irish Players program has performed in Florida, Chicago, and Milwaukee, as well as in Canada in Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal and in Dublin, Ireland. In 2008, we hosted the AIITF in Rochester.  In 2014, the AIITF will be held in South Florida. Starting in the Fall of 2014, we will be adding a second Irish Players production to our calendar.

Irish Players March 2015: The Field

The Irish Players program of the Rochester Community Players have completed the auditions for our spring production, The Field, a play by John B. Keane, to be directed by Jean Gordon Ryon. The audition turnout was amazing and very gratifying; we thank everyone who participated. The cast list for The Field is as follows:

Leamy: Kiefer Shenk
Bird: Marty Brancato
Mick: Ken Dauer
Maggie: Barbara Lobb
Maimie: Kathy Dauer
Bull: Bill Alden
Tadhg: Tyler Lucero
Sergeant Leahy: Matt Ames
William Dee: Greg Ludek
Dandy McCabe: John Jaeger
Mrs. McCabe: Karen Mason
Father Murphy: Robert Shea

Archives: Spring 2014:

RCP's Irish Players presented Shining City, by Conor McPherson, March 14-29, 2014 at  MuCCC Theater, 142 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester NY.

We then presented the play at the Acting Irish International Theatre Festival, held at the Art Garage in Delray Beach, Florida, May 21, 2014. The production was very well received and a wonderful time was had by all. Ours was one of three productions nominated for best production at the festival, and our Bill Alden, playing "John" received the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role.

The nominees and winners of the awards at the AIITF 2014, hosted by Irish Theatre of Florida, were as follows:

AIITF 2014 Award nominations and awards

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role:
Cecilia Walsh (Lucilla Desmond) The Irish Dracula (Florida)
Annya Bright (Mina Murray) The Irish Dracula (Florida)
Carol McQuarrie (Beth) The House Keeper (Winnipeg)
Winner: Annya Bright

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role:
Cathal Moroney (Dave) Brighton (Dublin)
Bill Alden (John) Shining City (Rochester)
Toby Barton (Tadhg) The Irish Dracula (Florida)
Winner: Bill Alden

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role:
Neasa McCann (Lilly) Brighton (Dublin)
Joan End (Patricia) These Halcyon Days (Milwaukee)
Vera Kelly (Mary Conlon) The Butterfly of Killybegs (Chicago Gaelic Park)
Winner: Vera Kelly

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role:
Eamonn O’Neill (Sean) These Halcyon Days (Milwaukee)
Jerod Blake (Jake Quinn and other characters) Stones in his Pocket (Calgary
Bernard Boland (Hal) The Housekeeper (Winnipeg)
Winner: Eamonn O’Neill

Adjudicator award:
for “Best new play”: Tho’ It Were Ten Thousand Miles: A Love Story (Cincinnati)

Best Production:
Shining City (Rochester)
These Halcyon Days (Milwaukee)
Brighton (Dublin)
Winner: These Halcyon Days

Archives: from our March 2013 production of Is Life Worth Living?

The story: The script for the original play, written in 1933, contains the following story description by the playwright, which can hardly be improved upon (edited slightly to avoid a spoiler alert!):

"Inish is a small seaside town in Ireland, of not much importance save for the three summer months, when it is a point of attraction for people seeking sea breezes and a holiday. Usually the Summer theatrical season at Inish has consisted of rude, low comedy, but this year John Twohig, the innkeeper and the pavilion proprietor, has imported a troupe of earnest Thespians. Hector De La Mare and Constance Constantia, who head the troupe, mean to shake Inish out of its local complacence by acting dramas that anatomize the soul of man. They succeed fearfully.

"Inish abandons the jig for the dances of death. Simple folk who have been normal for years begin to develop hidden sorrows or wild passions; they throw themselves with despair into the sea, hurl lamps at their wives and buy poison to murder their relatives. The climax comes when the local member of Dail Eireann, the Irish Parliament, a politician normally lacking any imagination, is temped to vote against the government as a result of what he has learned from Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People". With Inish going violently to pieces all about him, John Twohig must make a momentous decision: how to make everyone feel jolly again?"

The Irish Players program of the Rochester Community Players may feel the sting of Lennox' satire a little more closely than most. For the past several years, we have been the producers of "serious" Irish theater, from Waiting for Godot (2004) to last year's Eugene O'Neill masterpiece, A Moon for the Misbegotten (see "About the Irish Players", below). So, in some ways, in a play about the baleful effect of all-too-serious drama, the joke's on us!

Is Life Worth Living? has undergone a modern revival, with a 2009 New York City production and a 2012 production in Austin. For more about the play itself, and these recent productions, see the online link resource links below.

The cast: A Rochester all-star line-up has been cast in this production. Greg Ludek and Kathy Dauer (pictured above) play the leaders of the visiting dramatic troupe, Hector De La Mare and Constance Constantia. Greg is one of the leading community theater actors in Rochester, both with our program (he was the lead in both Waiting for Godot and A Moon for the Misbegotten) as well as with Blackfriars, Downstairs Cabaret, Irondequoit Theatre Guild, JCC Center Stage, Off Monroe Players, Penfield Players, RAPA, Rochester Children’s Theatre, Shipping Dock, TYKEs, the Webster Theatre Guild and others. Kathy has appeared repeatedly in our Irish Players productions, from Da, the production we took to Montreal in 2000, to A Moon for the Misbegotten, which we staged in Dublin last year. There are many other veteran Rochester actors in the cast (see the full cast list below.)

The cast list for Is Life Worth Living is as follows:

Lizzie.: Kathy Rivers
Helena: Kate Sherman
Eddie: Edward Coomber
John: Morey Fazzi
Constance: Kathy Dauer
Hector: Greg Ludek
Annie: Stephanie Roosa
Peter: Ken Dauer
Michael: Marty Brancato
Mr. Hegarty: Tony Eckel
Slattery: Andrew Cowen
Mooney: Don Bartalo
Christine: Virginia Monte

Our production of Is Life Worth Living? was staged at the 2013 Acting Irish International Theatre Festival (AIITF), held at Gaelic Park, Chicago, May 21-25. Eight theater groups from the United States, Canada and Ireland presented full-length productions at the 2013 festival (see AIITF link below.) Our production was staged Thursday evening, May 23 at 8:00 PM. Our Irish Players productions have participated in the AIITF since 2003, and have won top awards three times. We have staged the best of Rochester theater in Dublin, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Milwaukee, Chicago, and South Florida. We hosted the AIITF here in Rochester in 2008.

Online resources:

2009 New York production at the Mint Theater:
NY Times review
NY Times readers comments
Village Voice review
Curtain Up review
Talkin' Broadway review
A Boat Against the Current review

2012 production: Different Stages (Austin, TX)
Austin Chronicle review

About Lennox Robinson:

About the Acting Irish International Theatre Festival:
AIITF Web site

About the Rochester Community Players:
RCP Web site
Wikipedia - Production history