Off-Broadway's Irish Repertory Theatre has released the lineup for its New Works Fall Festival, set to play November 2 through November 16.
Featuring five new plays that spotlight female voices, the Irish Repertory Theatre’s New Play Development Program provides table readings, staged readings, workshops, and financial commissions for work by Irish and Irish-American people of all ethnicities, genders, abilities, and orientations. For the Fall Festival, Irish Rep has chosen to spotlight female playwrights in response to the gender equality referendum currently proposed to take place in Ireland. The New Works Festival program was launched in June 2023 with the Summer Festival, which spotlighted LGBTQIA+ voices and perspectives.
The proposed referendum would alter Articles 40 and 41 of the Irish Constitution, which contain limiting language referring to a woman's “life within the home” and mothers' “duties within the home.” The referendum is expected to be voted on in 2024 following several delays. Should the referendum pass, it would enshrine gender equity and equality in Ireland's constitution, a first for the country.
The Fall Festival, which is intentionally being staged in November when the referendum was initially supposed to be voted on, is curated by Nicola Murphy Dubey, and will feature plays by Katie Holly, Nancy Harris, Deirdre Kinahan, Meadhbh McHugh, and Ursula Rani Sarma.
Meadhbh McHugh's Helen and I, which centers on two sisters returning to their childhood home in the aftermath of their fathers death, will be presented November 2. On offer November 7 will be A Thousand Splendid Suns by Ursula Rani Sarma, based on Khaled Hosseini's book of the same name. Exploring the lives of a mother and a daughter struggling to endure the escalating danger in Kabul, the power of a woman's love and the generational impact of sacrifice come to the forefront, exploring how love is the key to the soul's survival.
Kate Holly's Her Hand on the Trellis will be presented November 9, following a woman struggling to maintain childlike submission while caring for her ailing mother. November 14 will feature Nancy Harris' The Beacon, set on an island off the coast of Cork where a celebrated artist has attempted to isolate herself from her past, to no avail. Lastly, Deirdre Kinahan's Rathmines Road will be presented November 16. Taking place over the course of a single evening in a tiny room, Rathmines Road deals head on with the engrained cultural response to sexual assault, and the backlash faced by those that dare to reveal their trauma to the public.
Directors, casting, and additional information will be announced at a later date. All readings are free to attend with advance registration. For more information visit IrishRep.org.