For The Birds winging to New York

FOR THE Birds, a new play co-authored by Galway-based writer Siobhán Donnellan, is about to receive its premiere at the prestigious New York International Fringe Festival.

Siobhán, who wrote Married To The Sea and Reptilian for Dragonfly Theatre Company, co-wrote For The Birds with American writer Jen Browne who she met while studying in Queens University in Belfast.

The play has been in development since autumn 2009, with many of its original scenes and characters being developed over Skype and email. It is a dark but touching drama that explores family relationships and the connections that really bind people together.

Local actor John O’Dowd, who takes one of the main roles, outlines the play’s main themes.

“I play a blind psychiatric patient called Haulie in 1960s Ireland who forms a deep friendship with a nurse, Ita, played by Siobhán,” he says. “Over time the relationship becomes more intimate and Ita gets pregnant, which leaves her with a dilemma about the child.

“She puts the child up for adoption and it is adopted by a New York couple. Years later Ita starts to mourn the loss of her son and travels to New York where she meets the adoptive mother. It’s a sad story but it’s also quite a beautiful and uplifting piece with a lot of humour and warmth.”

O’Dowd and Donnellan are the only Irish actors featuring in the Fringe line-up and O’Dowd is understandably excited about the prospect of performing in The Big Apple.

“I’m really looking forward to going to New York,” he enthuses. “The fact that we are the Irish representatives in the festival is great and we’re playing in a lovely old historic theatre, the Cherry Lane in Greenwich Village.”

Donnellan has performed at the New York International Fringe Festival before in 2007, winning the Outstanding Actor Award for her performance in Married To The Sea. Expectations will thus be high for For The Birds which receives its premiere on Saturday August 21, running for a week. Plans are also in place for the play to have an Irish run following its stint in New York.

Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777.

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