5:30 - 8:00
New York City’s Irish Repertory Theatre and Dublin, Ireland's Fishamble: The New Play Company have joined together to create the Transatlantic Commissions Program, a year-long program aiming to address the historic marginalization of artists of color in the Irish canon. Together, Fishamble and Irish Rep have commissioned four Black Irish artists and writers for the inaugural group: CN Smith, Felicia Olusanya (also known as Felispeaks), Jade Jordan and Kwaku Fortune.
The inaugural cohort is comprised of Felispeaks, Kwaku Fortune, Jade Jordan and CN Smith. These writers spent a year under the mentorship of the Obie Award-winning playwright and Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith (Yellowman, Until the Flood). Orlandersmith adds, “I am thrilled to be a part of the Diaspora of new work and new voices. It’s a privilege.”
Playwright notes on Transatlantic Commissions Programme plays
89 by Jade Jordan
89 is set in Dublin, a woman “Christine Buckley” relives her story as she tells it aloud for the first time. We hear of industrial abuse, abandonment, seeking, incorrect information… while abuse was at the core of it all inflicted by evil. This play is honest, not easy to digest but has to be heard.
I always felt stories like Christine’s should be told… as hard as the stories are to hear. I just remember as a child the movement that happened in Ireland when Christine spoke out. She was part of a massive shift in this country and saved a lot of people’s lives. Christine gave permission to the people and that I believe is an outstanding achievement.
BENT! by Felispeaks
BENT! Is a Black Irish story of a young woman, Shayo, and her attempt to find and understand her purpose by achieving balance within herself. Shayo’s life has been influenced by well meaning masculine energies; such as her father. Shayo’s journey to finding balance is dotted with inspiration from Yoruba mythology and the universal elements of Air, Fire and Water. Through the integration of these elements, she has now decided she must take control of her own life and find her purpose.
The Black Wolfe Tone by Kwaku Fortune
My play is about muddled identity. A son who let down a father and how trauma can be passed down generation to generation. It's about the mind, and how young men deal, or don't deal, with the darkness. It's about a culture of silence and raging against the machine. At its heart, it's about a young boy seeking forgiveness, the inner child wanting only to be loved.
Felicia Olusanya (FELISPEAKS) is a Nigerian-Irish Poet, Performer and Playwright from Co. Longford; currently based in Dublin City. FELISPEAKS has been nominated ‘Best Performer’ by Dublin Fringe Festival Sep. 2018. As well as being a Member of the Poetry Ireland Board of Directors appointed June 2020, Felicia is a member of the Poetry Collective. Felicia Olusanya (FELISPEAKS) - Website | Felicia Olusanya (FELISPEAKS) - Twitter | Felicia Olusanya (FELISPEAKS) - Instagram
CN Smith is a playwright and director from County Louth. He holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Lir Academy and is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where he directed Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (Samuel Beckett Theatre, 2019), and Eden (ISDA, 2019). Writing work includes the radio play Ode to a Postcode (Dublin Fringe, 2019), and At the Very Beginning (Civic Theatre, 2020/21), both written for young audiences. CN Smith - Twitter | CN Smith - Instagram
Kwaku Fortune will next appear on our screens as Josh Ola alongside Angeline Ball, Peter Coonan and Simone Kirby in Hidden Assets directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan; Redemption directed by John Hayes for ITV; and Burn It All opposite Toni O'Rourke, directed by Jack Hickey. He has most recently been cast as Ray in The Beauty Queen Of Leenane directed by Rachel O'Riordan for the Lyric Hammersmith & Chichester Festival Theatre, and as the voice of “Gael” in the Skydance / Apple+ animated feature Luck. Fortune trained at the Lír Academy, Dublin (in association with RADA). He is highly skilled in football & motocross and has some boxing experience. Kwaku Fortune - Twitter
Jade Jordan is a mixed-race Irish actor and author of Nanny, Ma & Me. She studied screen acting at Dublin’s Bow Street Academy. She will appear in a number of productions, including Kate Dolan’s feature filmYou are not my Mother, Shaun Dunne’s film documentary How to tell a Secret and as a writer and producer of her own short film The Colour Between. Her theatrical appearances include Citysong & Dear Ireland for the Abbey Theatre, Coole Park Poetry Series & Four Days in July for Druid Theatre Company. Jade Jordan - Twitter | Jade Jordan - Instagram