ABOUT SOLAS NUA
Solas Nua - ‘new light’ in Irish, is a leading multidisciplinary arts organization that is dedicated exclusively to contemporary Irish arts. Based in Washington, D.C., our mission is to bring the best of contemporary Irish arts to U.S. audiences.
Solas Nua acts as an ambassador and advocate for Irish arts in the U.S., promoting contemporary Irish culture, multi-disciplinary arts and creativity. By offering new opportunities for artists based in both Ireland and the U.S., Solas Nua provides access and inclusion for artists and audiences to connect and participate on both sides of the Atlantic. We commission, produce and present thought-provoking and ground-breaking work across the arts and are recognized in Washington, D.C. and beyond for making a substantial, unique contribution to the artistic and cultural richness of the city. We present work that is cross-cultural, representing today’s Ireland - a contemporary, globally diverse society. Our programming reflects how Irish culture is shared across borders, ethnicity, and economic lines.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Dennis Houlihan - Chair
Tom McIntyre - Vice President
Kate Meenan-Waugh - Secretary
Mike Kirlin - Treasurer
Philippa B. Hughes
MAZ AND BRICKS
By Eva O’Connor
Directed by Rex Daugherty
Choreography - Ashleigh King
Co-Choreography - Rex Daugherty
Lighting Design - Helen Garcia-Alton
Scenic Design/Technical Director - Nadir Bey
Sound Design - Gordon Nimmo-Smith
Stage Manager - Samantha Leahan
Assistant Stage Manager - Mary Doebel
Master Electrician - Dean Leong
Electrician - Matthew Schreyer
Carpenters - Holden Gunster and Anthony Frank
Assistant Producer/Dramaturg/Costume Stylist - Charlotte La Nasa
Emily Kester* - Maz
Jonathan Feuer* - Bricks
*Appear courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association
Content Advisory - this play includes discussions of suicidal events and sex abuse, and depictions of a suicidal event. Suicide is preventable and help is available. If you or a loved one needs help, don’t hesitate to call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline - 800-273-8255 or DC Suicide and Crisis Interventrion Hotline (800) 784-2433
When I first read Maz and Bricks I was immediately captivated by the energy and style of Eva O’Connor’s writing, as well as the personal approach to a difficult subject matter. The play offers a unique blend of genre, with both natural dialogue scenes as well as highly stylized, heightened language soliloquies, almost in slam poetry form. Using this hybrid language of theatricality, Eva takes us into a deeply personal story that deals with the lighting-rod issue of abortion.
And this is where the play shines – because what theatre does best is bring greater humanity into hard-to-reach places. While abortion is one of the most polarizing topics in our society, this play isn’t a debate – it’s a lens into how this issue deeply affects our relationships.
The creative team and I were delighted to work with such rich material, and I’m immensely proud of what has come from our highly collaborative process. In addition to Emily and Jonathan’s dynamic performances, look for stylized staging and design that underscores the power of Eva’s poetic, explosive language.
The story is surprisingly (and masterfully) more about facing your own trauma than it is about any particular issue. I found Maz and Bricks so compelling not because of any political view but because these two characters are so recognizably human. They laugh, they rage, they goof off, they’re awkward and insecure, they don’t know how to be vulnerable, even though deep down they just want to be known and loved. Isn’t that all of us?
I hope you enjoy the show but more than that – I hope you see yourself in this story.
Solas Nua is generously supported by The DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, Culture Ireland, The Government of Ireland, The Northern Ireland Bureau, The Share Fund and Aer Lingus.
This production of Maz and Bricks was additionally supported by Holly Hassett, Cary Kelly, Elizabeth Ralston, Susy and Kevin Murphy and Aging Well Eldercare.
Special thanks to The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, Prologue Theater, Bethany Taylor and Benjamin Harvey of the Georgetown University Davis Performing Arts Center, Dan Deiter of West Potomac High School, Paige Hathaway, Thomas Keegan, Maya Jackson, Marianne Meadows, the wonderful staff at The Atlas Performing Arts Center.
Eva O’Connor (Playwright) - Eva O’Connor is an Irish writer and performer based in London. During her time studying English and German at Edinburgh University, Eva founded Sunday’s Child Theatre Company, and has since written and produced a number of plays with the company. Most recently, Sunday’s Child co-hosted Future Limerick, a climate change arts festival, where they performed Afloat, co-written by Eva and her long term collaborator Hildegard Ryan.
Eva’s play Maz and Bricks, commissioned by Fishamble Theatre Company, opened in Dublin in 2017 followed by a tour of Ireland (in the run up to the referendum to repeal the 8th), the Edinburgh Fringe and a successful run in New York at E59E59. She is currently writing a second play for Fishamble, and the company are supporting Mustard at Edinburgh 2022, Eva's one woman play won a Fringe First and a Lustrum Award at Edinburgh 2019. Eva was invited to write a short piece, Maxwell House, in 2020 as part of the Abbey Theatre’s Dear Ireland programme.
Eva’s Award-winning TV adaptation (co-written with Hildegard) of her play Overshadowed was broadcast on BBC 3 and together they have a number of original television projects in development with UK producers. In 2018 Eva was named as one of Broadcast’s Hot Shots, which celebrated the outstanding work of women under 30 making waves in the TV industry. In January 2022 Eva was shortlisted for RTE's new writing TV scheme Storyland.
Emily Kester (Maz) - Solas Nua debut. Signature Theatre: Detroit ‘67; Ford's Theatre: Silent Sky; Olney Theatre Center: Labour of Love; Studio Theatre: The Hard Problem, Edgar and Annabel; Theater J: The Last Schwartz; Everyman Theatre: The Revolutionists, Noises Off; Constellation Theatre: Equus; Rorschach Theatre: She Kills Monsters; NextStop Theatre: Eurydice; Imagination Stage: Anatole: Mouse Magnifique!, Davy Copperfield, The Little Mermaid, The BFG, 101 Dalmatians, and Double Trouble. Training: University of North Carolina at Greensboro. www.emilykester.com
Jonathan Feuer (Bricks) - Solas Nua: The Rabbi Doctor Silver (co-commission with Theater J). Shakespeare Theatre Company: Richard the Third, As You Like It; Signature Theatre: John; Mosaic Theater Company: Charm; Rep Stage: Antigone Project; Theater J: The Call; Kennedy Center TYA: How to Catch a Star, Flowers Stink; Imagination Stage: Charlotte’s Web, The Freshest Snow Whyte; Prologue Theatre: Recent Tragic Events; The Hub Theatre: Redder Blood; Forum Theatre: Passion Play, The ‘T’ Party, 9 Circles; Keegan Theatre: A Few Good Men; Adventure Theatre MTC: A Little House Christmas; Quotidian Theatre Company: A Little Trick, Talking Pictures; Studio 2ndStage: Astro Boy & the God of Comics. MFA: The Academy for Classical Acting at GW. jonathanfeuer.com
Ashleigh King (Choreographer) is a DC-based director, choreographer, actor, and teaching artist. A recipient of the Helen Hayes Award for her choreography of Legally Blonde at Keegan Theater and a directing fellow for Jenn Weber and MEP working on Hip Hop Nutcracker. Recent projects have included; directing Little Women the Musical for MCCM SDT, choreographer of Spamalot at Northern Stage, direction and choreography for the world premiere of Make Way for Ducklings at Adventure Theater MTC, assisting on the world premiere of the Broadway-bound musical, Grace, at Ford’s Theater, Working the musical (Labor Heritage Foundation), Teenage Dick (Woolly Mammoth and Huntington Stage), Head Over Heels (JMU), Fairview (Woolly Mammoth). Much of her time in DC has also been spent on area stages in multiple productions at The Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theater, Olney Theater, Signature Theater, and Studio Theater.
Helen Garcia-Alton (Lighting Designer) is elated to be working with Solas Nua on this fantastic piece. After moving back to the DMV with her MFA from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville last Spring, she has continued to forge new relationships with theatre companies and is happily living the dream with her feline familiar by her side (love to Ms. Fowly). Upcoming projects include: Lucky Stiff with NextStop Theatre Company, Dot with Cockpit in Court and Kiss Me Mr. Musk with Single Carrot Theatre. helengarcia-alton.com.
Nadir Bey (Scenic Designer/Technical Director) is a Scene designer and Scenic artist who received his BFA from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). DC based. He loves to challenge the main canon of theater, turning performances into all inclusive and immersive experiences. Selected Credits include Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner (Brown), The Agitators (Theater at Monmouth), and The Bacchae 2.1 (Hangar). Upcoming: The Playboy of the Western World with Solas Nua.
Gordon Nimmo-Smith (Sound Designer) is a Maryland-based production manager, video editor and sound designer. Previous Solas Nua credits include Little Thing, Big Thing and In the Middle of the Fields. Other local sound designs include The Revolutionists (Prologue Theatre); The 39 Steps, Caucasian Chalk Circle (Helen Hayes Nomination), Avenue Q (Constellation Theatre Company); The Toxic Avenger, Sing to Me Now (Rorschach Theatre); Marie and Rosetta (Mosaic Theater Company); Legally Blonde, Hands on a Hardbody, Chicago (Keegan Theatre); Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible...Day (Adventure Theatre MTC). Gordon is the Audio/Video Supervisor for the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Thanks to Alex, Mairi, and Mac the dog.
Samantha Leahan (Stage Manager) is thrilled to bring Maz & Bricks to life for DC audiences to enjoy. Sam’s most recent productions have been: Show Way (Kennedy Center TYA), White Christmas, Shirley Valentine, Nina Simone: Four Women, The Importance of Being Earnest, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Shrek The Musical, Outside Mullingar (Berkshire Theatre Group). Lots of love to her friends and family! @SMSam413
Mary Doebel (Assistant Stage Manager) is a professional actor and a proud graduate of The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts acting program and advanced program. Mary has written, directed, and acted in her own play, produced 5 short films, was the lead in an immersive play and she was the director for a 48 Hour Film Festival submission. Mary worked as a production specialist at Better Together Media where she learned how to harness her talents in videography, graphic work, video editing and lighting set-up's. Mary is currently working as a stage manager/assistant stage manager for shows such as N, An Irish Carol and Yoga Play at Keegan Theatre where she has learned the value of working behind the scenes in theater work. This is Mary’s first show with Solas Nua and is so excited to be a part of this wonderful team!
Charlotte La Nasa (Assistant Producer, Dramaturg & Costume Designer) is a theater maker based in DC and Associate Artistic Director at NextStop Theatre Company in Herndon, VA. Directing credits include: The Garden Script Development, Anacostia Playhouse, Rorschach Theater Company’s Kleksography, Mosaic Theater Company’s #Enough Festival and Shepherd University, as well as assistant directing at Olney Theater Center, Contemporary American Theater Festival and American Shakespeare Center. She has served as a new play dramaturg at Contemporary American Theater Festival, Prologue Theatre Company, 4615 Theater Company's DMV Q-Fest and The Garden Script Development. Her work as a playwright has been developed with Adventure Theater in Glen Echo, Maryland. Before coming to DC, Charlotte served in an inaugural role as the first full time theater director at Saint James School in Hagerstown, MD.
Rex Daugherty (Director/Co-choreographer) is a DC based theatre artist and has served as the Artistic Director of Theatre at Solas Nua since 2015. During his tenure, Rex has garnered international acclaim for Solas Nua and earned multiple Helen Hayes Awards and nominations for their productions. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, on the cover of American Theatre Magazine, The Irish Times and aired on RTÉ - Irish TV. Recently, his one-man show The Smuggler was listed by The New York Times as one of the best theatre productions of 2019, nationwide. As an actor, he has performed at The Kennedy Center, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, The National Theatre, The Warner Theatre, Ford's Theatre, Signature Theatre, Round House Theatre, Folger Theatre, Rep Stage, Solas Nua, and Off Broadway at 59E59. Daugherty has received three Helen Hayes nominations as part of Outstanding Ensembles and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association. Directing credits include: Wild Sky, Little Thing, Big Thing, Coolatully, Misterman, 👨🏾💻😷🧑🏼💻 (“Emoji Play”), Side-Walks (Solas Nua); Night Falls on the Blue Planet (Theater Alliance); Late: a cowboy song (No Rules Theatre Company); Suite Surrender, The Prince and the Troubadour (1st Stage); Wake Up, Brother Bear (Imagination Stage); Snow Day, BEEP BEEP! (Arts on the Horizon; Yours, Isabel (Edinburgh Fringe); The Book of Will (Oklahoma Shakespeare); The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Electric Chair Gallery); Bad Dates (Wayside Theatre); Angels in America (assistant - Forum Theatre); The Flick, Billy Elliot (assistant - Signature Theatre), Mockingbird (fight director - The Kennedy Center). As a writer and play-maker, his work has been produced regionally for over ten years. Most recently, his musical The Devil & June Gantry was a semifinalist at The Eugene O’Neil Center’s American Music Theatre Festival. BEEP BEEP, written and directed by Rex, earned a Helen Hayes Award Nomination for Outstanding TYA Production. He is currently writing a new musical that will receive a workshop production this summer. Rex shares his life with his wife Lee and their five year old son, Beckett - who likes to crash any Zoom meeting he can. Rex sends his deep thanks to this cast and creative team for sharing their impressive talents on this production. More info at Rex-Daugherty.com
Maz & Bricks is a thoughtful look at a divisive issue, a play whose characters find common ground in the unlikeliest of surroundings – a “Repeal the 8th” rally in Dublin circa 2018. “The Hateful 8th” was an amendment to the Irish constitution that gave the Irish law banning abortion iron clad strength. The successful repeal of the law came about in no small part because of those who spoke out and shared stories. From all too recent and avoidable tragedies making headlines, to ordinary women previously silenced by fear of stigma, to artists like Maz and Bricks playwright Eva O’Connor mobilizing the masses; these voices changed public opinion and made headway for the historic vote to repeal. Here we tell the story of the Eighth Amendment and the events that inspired so many to speak out in solidarity.
The Eighth Amendment
Gave the life of the fetus equal constitutional weight to the life of the pregnant person.
- 1861 Abortion is made a criminal offense in Ireland.
- 1967 The UK legalizes abortion up to 28 weeks.
- 1973 In the U.S., Roe v. Wade establishes the legal right to abortion in all 50 states.
- 1983 Seeing change in abortion legislation abroad, Irish conservatives launch a campaign to protect the ban on abortion in Ireland. A referendum passes the Eighth Amendment into law.
What did it say?
“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life
of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and
vindicate that right” Did it successfully limit abortion? Until the repeal of the Eighth Amendment in
2018, every year around 3,500 people traveled from Ireland to England to terminate their pregnancy.
EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE REPEAL (NAMED IN THE PLAY)
- Anne Lovett - In the spring of 1984, 15 year old Anne Lovett attempted to give birth alone, hiding in a grotto.
She died in labor and her body was found in the grotto, beneath a statue of the virgin Mary.
- The X Case - In 1992 A 14 year old girl, now known as “X”, traveled to the UK to terminate a pregnancy that resulted from rape. The Irish police claimed that doing so was illegal and ordered her to come back to Ireland.
- The C Case - In the fall of 1997 the Eastern Health Board recommended their patient, a thirteen year old girl who was pregnant as a result of rape, be granted travel to the UK to terminate her pregnancy.
- Savitaa Praveen Halappanavar - In October 2012, Savitaa was admitted to hospital with a problematic miscarriage. She requested to terminate the pregnancy, which her consulting physician denied on the grounds that so long as a fetal heartbeat was present, abortion was impossible in Ireland. Savitaa developed severe sepsis and died in hospital because the 8th amendment limited her physicians ability to care for her.
- Ms Y - Ms Y survived rape in her original country, and discovered after arriving in Ireland that she was pregnant and sought an abortion. Despite reporting thoughts of suicide, she was repeatedly denied an abortion. Ms Y was forcibly detained in a maternity ward, and she was effectively forced to undergo cesarean section to give birth.
SOLAS NUA STAFF
Miranda Driscoll - Executive Director is a senior arts manager, multidisciplinary cultural producer/curator and artistic director from Dublin. She was the Director of Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, Co. Cork, Ireland, from 2014-2019 and co-founder and Director of the Joinery; a multidisciplinary art space, Dublin, from 2007-2014. She lectured on the BA Photography program at IADT Dublin from 2011-2014. She has a Masters in Art in the Contemporary World from NCAD, Dublin and a BA in Photography from IADT, Dublin. Miranda’s experience includes strategic development, event production and management, creative partnerships, international, national and community-based initiatives. She has curated, produced and managed over 500 projects, performances, exhibitions and small festivals across the full spectrum of disciplines in Ireland and the US over the last 14 years.
Rex Daugherty - Artistic Director of Theatre (see bio above)
Seán Wrenn - Website & Digital Content Manager/Assistant Producer of CIFF is a native of Grange, County Limerick and has been working professionally in film production for over a decade, covering various production styles, including News, PSA’s, music videos, online video advertising and promotional strategies, bumper reels, comedic and dramatic short films, as well as experimental video art. He was involved in over 200 video productions during his three and a half years as the Co-Director, lead cameraman and webmaster of I Love Limerick Ltd. In April of 2013, Seán was a recipient of a Mayoral reception hosted by Mayor of Limerick Gerry McLoughlin, in honor of his work with I Love Limerick Ltd.and his support of the charitable organizations they worked with in communities throughout Limerick City & County. Seán is the programmer for the CIFF@Home film series.
Coming up Next at Solas Nua:
The Space We Occupy - Visual Arts
Opening at 2 PM on Saturday 09 July and runs until 31 July.
Tuesdays to Saturdays 11 AM - 7 PM. Closed Mondays.
Whittle School & Studios
3400 International Dr NW
Washington, D.C., 20008
An exhibition of work by Irish visual artists Neil Carroll, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Colin Crotty, Katie Holten, Fiona Kelly and George Bolster, curated by Solas Nua’s Executive Director, Miranda Driscoll. Presented by Solas Nua in partnership with the Irish Arts Center, New York.
Yes and Yes - Dance
by Liz Roche Company
September 9 & 10 • 8 PM — BOX OFFICE OPENING SOON
Atlas Performing Arts Center
An extraordinary dance performance inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses. To mark 100 years since the first publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses, one of the most important works of modern literature, Solas Nua has commissioned leading Irish choreographer Liz Roche and her company to create a brand-new dance piece, Yes and Yes, to premiere in Washington DC this September.
Playboy of the Western World - Theatre
US Premiere of a new adaptation by Bisi Adigun and Roddy Doyle
Directed by Shanara Gabrielle
J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World was first staged in the Abbey Theatre in 1907, depicting the humor, colloquialism, and struggle of rural life in the West of Ireland. A hundred years later the story is retold by Nigerian-Irish playwright, Bisi Adigun and one of Ireland’s best-known writers, Roddy Doyle. The original western farmers and villagers are now tough Dublin gangsters. The scallywag, runaway playboy of the story Christy Mahon is re-imagined as Nigerian refugee, Christopher Malomo. This adaptation presents modern-day, urban Ireland and highlights the changes that have occurred in the country, including the issues of immigration, inequality, and urban gangland crime. The script was first commissioned by Adigun’s theatre company, Arambe Productions, Ireland’s first and only African Theatre Company.
PRAISE FOR SOLAS NUA
Recipient of DC Mayor’s Arts Award for INNOVATION IN THE ARTS
Recipient of multiple Helen Hayes Awards and Nominations for our theatre productions
“Best of the year”
— The New York Times
“Catch super stories, haunting sounds and intriguing conversations at Solas Nua”
— The Irish Times
“It exemplifies the International art scene as surely as any one country can”
— The Washington Post
“Ingenious…there is no better group to bring live theatre back to the District”
— Washington City Paper