Here's the press release that announced Sharon's most recent show
The Charlestown Working
from the Irish Countryside
photography by James Higgins
The Charlestown Working Theater is pleased to present Sharon Kennedy in her fifth performance at the CWT in nine years. This two-part program brings together comical stories Ms. Kennedy collected in Ireland and the tragic account of the Pemberton Mill disaster which occurred in Lawrence, MA in 1860.
"Comedy from the Irish Countryside and Tragedy from Lawrence, Massachusetts"
is performed March 14-16 and March 21-23. Performances Fridays and Saturdays are at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm
Tickets $15.00, $12.00 for
seniors and students
Reservations and information: 617.242.3285
Presented by the Charlestown Working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, MA.
Wheelchair accessible Accessible by MBTA Orange Line, Sullivan Station
The first of this two-part program features jokes and comical stories collected in Ireland by Ms. Kennedy during the summer of 1987. As Ms. Kennedy traveled through the countryside she learned stories at the feet of elderly seanachies (storytellers) who were eager to tell her the ancient stories passed down to them in the oral tradition. These stories include the bawdy "Hired Hand" told to Ms. Kennedy by storyteller Myles Dolan in County Fermanagh, and "Peter Glooscap" told by John Campbell of County Armagh. "The Dead Man's Return", from the same county, is a hilarious romp of a tale concerning a wife who pays the local priest with a pig in exchange for the assurance of marriage to a new man on the same day her husband is believed found dead. When her husband "returns from the dead" - trouble. "I'm A Catholic Not A Protestant" also focuses on a couple in a big hurry to get married (for very different reasons). Again the parish priest assists. And in "The Mirror" (the only one of these stories Ms. Kennedy has performed in concert here in the States), the story once more concerns itself with sex, jealousy, marriage and the ubiquitous parish priest.
The program's second half features Ms. Kennedy's talents as a performer of historical presentations of 19th century Irish immigrants. She has been commissioned to write and perform ten historical or cultural performances, with subjects ranging from Yankee mill girls from Maine to the tension between Irish and Latino immigrants in Northeast cities today. Primarily, however, Ms. Kennedy's performances have focused on the mid-19th century Irish community in New England.
"The Pemberton Mill Disaster", commissioned by the American Textile Museum now located in Lowell, MA, and is about the collapse of the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence, MA on January 10, 1860. Eighty-eight mill workers died in this catastrophe, and a large majority of these workers were recent Irish immigrants. Kennedy introduces the fictional Callahan family as the focal point of the story. Kennedy dramatically illustrates what each member of the Callahan family, Julia, Michael and their three daughters, was doing at the time of the initial fire, and takes the audience through the subsequent tragedy when the mill is entirely engulfed in flames and ultimately collapses. Ms Kennedy also explores the aftermath of this tragedy, and how it affected not just Lawrence, but the entire country.
The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune called this performance "more than just a theater play. The characters and their fates seem familiar because they were based on true experience." The Lowell Sun said, "A tale that brought tears and laughter--- The audience was transfixed."
Sharon Kennedy is well known as a collector and performer of traditional tales from Ireland. She performs locally and nationally at schools, libraries, coffeehouses, theaters, and storytelling festivals. She has been a headliner at the Pacific Storytelling Festival in California and at the Connecticut Storytelling Festival. She has been featured in Yankee Magazine and on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America." A Rounder recording artist, two of Sharon's CDs have both won Parent's Choice Gold Awards. Her second CD for Rounder, "The Patchwork Quilt," was the first storytelling recording to ever be nominated for a Grammy Award.
©2003 Sharon Kennedy and the Charlestown Working Theater. Reprinting by news organizations is welcome.