The struggle of women trying to move up/out
Photo by Nick Drakides
Laura Knight and Aedin Moloney in Talent.
By Davida Singer
In classic Downtown style, Aedin Moloney runs her fledging theater company, Fallen Angel, from the home/office she shares with jazz musician boyfriend Nick Drakides in the East Village. With founder Moloney serving as atistic director/producer, best friend John Keating directing and Drakidis taking care of music, the home-spun company is ready to roll. Their inaugural production, Talent, goes up at The Producers Club on Sept. 9.
I started putting this together after 25 years in theater as an actor, says Moloney, who also co-starred in Nora opposite Ewen McGregor, and has been in New York since 1994. I come from a literary and musical background, [her father, Paddy Moloney, founded the Celtic band The Chieftans], so Im very much in touch with writing, and quite passionate about it. Ive found there arent so many female writers allowed in, so this company is for contemporary British and Irish female writers especially, at least to begin with. Ive done a lot at the Irish Rep and they do beautiful work, but the audience is older and not so daring. So I thought, what better way to educate than to bring in some fresh energy?
Talent was written in the late 1970s by British comedienne/playwright/actor Victoria Wood, a huge star in England, whose work has never been seen here.
Shes so established, I couldnt believe I got the rights, said Moloney. Talent is a simple, poignant piece about amateur talent shows. Its set in the 1980s in the north of England, and is about wannabe Julie and her best friend, Maureen. But its really more to do with blue-collar ideas of moving up in the world. Women in their early 20s, coming of age, and it also involves some backstage characters. Its a comedy with sad moments as well.
Why did Moloney choose this particular play?
First of all, its a lighter piece, a good one to begin with, and easy to produce, she explained. Then Wood is somewhat like Tracy Ullman, with very British humor. And theres music in this piano and singing often as inner monologues. Its really a kind of satire. And because Im acting in the play as well, I get to work with two amazing older actors John Reighton and Alfred Myslop. Plus, theres Laura Knight in the lead. Shes American, but she really gets the grittiness of Julies character. John [Keating] has also been very much involved with this choice. Weve worked together for 9 years, and hes been so insightful and understanding of both the piece and the actors involved.
According to the artistic director, the backstage set for Talent is very basic, because with quality writing and acting, thats all you need. Going uptown to the Producers Club was also all about the fit, the theater-upstairs-in-a-pub, faded velvet back room feel, not unlike the fringe theaters in Dublin and London where she worked in the 1980s. Future Fallen Angel productions are slated for various venues Downtown.
Im hoping people will leave this show feeling they got their moneys worth, and with the same spark and excitement they used to get from New York theater, Moloney said. I sense theres a struggle going on right now, and even a depression related to the arts here. So the city is badly in need of new companies with contemporary work thats full of energy. Id like to inject some of that vibrancy from current theater in England and Ireland.
Being an Irish woman, I feel the power of what we as women can do, she added. Also, I think theres room for so much more to be seen on stage here. Theres a transition in process in contemporary Ireland and England. I want to show that to a younger, multi-cultural audience and really get them fired up. Then we can take it from there.