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The Afflicted: Solas Nua, a roving District theater company devoted to staging lesser-known plays from Ireland.
Diagnosis: A stolen national identity. Solas Nua has found that making the Emerald Isle’s lesser-knowns better-known has resulted in some unwanted exposure—from other theater companies. “Ireland is a small island, and we only stage contemporary work, so we have a very limited pool of talent to draw from,” says Solas Nua producing director Dan Brick, 32. “But now that we’ve established name recognition for these playwrights [in D.C.], the other companies become aware of them, and they’re starting to drain from that pool.”
Symptoms: Erin-go-overexposure. Brick claims that Solas Nua was the first to introduce Irish playwrights Mark O’Rowe and Enda Walsh to District stages. Now, bigger companies like the Studio Theatre have begun securing rights to stage the playwrights’ works; Solas Nua and Studio are both currently seeking the rights to Walsh’s latest, The Walworth Farce. “We consider playwrights like O’Rowe and Walsh to be our base,” says Brick. “I want to say, ‘Please, just leave us this! We don’t produce anything else!’”
Treatment: Play up your authenticity—and work connections across the pond. “I’m thrilled to see those playwrights get more exposure, because we think they’re brilliant,” says Brick. “But we also would like to believe that we’re in a better position to be true to their material because we’re the only company run by an Irish person.” (Solas Nua artistic director Linda Murray, 31, hails from Dublin.) Being on a first-name basis with the playwright doesn’t hurt, either. “We know Enda, and we have a good relationship with him,” says Brick. “But he’s also growing in recognition, and securing the rights to his new work is still an uphill battle.”
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