Last fall, Solas Nua presented “👨🏾💻😷👨💻”—aka The Emoji Play—”a refreshingly original, boundary-pushing comedy,” wrote DC Metro Theater Arts reviewer Michael Poandl,” that isn’t quite theater, but isn’t not theater either.” The creators of that conceptually inventive work were Dublin-based artist John King and DC-based artist Jeremy Keith Hunter, and their latest trans-Atlantic collaboration is Side-Walks, a 30-minute digital hybrid of literature, animation, and theatrical storytelling that Solas Nua is streaming on demand through August 15, 2021.
Side-Walks is a visual short story about about two young gay men—Connor from Dublin and Jermal from DC—two lost souls trying to find their way out of isolation. As the story alternates perspectives between Dublin and DC, the two characters—voiced by DC actor Da’Von T. Moody and Northern Irish actor Cormac Elliott—search for their place on an ever changing emotional and geographic landscape. Walking along Dublin’s river Liffey, Connor floats through life with no sense of where he’s going. Running from his life next to the Potomac, Jermal tries to outrun a kiss that wasn’t supposed to happen. Directed by Rex Daugherty and designed by Patrick W. Lord, this digital experience brings to life familiar places and personal life passages in a whole new way.
Over the past year, Solas Nua, DC’s award-winning Irish arts organization, commissioned multiple digital new works from King and Hunter. Their previous works, Emoji Play and What’s On Your Walls (co-created with Tẹmídayọ Amay), were featured by The Washington Post as some of the most innovative digital programming in the country.
Artistic Director of Theatre Rex Daugherty shares, “During the pandemic, Solas Nua created a mini-company of artists who devised all of our resident digital work. This was a unique way to have a long-form conversation with the same collaborators, incubating virtual stories together during this unprecedented time. We explored a live, online production with Emoji Play, where audience members texted actors in real time to speak in the digital language of emojis and GIFs. We turned over the narrator role to the audience with What’s on Your Walls, a community storytelling event where the audience became the performers in a show-and-tell style ritual. And now we conclude this cycle with Side-Walks: a visual short story.
“While the design elements are quite rich, the piece is more literary in form than our previous digital plays. It’s the perfect culmination of our virtual laboratory — a new hybrid of multi-disciplinary storytelling. Great art requires artists to be bold in their pursuit of innovation, and I’m proud of what this team has explored together, despite being physically separated by thousands of miles. In fact, most of the team members have never met in person, even after spending a year in rehearsal together! We’ve been able to experiment and test new ideas in a process-based experience that we otherwise might not have been afforded without the pandemic. Building this season of new work with this repertory company has created a companionship that not only stretched our artistic minds, but it might have also been the thing that kept us from totally losing them! Thanks to the artists and audiences who have been with us for this journey.”
Side-Walks streams on demand August 8 to 15, 2021. Running time is approximately 30 minutes. The work is included as part of Solas Nua’s Summer Membership. Individual tickets for nonmembers ($15) are available at solasnua.org.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Jeremy Keith Hunter (playwright) is a multidisciplinary artist with a strong focus in writing, theater and film acting, and graphic design. His most recent written works include Emoji Play (Solas Nua); A Lesson in Physics (Arena Stage; Senior Artistic Director Fellowship, 2016; Bowie State University 2015), Red Solo (Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage 2016); The Nature of Man, (College of Southern Maryland); and Adolescence (Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival 45, Watermelon One-Act Festival). For more information check out: www.iammercury.com
John King (playwright) is a theater-maker from Dublin. His previous work with Solas Nua includes Somewhere in the future dark, Emoji Play, and What’s on Your Walls. His first play ERIS ran for three weeks at the Bunker Theatre in 2018 and is published by Methuen Drama. John is an alumnus of the Royal Court’s Introductory Writers’ Group, and is currently a Resident Artist at FringeLAB, Dublin. Directing credits include Will I Meet You There (Dublin Fringe Festival 2020) Summertime (Abbey Young Curators’ Festival and Drogheda Arts Festival, 2019; Dublin Fringe Festival, 2018), The Overcoat (Omnibus Theatre and OSO Barnes, 2018 and 2017), Pippin (Edinburgh Fringe and ADC Theatre, 2015). John was named by the Irish Times as one of “50 People to Watch in 2021.” He holds an MA from RADA/Birkbeck, and BA in English from the University of Cambridge. www.johnking.ie
Patrick W. Lord (designer) is a designer, storyteller and creative for theater and live events, based in Washington, D.C. His work has been seen all over the country- from world premieres to reinventing classics of both plays and musicals. He has designed premieres at theaters like The Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center from award-winning playwrights like Lauren Gunderson and Finegan Kruckemeyer. He also designed video for multiple productions at Shakespeare Theatre Company, including HAMLET featuring Michael Urie in the title role. He has also designed and creative directed for numerous concerts and special events, working with Grammy award winning musicians at The Kennedy Center and creating special content for clients like the Chicago Bulls, Aflac, and Google. Patrick also joined the video design team to adapt MEAN GIRLS from Broadway for its first national tour. Patrick has a M.F.A. from The University of Texas at Austin and a B.F.A. from Emerson College.
Cormac Elliott (Connor) Training: Birmingham School of Acting. Theater credits include: Emoji Play (Solas Nua); Market Boy (The Ivy Theatre), The Cripple of Inishmaan (The Yardley Theatre), Northhanger Abbey (Tread the Boards), Eris (The Bunker Theatre & The Old Red Lion), B.O.D (The Bunker Theatre), Wildlife (The Old Red Lion), The 4th Country (The Vaults Festival).
Da’Von T. Moody (Jermal) D.C. AREA: Emoji Play (Solas Nua); Signature Theatre: Gun & Powder, Ain’t Misbehavin, Grand Hotel; Ford’s Theatre: The Wiz; A Christmas Carol; Constellation Theatre: Aida! (Mereb); ArtsCentric: Hair (Berger); Toby’s Dinner Theatre: Dreamgirls (C.C. White); Synetic Theatre: Treasure Island (Dr.Livesey).
Rex Daugherty (producer/director/composer) is a DC based theater artist and currently serves as the Artistic Director of Theatre for Solas Nua. During his five year tenure, Rex has garnered international acclaim for his productions and earned multiple Helen Hayes Awards and Nominations. 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 RTE – Irish National Broadcast. His recent production of The Smuggler was listed by The New York Times as one of the best theater productions of 2019. As a composer and musical performer, Daugherty’s work has been seen at The Kennedy Center, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Folger Theatre, Totem Pole Playhouse, 1st Stage, Longacre Lea, First Draft, The Hub Theatre, as well as three years as music director at Charter Theatre TYA. His musical The Devil and June Gantry was a 2018 semi-finalist at The Eugene O’Neill Center’s National Music Theater Conference.
Additional design and devising contributions by Nitsan Scharf and Mekala Sridhar.
Fresh and funny ‘👨🏾💻😷👨💻’ from Solas Nua creates a flash community review by Michael Poandl
Solas Nua’s latest is one time only and off the wall by David Siegel