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Irish theater festival staged in Delray Beach

Staff Writer

Irish theater is coming to Delray Beach.

The 21st Acting Irish International Theatre Festival will be staged Tuesday, May 20 through Saturday, May 24,  at Arts Garage.

“We have a lot of people coming into town,” says Dennis Holmes, the president of Irish Theatre of Florida, which is hosting the event. “We have groups coming in from Chicago, Winnipeg, Toronto, Rochester, Milwaukee, Dublin, Cincinnati, Calgary and, of course, our local group from Delray.”

A board member of that local group, playwright James Doan, will open the five-day spate of plays Tuesday night with his play “The Irish Dracula.” In an email, the Nova Southeastern University humanities professor says his inspiration was, “My interest in the novel ‘Dracula,’ author Bram Stoker's Irish background, and his conflicted relationship with Henry Irving, director and chief actor at the Lyceum Theatre [in] London, and hence, Stoker's boss.”

Doan says he thinks of the play as a “prequel to ‘Dracula,’ “ with psychological insights into Stoker, and that the production includes the Delray Beach-based Roaring Kelly Band playing tunes that would have been popular in 1888, when the show is set. “The Irish Dracula” will be performed in Dublin later this year.

The festival’s other plays run the gamut, but all have “some connection to Ireland,” Holmes says. The festival takes place in a new city every year. Irish Theatre of Florida hosted the event in 2003 at the Crest Theatre in Delray Beach, but now they are committed to Arts Garage.

“We’re going to put all of our plays at Arts Garage in the future,” Holmes says of Irish Theatre’s local chapter. “They’ve been very, very good to us.”

Louis Tyrrell, artistic director of the Theatre at Arts Garage, says he was attracted to the event because of its international aspect.

“I knew they had a history in the community, and being part Irish myself and loving the Irish theater, I was intrigued,” he recalls. “It’s avocational theater, so you get a range of quality. That being said, the offering looks great.”

Acting Irish International Theatre Festival is being staged at Arts Garage, 180 NE First St., in Delray Beach. “The Irish Dracula” will begin 8 p.m. Tuesday, and the festival will present a play at 8 nightly through Saturday. Matinees will begin at 2 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets cost $20. Call 561-450-6357 or go to

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