A person in a navy sweater holding a piece of moss. He cups it with both hands, and holds it in front of his face.

© Fergal Styles

Irish Arts Center presents 


JUNE 7–9 2024


Run time: 50 minutes. No intermission.

Created by Luke Casserly
Perfume by Joan Woods
Sculpture by Ger Clancy
Dramaturgy by Rex Daugherty
Costume by Doreen McKenna
Additional Costume by Síofra Caherty
Video by Robert Higgins
Sound by Sam Hardiman
Artistic Documentation by Fergal Styles
Production Photography by Patricio Cassinoni
Stage Management by Grace Carter
Carpenters (U.S.) James Blydenburgh, Kiel Fuller

Co-produced by Solas Nua and Abbey Theatre, commissioned by Solas Nua in Washington DC. Distillation premiered as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2023. Supported by Goethe-Institut Irland, with additional development support by IMMA, Druid FUEL, Axis Ballymun, and Backstage Theatre. Developed through the support of an Arts Council Theatre Project Award.

A Note from: Luke Casserly

As an artist from the rural midlands, the landscape where I grew up has had a major impact on my sensibility as a human being. Over the last few years, the physical landscape in this area has undergone enormous change through the cessation of the peat harvesting industry. I have experienced first hand the complex nature of this change—with optimism for a new era of environmental potential, there also comes difficult questions around the disintegration of an industry and the impacts of this on the cultural and socioeconomic well-being of the community. 

Like many, as the world began to incrementally shut down on account of the global pandemic, my journey got re-routed. I returned home to the place I grew up. In its now fallow state, I began to wonder how many micro-pandemics had occurred here in the last century. How many species had been disturbed on account of human activity and industrialization. I began to see the landscape as a vulnerable thing—unable to speak up for itself. I started to wonder how it might feel, having been degraded and abused so consistently, for such an extended period of time. I wondered what it might say, if it had a voice. Would it be angry? Would it want to cry? Or would it be forgiving? I changed my perspective, and re-learned how to look. 

Distillation is an attempt to imagine the adjacent possible. The project is dedicated to the future of our broken landscapes—in the hope that by listening to them, we might be able to better understand them. 

         Things are healing slowly now
         in preparation for the next moment,
         hopefully a kinder one. 

         As the echoes of industry fade
         I wonder what a new conversation will sound like.
         New roots will find their place. Still, I am listening. 

An extract from 'This Mossy Place', featured as part of the publication How Do We Start? (2021) commissioned by Project Arts Centre.

A Note from the Executive Director of Irish Arts Center: Aidan Connolly

Thank you, as ever, for taking a chance with us by experiencing Luke Casserly’s mesmerizing and moving Distillation, co-produced by our friends at Solas Nua in Washington and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. 

Rachael Gilkey and I saw this piece at the 2023 Dublin Theatre Festival, and we immediately felt it aligned with the kinds of surprising and resonant experiences we like to share with New York audiences. Luke is one of Ireland’s most interesting young theatre artists, among a new generation who is innovating the performance experience while maintaining an emotional connection with you, the audience. 

We’re at a time of profound enduring disruption in our world. We’re glad there are artists like Luke who are reminding us to get our heads out of phones and our senses, literally and figuratively, on the ground.

A Note from Solas Nua’s Artistic Director of Theatre: Rex Daugherty

Distillation is unlike anything I’ve been a part of during my 20 year career in theatre. From the handheld peat soil, to the communal table setting, to the world’s only “bog perfume,” this show is truly one-of-a-kind! I’m deeply proud that Solas Nua commissioned Luke Casserly to create this unique performance journey as part of the Norman Houston Multidisciplinary Award, and I’m honored to be co-producing the work with the Abbey Theatre. Luke’s body of work responds to one of the most pressing international issues of our day, the environmental crisis. I find it incredibly difficult for any artist to write about this topic without triggering shame or existential dread. So often audiences are left with disparaging guilt and no clear answers for how an individual might respond to such a massive global concern. Luke, however, shares his perspective in a way that gives us hope. He encourages us to consider the Earth with joy and as a personal relationship, gently inviting us to question what our legacy might be—for our family, ourselves, and our planet. The love of the land is a deeply Irish value, but it’s something we can all benefit from in light of the environmental challenges we face around the world. 

We are also so delighted to be back at Irish Arts Center after our previously commissioned dance piece, Yes and Yes, from internationally acclaimed choreographer Liz Roche, was a New York Times Critics Pick in 2023. I hope this journey to the Irish bog will be a fragrant memory for you. Thanks for being here and for supporting daring new work from Solas Nua. Follow our work at solasnua.org.

Who's Who

Luke Casserly (Creator): Luke is a multidisciplinary performance maker from Longford, Ireland. His work weaves together environmental research, documentary, sound art, and site as a way of carving out space for new possibilities to emerge between live performance and physical landscape. To date, his projects have brought audiences through city streets, back gardens, train stations, beaches, and a bog in the Irish midlands. These works have led to the creation of a network of wildflower meadows across Ireland and the UK (1000 Miniature Meadows, 2020-23) and the planting of 1000 indigenous trees in the Irish Midlands (Root, 2021). Luke was awarded the Arts Council’s Next Generation Award in 2023, and was selected for the Norman Houston Multidisciplinary Commissioning Award with Solas Nua in Washington DC, in addition to being chosen to participate in the International Forum as part of Theatertreffen (Berlin Festspiele) 2023. He was appointed as a Biodiversity Artist in Residence with Dublin City Council earlier this year. He holds a BA in drama and theatre studies from Trinity College, Dublin, and a professional diploma in art and ecological practice from the National College of Art and Design.

Joan Woods (Perfume): From fashion to flora, Joan Woods is the founder and perfumer at Waters + Wild. Her background is in fashion and art, and she founded and ran the iconic Platform clothes boutique in Dublin in the 1990s, and studied for a BA in art on Sherkin Island. A common factor in all her interests is working with natural materials, from the pure linens and raw cottons and silks of her favored Italian and Danish designers, to the found raw materials in her art (sand, ash, and fragments of wood and glass). She sees Waters + Wild as a similar art project, designing a perfume range using only the finest natural and organic ingredients. From her studio barn in Reen, a small team now sends out beautiful, elegant, wild, organic fragrances, distilling West Cork’s natural Irish essence, to destinations all over the world.

Ger Clancy (Sculptor): Ger Clancy is an award-winning artist and designer with over 20 years experience working as a sculptor, visual artist, designer, and maker. He is the artistic director of ArtFX.ie. His expertise and experience encompasses the fields of practice associated with visual and spectacle arts, theatre and film. Ger is also program chair of the design for film program at the Institute of Art and Design Dun Laoghaire (IADT), Ireland.

Rex Daugherty (Artistic Director of Theatre/Dramaturg): Rex is a D.C. based theatre artist and has served as the artistic director of theatre at Solas Nua since 2015. His work has been internationally featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, on the cover of American Theatre Magazine, the Irish Times, The Scotsman, Edinburgh Guide, British Theatre Guide, The Telegraph (Nigeria), The Guardian (Nigeria), and aired on RTÉ—Ireland’s national broadcast. During his tenure at Solas Nua, he has earned multiple Helen Hayes Awards and nominations, and garnered international acclaim for their productions. His 2019 solo performance of The Smuggler was listed by the New York Times as one of the best productions of the year. Additionally, his work has been seen at the Kennedy Center, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the National Theatre, the Warner Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Signature Theatre, Round House Theatre, Folger Theatre, Rep Stage, the Oklahoma City Civic Center, Oklahoma Shakespeare, Edinburgh Fringe, Dublin Theatre Festival, the Abbey Theatre, and Off-Broadway at 59E59. Daugherty has received three Helen Hayes nominations as part of outstanding ensembles, as well as Helen Hayes nominations for outstanding choreography and outstanding production. As a writer and play-maker, his plays have received over 20 productions. Most recently, his musical The Devil & June Gantry was a semi-finalist at the Eugene O’Neill Center’s American Music Theatre Festival and a finalist for Olney Theatre’s Vanguard Program. BEEP BEEP, written and directed by Rex, earned a Helen Hayes Award nomination for outstanding TYA production. He co-devised the hit play, Wake Up, Brother Bear, which has been running off and on at Imagination Stage since 2011. Rex is currently an Atlas Arts Lab Fellow at Atlas Performing Arts Center, developing his new memoir songwriter musical, The Well.

Robert Higgins (Harp Media/Video): Harp Media is an award-winning Longford production company ran by Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney. Their debut feature film Lakelands stars Éanna Hardwicke (Normal People, Vivarium), Danielle Galligan (Shadow and Bone, Kin), Lorcan Cranitch (Bloodlands) and, Gary Lydon (Banshees of Inisherin). The film won Best Irish Film and Bingham Ray New Talent Award for its lead actors at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2022 and the Bankside Award at the Galway Film Fair the previous year. It won Best Film at Kerry Film Festival and went onto be nominated for four IFTAs, including Best Film, before being released in Irish and UK cinemas in summer 2023. Their short film Drifting stars Oscar nominee Paul Mescal (Normal People), and premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2020. It was acquired for worldwide distribution by Network Ireland Television and played at a number of Academy Award and Bafta winning festivals.

Síofra Caherty (Jump The Hedges/Additional Costume): Jump The Hedges is an award-winning sustainable design studio based in Belfast and founded by designer Síofra Caherty. The studio has a material and waste led approach to product creation as opposed to the traditional fashion industry ‘design led’ approach. This approach ensures that waste material is fully utilized to create valuable and long lasting products. Bags are created from reclaimed truck tarpaulin, airplane seat parts, and waste leather. The studio was awarded Future Maker of Ireland Awards in 2015, 2016, and 2021, and a prestigious RDS Craft Award in 2022. The studio is regularly featured in the media and most recently on the RTÉ news series ‘Climate Heroes’. Alongside creating bags, the studio leads workshops on sustainability with schools and communities.

Grace Carter (Stage Manager): Recent assistant stage manager credits include This Much I Know (Theater J), Confederates, Monumental Travesties, One in Two, and Unseen (Mosaic Theater Company), as well as stage manager for the workshop reading of Murdered Men Do Drip and Bleed (co-produced by Solas Nua, Mosaic, and Fishamble). She is also an oil painter who focuses on building characters through portraiture centering on themes of memory, morality and memoir.

About Irish Arts Center

Irish Arts Center, founded in 1972 and based in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, is a home for artists and audiences of all backgrounds who share a passion or appreciation for the evolving arts and culture of contemporary Ireland and Irish America. We present, develop, and celebrate work from established and emerging artists and cultural practitioners, providing audiences with emotionally and intellectually engaging experiences in an environment of Irish hospitality. Steeped in grassroots traditions, we also provide community education programs and access to the arts for people of all ages and ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds. In a historic partnership of the people of Ireland and New York, Irish Arts Center recently completed construction on a fully-funded $60MM state-of-the-art new facility to support this mission for the 21st century.

Thanks from: Luke Casserly

Rex Daugherty, Andrew Dolan, Charlotte La Nasa, and all at Solas Nua; Jen Coppinger, Caitríona McLaughlin, Ruth McGowan, Aoife McCollum, and all at the Abbey Theatre; Pete Danelski, and all at Eaton DC; Leo McGann and Margaret Mullet; Willie White, Stephen McManus, Derval Mellett, and all at Dublin Theatre Festival; Heidrun Rottke, Ulrike Gasser, and all at Goethe-Institut Irland; Ragnheiður Skúladóttir; Catherine Abbott; Bryony Kimmings; Niamh O’Donnell, Leigh Hussey, and all at Irish Theatre Institute; Síomha Nee, Brian Fenton, Garry Hynes, and all at Druid Theatre Company; Aifric Ní Ruairc and all at AXIS Ballymun; Maeve Stone; Aoife Spillane Hinks; Mona Considine, and all at Backstage Theatre; Caitriona Devery and all at UCD Earth Institute; MAKE residency from Dublin Fringe Festival, Cork Midsummer, Project Arts Centre, and Theatre Forum; Adrian Duncan; Seoidín O’Sullivan; Michael West; Gea Gojak; Gavin Quinn, Emma Coen, and all at Pan Pan Theatre Company; Ross Smith; Lora Hartin; Jill Jeffrey; Con and Yvonne Casserly; Choy-Ping Clarke-Ng; Aimee van Wylick and all at To Be Irish & the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Irish Arts Center Staff


Gerrard Boyle
Andrew Breslin
Aidan Connolly
Kristine Covillo
John S. Daly
Robert M. Devlin
Celestine Donaghy
John Duffy
Kathleen Fee
Russell Gioiella
Loretta Brennan Glucksman
Shaun Kelly (Chair)
John Martin
Robert J. McCann
Shane Naughton
Sharon Patrick
James E. Quinn
Pauline Turley


Adam Browne (Development Associate)
Elise Bargman (Ticketing and Marketing Data Manager)
Zohra Coday (Programming and Education Associate)
Aidan Connolly (Executive Director)
Christine Cullen (Director of Administrative Operations)
Manuel Da Silva (Production Manager and Lighting Supervisor)
Shannon Ducey (Administrative Manager)
Chloe Eisen (Development Associate)
Fiona Farrell (Communications and Marketing Associate)
Vivian Fong (Director of Communications and Marketing)
Rachael W. Gilkey (Director of Programming and Education)
Laney Granito (Special Events Coordinator)
Jon Harper (Chief Operating Officer)
Anah Klate (Audience Services Manager)
Andy O'Reilly (Artist Services Manager)
Barry Ó Séanáin (Director of Development)
Ciara O'Shea (Communications and Marketing Associate)
Emma Reifschneider (Executive Assistant)
Jessie Reilly (Director of Education, Family and Community Programming)
Teresa Shyr (Development Associate)
Mac Smith (Director of Production)
Pauline Turley (Vice Chair)
Dennis Walls (Director of Facility Operations)
Kestrel Wolgemuth (Associate Director of Programming)

Tehmina Anjum (Senior Accountant, NCheng)
Desaann Legzim (Senior Accountant, NCheng)
Vera Wong (Senior Accountant, NCheng)
Wenbin Nie (Supervising Senior, NCheng)
Faizan Younus (Principal, NCheng)

Pat Morin (Graphic Designer)
Taylor Panetti (Graphic Designer)

Blake Zidell (Public Relations Consultant, Blake Zidell & Associates) 

Ryan Henry (Programming Intern)
Sarah Iles (Special Events Intern)
Emily Mayo (Communications & Marketing Intern)
Summer McCroskey (Development Research Intern)
Matt Storti (Programming Intern)


Box Office: Bev Kippenhan, Colleen Litchfield, Stephen Peterson
House Managers: Tiffany Clifton, Lindsey Freeman
Ushers: James Barniker, Christopher Cunningham, Aaron Ellis, Frances Lavezzari, Michael Lester, Anne Marie Mascia, Sylvia Morsillo, Francis Rosario, Anne Rutter, Joanne Sutton-Smith, L.E. Woods

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Flat lay image of colcannon puffs in a bowl with a green dipping sauce.

© Gili Benita


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16 different logos spread across three rows

Irish Arts Center programs are supported, in part, by government, foundation, and corporate partners including Culture Ireland, the agency for the promotion of Irish arts worldwide; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the New York City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; Howard Gilman Foundation; Jerome L. Greene Foundation; the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation; the Charina Endowment Fund; the Ireland Funds; the Shubert Foundation, Inc.; the Arnhold Foundation; the Irish Institute of New York; the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, New York; Northern Ireland Bureau; Invest NI; CIE Tours; M&T Bank; the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Consulate of Ireland in New York; and thousands of generous donors like you.