Solas Nua’s hopeful and heartfelt ‘In the Middle of the Fields’ is now on film

The acclaimed production in a park from last summer is streaming in the 1st Irish Theatre Festival.

In Solas Nua’s film adaptation of In the Middle of the Fields — now streaming through January 31, 2022, in New York City’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival — Director Laley Lippard brings the work of Playwright Diedre Kinahan to life on screen. First staged in a park in DC under Lippard’s direction last summer, the story follows one woman’s personal journey toward freedom and liberation as she reflects on the milestones of her life and grueling fight against cancer. 

Jessica Lefkow in the film of ‘In the Middle of the Fields.’ DCMTA screenshot.

After being deeply taken with my viewing of the film, I reached out to Lippard for an in-depth look at its key themes. Lippard shared with me her interpretation of the journey of the central character, Eithne: “She passes through memories and projects into the future as she tries to reconcile her trauma with her desire to live more fully in this second chance she’s been given, and the mistakes that hold her back from launching a new life.” 

Caroline Dubberly, Jessica Lefkow, and Ryan Sellars in the outdoor production of ‘In the Middle of the Fields.’ Photo by Better Together Media.

Jessica Lefkow’s gripping performance as Eithne dives deep into the raw human emotion brought about by life’s challenges, portraying equal amounts of vulnerability and resilience. She is accompanied by dynamic performances from Ryan Sellars and Caroline Dubberly, who make up the entire cast of characters Eithne comes across in life. Through these transformative performances, detailed choreography by Tony Thomas, and photography by Doug Wilder, audiences can witness the experience of a live theater production from their own computer screens. 

The film evokes strong sensory emotions from the very first shot of an ever-growing field, the blank slate that is to become every place Eithne passes through along her journey. Free from daily noise and distraction, this setting offers room for self-reflection and growth, with the absence of any structural limitations. Lippard utilized this landscape to place audiences at the center of the scarring events that define Eithne’s current inner struggle, as well as the fond memories of family and nature that keep her going. “Throughout the piece, something is either trying to hold her back from moving on or bringing her forward,” Lippard shared. 

Using visual and auditory effects to represent intrusive memories of her chemo trauma, the film transports us through the senses into her vivid flashbacks. Static shaking of the camera and powerful distorted imagery, paired with jolting sound, send a shock to your system as Eithne recoils and braces herself, all too aware of the poison being injected into her body. These harsh effects are in stark contrast to the peaceful scenes of sweetness and peace with her outdoor surroundings that allow her to propel forward.

This experience allows audiences to tap inside the mind of a woman’s loss, love, and freedom as we follow Eithne down an arduous road to a brighter tomorrow. The main themes accumulate in hope and perseverance, through all of life’s struggles — a strong, vital message to be spread in today’s climate. It answers the question that there is in fact light at the end of the tunnel, even when there is seemingly no hope ahead. We must never give up on ourselves, and sometimes our biggest weaknesses can unleash our biggest strengths. Everyone is dealt their fair share of hardships in life, but it is how we manage to come out the other side that truly shapes us and measures our strength within. 

Ryan Sellars and Jessica Lefkow in the film of ‘In the Middle of the Fields.’ DCMTA screenshot.

When asked what she hopes audiences take away from In the Middle of the Fields, Lippard adds, “I think we are always encountering moments where we can succumb to our fear and our ignorance, or we can be brave and walk the unknown. I hope that by experiencing Eithne’s journey we can be more brave in this collective possible second chance that we may have, to live loudly and fully, on our own terms.”

This film is one that anyone could benefit from as current events continue to overtake our world, with seemingly no end in sight. In The Middle of the Fields proves a semblance of hope, in our dark times. Thanks to the production of Solas Nua, audiences can now enjoy this heartfelt performance from the comfort of their own home; with an online ticket purchase, one can view at any time within the 24-hour window of one’s selected screening. 

Jessica Lefkow in the film of ‘In the Middle of the Fields.’ DCMTA screenshot.

Solas Nua Artistic Director, Rex Daugherty, when asked about the future for the film, had this to say: “Our film series, which was once an in-person screening, has grown rapidly since going digital. Will there be an appetite for filmed theater? Only one way to find out!” 

The accessibility of this 55-minute film allows audiences from all over to tune in, bringing the thrill of live theater to one’s home. The theatrical elements of raw emotion in a peaceful outdoor landscape provide the escape we could all use while tapping into the very real fears and anxieties many people face today.

Running time: 55 minutes.

In the Middle of the Fields presented by Solas Nua streams through January 31, 2022, in New York City’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival. E-tickets ($15), good for 24 hours, are available for purchase online.

An independent woman faces cancer in Solas Nua’s intimate outdoor drama (Lisa Traiger’s review of the live production at P St Beach)
Solas Nua brings back live theater with ‘In the Middle of the Fields’ in a park (news story)


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