Solas Nua to stage new script by KenCen playwrighting honoree Leo McGann

Belfast playwright's 'The Honey Trap' to feature film and stage star Jonathan Holmes in a psychological thriller about The Troubles of Northern Ireland.

Solas Nua, Washington, DC’s premier contemporary Irish arts organization, announced that they are proud to produce — in association with the Kennedy Center’s Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards Program — the world premiere of The Honey Trap by Leo McGann in DC this fall, featuring film and stage star Jonathan Holmes (Descendants, Rogue, Almost Human).

Leo McGann is the recipient of The Harold and Mimi Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award, in association with the Steinberg Trust, part of the Kennedy Center’s Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards Program. This award recognizes the outstanding student-written play premiering in a college or university in the United States. It is the highest playwriting honor given out by The Kennedy Center, which Leo received for The Honey Trap in 2018.

Leo McGann, Playwright

Created by Belfast playwright Leo McGann, The Honey Trap explores The Troubles through the lens of an American oral history project that spins out of control. The Honey Trap received national recognition from The Kennedy Center and was called “a thrilling portrait of human emotion through a historical lens of the not-so-distant past,” a daring new voice on sectarian conflict that triangulates Irish-America’s fascination with The Troubles with Irish and British lived experiences.

About the play: Two off-duty British soldiers go for a drink on the outskirts of Belfast in 1979 and meet two local girls. What seems like a typical night at the pub turns into something much darker. Decades later, reliving that night for an American oral history project, lead character Dave reopens old wounds that send him back to Belfast in search of answers and revenge.

Solas Nua Artistic Director of Theatre Rex Daugherty shares, “Ever since we did a reading of The Honey Trap in 2019 in our beloved play reading series, audiences have regularly asked if we would ever do a full production of the script. The answer is a definitive ‘YES!’ Leo’s play is an electric psychological thriller that reframes and recontextualizes The Troubles in a three-way discussion between Ireland, England, and Irish America. This conversation juxtaposes Irish-America’s academic fascination with The Troubles against the deeply felt, personal experiences of both Irish and British communities. The result is dangerous, provocative, and wildly fun. This period of modern Northern Irish history remains a topic that U.S. audiences are hungry to learn more about, and this show takes us there with a daring new perspective. What I love about Leo’s play is that it complicates issues and offers nuance and humanity in ways that only the best of theater can do.”

Performances will run November 2 to 19, 2023, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE, Washington, DC.


Leo McGann (Playwright)

Leo McGann is a playwright from Belfast. He began writing with Tinderbox Theatre Company as part of their Fireworks program and was part of the Royal Court’s Young Writers and Studio groups in London. He studied Modern History at Oxford and has an MFA in Playwriting from Boston University. He has been the recipient of two awards at the Kennedy Center: the National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Award in 2016 for In The Moment and the Harold and Mimi Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award for The Honey Trap in 2018. He was part of the BBC Writersroom’s Belfast Voices group and was a nominee for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. He was a BAFTA Los Angeles scholar in 2017-2018. He has worked in TV and radio drama, investigative journalism, and feature film development and has taught creative writing at Boston University.

Matt Torney (Director)

Matt is the Artistic Director of Theatrical Outfit, a professional theatre company based in Atlanta GA that produces “world-class productions that start the conversations that matter.” They also run the Made in Atlanta new work program that commissions and develops new work about Atlanta and the South. Originally from Belfast, Matt worked as a freelance director in Ireland before moving to the US in 2006 to complete an MFA in directing at Columbia University. He has directed extensively in New York, regionally in the US, and internationally. Before moving to Atlanta, Matt served as Associate Artistic Director at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC for five years. Recent work includes The Humans by Stephen Karam, An Iliad by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Petersen (nominated for two Suzi Bass Awards including “Best Production”), Doubt by John Patrick Shanley (nominated for three Helen Hayes Awards including “Best Production”), If I Forget by Steven Levenson (nominated for three Helen Hayes Awards), and MotherStruck! by Staceyann Chin (nominated for two Helen Hayes Awards including “Best Production”).

Jonathan Holmes (Dave)

Jonathan is an actor, voiceover artist, teacher, and director with over 30 years of professional experience. He has appeared on stages across Canada, UK, Australia, and the US including work with Bristol Old Vic, Liverpool Everyman, Kneehigh Theatre, Richmond Gateway, Vancouver Arts Club, Manitoba Theatre Centre, and Arena Stage. He has over 50 Film and Television credits including Rogue, Descendants, Almost Human, The 4400, Stargate: Atlantis, and Peter Greenaway’s Nightwatching. Recent highlights include creating the role of The Childchewer in the Steven Spielberg-helmed The BFG and three seasons as William Barry on the Netflix series Anne with an E. He has lent his voice to numerous animated series and can currently be heard as Runaan on the Emmy award-winning Netflix series The Dragon Prince.


Jonathan Holmes, Rebecca Ballinger, Jordan Essex, Jared Graham, Emily Erickson, Mallorie Stern, and Lise Bruneau*

*Member – Actors’ Equity Association


Matt Torney (director), Nadir Bey (scenic design), Alberto Segarra+ (lighting design), James Garver (sound design), Heather Lockard+ (costume design), Katherine Offut (props), Adrien Alice Hansel (dramaturg), Rex Daugherty (producer/choreography), Charlotte La Nasa (assistant producer/community engagement)

+Member – United Scenic Artists


Solas Nua – ‘new light’ in Irish, is dedicated exclusively to contemporary Irish arts. Founded in 2005, Solas Nua acts as an ambassador and advocate for Irish arts in the US, promoting contemporary Irish culture, multi-disciplinary arts, and creativity. Solas Nua commissions, produces, and presents thought-provoking and groundbreaking work across genres, work that is cross-cultural, representing today’s Ireland — a contemporary, globally diverse society — and reflecting how Irish culture is shared across borders, ethnicity, and economic lines.


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