"That mandolin does sound haunted in a very good way.” –Jens Lekman
Ira Lawrence is an internationally produced playwright who inherited a haunted electric mandolin from his estranged grandmother in 2014. After releasing his acclaimed debut EP "Elegant Freefall" (Independent Clauses #9 Best EP of 2015), he left Brooklyn for the Philippines with his AustraliAmerican Theater Collective EVERYTHING IS EVERYWHERE (2 Aussies 2 Americans 2 gals 2 dudes 2 goys 2 Jews 2 legit 2 quit) to write, teach, and perform at Sipat Lawin's Karnabal Festival of performance and social innovation.
WATCH SIPAT ON CNN: cnnphilippines.com/life/culture/arts/2016/09/14/independent-theater-in-the-philippines.html
While in The Philippines, Ira visited bombed out hospitals on the island of Corregidor, a sunken cemetery on the island of Camiguin, and almost got cast as a lead in a Filipino soap opera. MAPAGKAWANGGAWA, his debut album, is a self-recorded 11-song musical travelogue informed by Ira’s adventure abroad- exploring alienation from friends, the excitement of being immersed in a new culture, and America’s tenuous history with The Philippines (which at one point was on track to be America’s 51st state).
Ira’s theatrical work has been performed at The Kennedy Center, Flea #Serials, Samuel French OOB, Ensemble Studio Theater, Short & Sweet Sydney, Collaboraction (at the Steppenwolf Garage), F*It Club, Source Festival, Single Carrot, The Australian Broadcast Corporation, and The Chicago New Media Summit (among many other places around the globe). In 2006, City Paper voted Ira “Best Playwright Of Baltimore”. In 2009, Dated: A Cautionary Tale For Facebook Users was a New York Innovative Theater Award nominee for best short play. Ira has received playwriting grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and Chicago Union League.
MAPAGKAWANGGAWA is also a Tagalog word for charitable and philanthropic. So, upon the album’s release in Fall of 2016, one dollar of every album sale will be donated back to The Sipat Lawin Ensemble- the vibrant and audacious Filipino theater company behind Karnabal. The album was self recorded in Brooklyn at Ryan & Molly's apartment between Christmas and New Years 2015 and mixed and mastered by John Jagos aka Brothertiger in Greenpoint.
ONLY IRA LAWRENCE'S HAUNTED MANDOLIN
“A stringed instrument on an acid trip, being played within a haunted house.”- Soundwaves Review
“MAPAGKAWANGGAWA, is an album of unique and unforced style that cements Lawrence as an artist to be watched“- Artist Direct
"There’s a lot to be proud of on this album: the rhythm, mixing, and the many, impressive sounds Lawrence is able to create using just one instrument are all reason for exuberant celebration. That experimentation is a force to be reckoned with." - The Knockturnal
"These homemade quirks are not merely for show – rather, they help inform the impressive songwriting and musicianship that has gone into this entire work, which speaks volumes of Lawrence’s genuine artistry. Indeed, the lyrics are simple yet poetic, full of meaning to which anyone can relate. Meanwhile, the music is full of hooks, buzzy distortions, and memorable melodies. Accompanied only by his haunted mandolin, Lawrence’s vocals are strong and clear; unaffected and blatant, yet somewhat bent, biting out catchy tunes and anxious, angsty, and optimistic lyrics...It somehow feels old and new, familiar and other worldly, all at the same time. "- NY Theatre Guide
"Fuzzy Mandolin-folk which nestles into the corners of the room a like a happy pet dog gazing in the hope of supper."- Emerging Indie Bands