“We must travel in the direction of our fear”
A Point of Age by John Berryman
THE SMUGGLER won the Best Playwright award at the 1st Irish Festival of New York, 2019. And after three-extensions at Solas Nua Theatre in Washington DC, it’s been recognized as the surprise hit show of 2019 by DC Theatre Scene, and as a pick from the year’s best theater by the New York Times. THE SECOND GIRL (THIRST) is the winner of the Inaugural Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Excellence in Playwriting Award, 2015. Additional plays include: THE ATHEIST, BRENDAN, SCENES FROM AN ADULTERY, (THE BAILE TRILOGY) THE LEPERS OF BAILE BAISTE, THE BLOWIN OF BAILE GALL, THE GIGOLO OF BAILE BREAG, THE COMPASS ROSE, LITTLE BLACK DRESS and A SMALL DEATH. The themes that run through my work are immigration, dispossession, misanthropes, America, Ireland, issues of social conscience, and the ability of a character to survive difficult and fascinating circumstances. I love pushing those stories and characters through with a fierce dark comedy. And I want those characters to be indelible. I want them to make you cry and laugh. I want them to live long after me.
THE ATHEIST played at the Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. It was also co-produced by The Culture Project and Ted Mann’s Circle in the Square productions in New York, and received both Drama Desk and Drama League Acting nominations. Other recent international productions have taken place in the UK (London and Edinburgh), Spain, Canada, the Philippines, and Ireland. My full-length and one-act plays are published by Samuel French, Smith and Kraus, Baker Plays, and Dramatists Play Service. Awards and nominations include: Jeff recommendations in Chicago; Helen Hayes Recommendation in Washington DC; Ovation Recommendations in Los Angeles; Critics Award in Austin, Texas; American Critics Steinberg New Play Award nomination; nomination for best play at 1st Irish Festival New York, 2012 & 2015; Three Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Awards for Best New Play 2003 & 2008; the Boston Theatre Critics Association’s Elliot Norton Outstanding Script Award; The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. National Playwriting Award; a 2014 Edgerton New American Play Award, the Best Playwright Award, 2019 (The Smuggler) at the 1st Irish Festival in New York, and the Elliot Norton Best Solo Performance Award 2020. My essay on theatre, “Being Afraid to Breathe,” is published by the Princeton University Library Chronicle LXVIII and my play The Second Girl is featured and published in the Fall, 2016 edition of the Eugene O’Neill Review from Penn State University Press. Other plays have been featured in books on Irish Studies, such as Anail an Bheil Bheo: Orality and Modern Irish Culture and Sinead Moynihan’s, Other People’s Diasporas.
I’ve attended the Sundance Theatre Workshop and developed work at Huntington Theatre, Boston, New York Stage and Film, The Orchard Project, The Lark Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre (ACT), San Francisco, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, WV, and The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Florida. I am an Artistic Associate at the Vineyard Playhouse on Martha’s Vineyard and I’ve developed work for television with Pretty Matches Productions and the reality TV-based production company High Noon Entertainment. My 2014 Live Action Short THE ACCIDENT (based on a short play I GLUE YOU) has played the Boston International Film Festival and the Montclair Film Festival. I was invited to attend the Eugene O’ Neill Foundation festival at Tao House in Danville, CA in August, 2019 where I read and discussed the development of THE SECOND GIRL (THIRST). I am a board member of the The Éire Society of Boston, which has been celebrating Irish Heritage and Culture since 1937.
I was fortunate to have three productions of The Smuggler opening in the fall, 2019, in New York, Boston and Washington DC. But the production of The Smuggler at the Irish Repertory Theatre, NY in April 2020 has been postponed until further notice, as has my play Thirst which was due to open at Dorset Theatre Festival in July, 2020, directed by Theresa Rebeck.
*Update: It is expected that THE SMUGGLER (Book Published, September ’21) will have productions in Oregon, Washington DC., Florida, and New York during the 21/22 year. With a translated THIRST running in Spain next year and in Dorset, Vt during summer ’22.
I grew up in Clifden, Connemara, and after studying Politics and Mathematics at University in Galway (NUIG), Ireland, I began a writing career with a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism. I wrote for various newspapers in Ireland with a stint in Prague, Czech Republic. After an editor told me my writing was de-constructive and did not meet the formula for a newspaper, I wrote my first play. So maybe he was right. I immigrated to America and submitted that play to Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and studied with Noble Laureate Derek Walcott. There I learnt that deconstruction was not a bad word, and for a play to develop you need the support, belief, and the resources of a theatre and its community behind you.
I believe in playing with a myriad of elements to find the right way to tell a good story, a necessary story that tells us who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. I believe in stories that resonate beyond the theatre’s door, that add ideas to the national conversation. I believe in the playwright as thinker traveling in the direction of their fear. And as a teacher, I guide student writers to search for the beating heart in their work, to critique with care, to rewrite using the pen as a scalpel, and to read and reread all the plays, screenplays, and TV pilots they can get their hands on. I am on the writing faculty for Writing, Film & Media Arts at Walnut Hill School for the Arts. And I am an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Boston University where I teach at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre in the MFA program in Playwriting.