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Irish Plays on London Stages: What's Happening Now?

Venue: Online

A collaboration between Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre and THISISPOPBABY (Ireland) on the state of Irish plays in London now: who is writing them, where they are being staged, and what the term ‘Irish play’ now means. Online.

THISISPOPBABY (Ireland) & Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre present The Playwright Sessions Special Edition:  Irish Plays on London Stages: What’s Happening Now?   
Writing in the Irish Times in 1996, theatre critic Fintan O’Toole suggested that such was the number of Irish plays on London stages at the time that tourists ‘might be forgiven for wondering whether their airline hadn't made a terrible mistake and landed them in Dublin instead.’ Despite the apparent ‘avalanche’ of Irish plays, O’Toole found it curious that the traffic moved mainly in one direction, with Irish theatres being much less inclined to produce English work. This panel takes this moment to reflect on the state of Irish plays on London stages now, by asking: who is writing them, where are they being staged, why are they not being staged, and what does the term ‘Irish play’ even mean any more?       
THISISPOPBABY's Playwright Sessions is a series of extraordinary meet ups for playwrights and theatre writers. Part extraordinary general meeting, part galvanising gathering, part creative brain workout, The Playwright Sessions is a series of incredible masterclasses and talk-shops featuring world class guest playwriting and theatre industry experts. In this special edition, in collaboration with Birkbeck Arts Week, The Playwright Sessions is opened up to artists, makers and audiences outside of Ireland. Chaired by by Fintan Walsh, Professor of Theatre and Performance (Birkbeck).


Graham Whybrow
Graham Whybrow works internationally advising theatres, playwrights, directors and other theatremakers. He was literary manager of the Royal Court Theatre from 1994–2007. He is a consultant on developing arts policies for producing new plays and for fostering the artistic development of talented playwrights and theatre directors.

Rachel O'Riordan
Rachel O’Riordan is Artistic Director and CEO of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre where she launched her critically acclaimed debut season in Autumn 2019 with a triumphant adaptation of A Doll’s House by Tanika Gupta. She is currently directing Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and earlier this summer co-directed the Lyric’s reopening production Out West. Previously, Rachel was Artistic Director and CEO of Sherman Theatre, Wales from 2014 and transformed the venue, winning The Stage’s prestigious Regional Theatre of the Year Award in 2018. Directing credits include the Olivier award-winning Killology and Iphigenia in Splott. She was Artistic Director of Perth Theatre, Scotland between 2011 and 2014 and won The Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland for Best Director and Best Ensemble for Macbeth. From 2002 to 2011, Rachel co-founded and ran Ransom Productions in Northern Ireland. She has been named as one of the most influential people in UK Theatre in the Stage 100. Published work includes Women in Irish Theatre.

Gillian Greer
Gillian Greer is a playwright and dramaturg from Dublin.

Her plays include Meat (Theatre503, London, 2020; a finalist in the 2018 International Playwriting Award); and Petals (nominated for the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Play in 2015).

As a dramaturg, she has worked at the National Theatre, VAULT Festival, Clean Break Theatre Company, The Mercury Theatre and many more. She was appointed Literary Manager of Soho Theatre, London, in 2019.

Nancy Harris

Nancy Harris is an award-winning playwright from Dublin.   

Theatre credits include:

 The Magician’s Elephant, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Two Ladies Bridge Theatre, London, Auckland Theatre Company, New Zealand

The Beacon, Druid, The Gate Theatre Dublin, Stuttgart Theater, Germany

The Red Shoes, Gate Theatre, Dublin 

Our New Girl, Bush Theatre, London, Atlantic Theater, New York, Gate Theatre, Dublin

No Romance, Peacock Theatre, Dublin

Baddies: The Musical, Unicorn Theatre, London

The Kreutzer Sonata, Gate Theatre, London and La Mama, New York


Television:     The Dry, written and created an original 8 x 30’ comedy drama series directed by Paddy Breathnach, shooting summer 2021.  Element Films for Britbox, RTE.



Nancy received The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and The Stewart Parker Award for her debut full- length play No Romance in 2012.   She was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award.  Nominated for a BAFTA as a Breakthrough Talent in 2014 for her writing on the Channel 4 series Dates.

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This event is part of Arts Week 2022.

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