12th July 2022

July Playwright Session: Writing into the Future

We’re delighted to announce that our next Playwright Session will take place on Friday 29 July and will take the form of a panel discussion. Writing Into The Future brings together the Abbey Theatre’s lead creative team of Caitríona McLaughlin, Mark O’Brien, Marina Carr and Conor McPherson, hosted by Siobhán Bourke.

This Session will take place on Zoom on Friday 29 July, from 11.30am-13.30pm.

The Playwright Sessions series is free to attend and is open to professional playwrights and theatre writers working on the island of Ireland and the Irish diaspora working professionally overseas. Sign ups to the Playwright Sessions mailing list are welcome any time – any new sign ups can join HERE.Sign up by 27 July to attend our next event.

Caitríona McLaughlin – Artistic Director, Abbey Theatre Caitríona was born in Donegal and studied science at the University of Ulster before moving into theatre. She was Associate Director at the Abbey Theatre from 2017-2020, where her productions included: The Great Hunger by Patrick Kavanagh (with Conall Morrison); Citysong by Dylan Coburn Gray (ITTA nomination Best New Play); On Raftery’s Hill by Marina Carr, (for which she won Best Director at the 2019 ITTA); and Two Pints by Roddy Doyle, which toured widely in Ireland and the USA. She also worked with theatre and opera companies on both sides of the border, including Wexford Opera, Hot for Theatre, INO, The Local Group, and Landmark, and she was the director on O’Casey in the Estatea TV documentary shown on RTE.

Prior to moving into directing, with Patrick McCabe’s Frank Pig Says Hello at the Finborough Theatre in London in 2003, Caitríona worked as a drama facilitator in Northern Ireland, working with young people and in conflict resolution. In London, she directed numerous productions, focusing primarily on new writing, and collaborated with the Royal Court in sourcing and developing a new theatre space. She was awarded a Clore Fellowship in 2007 and subsequently spent six summers with LAByrinth Theatre Company in New York developing new plays for Artistic Directors John Ortiz and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, at their Summer Intensive. During this time Caitríona also directed a number of plays in New York including Killers and other Family (part of the OBIE award-winning Hilltown Plays) and plays at Atlantic Theatre, Rattlestick, and Bard Summerscape.

Mark O’Brien – Executive Director, Abbey Theatre From Bray, Co Wicklow, Mark studied at University College Dublin, graduating with a Master’s degree in English Literature.  He has had over 25 years’ experience in the theatre and wider culture sectors, as a leader, facilitator, actor, sound designer, administrator, and theatre director. He has also led, directed, and developed work in the youth theatre sector, and with Team Educational Theatre Company.

Mark was previously Director of axis arts centre Ballymun. Over ten years, he developed axis into an organisation and space of local, national and international renown, that created, facilitated and produced new and significant work, across theatre, arts development and engagement contexts. Mark led the organisation through two years of mentorship on the New Stream programme with the Devos Institute, at the University of Maryland and Business to Arts and completed a postgraduate diploma in Innovation and Social Enterprise at the Ryan Academy. Under his leadership, axis became an artistic and cultural hub for both artist and public, saw a 100% increase in gross box office, developing new income streams, a building expansion, and a new operational model, all while instilling a developmental and supportive ethos with the over 35 full / part-time staff, and many artists / collaborators. His driving force was to achieve a shared vision of excellence through inclusion.

He built strong relationships with a range of stakeholders, across a diverse range of sectors – artistic, cultural, non-profit, private, statutory, academic, local government and government –  and collaborated nationally and internationally with bodies including Dublin Port Company, British Council, St Patricks Festival, Health Service Executive, Creative Carbon Scotland, and Creative Europe.

Conor McPherson is a playwright and screenwriter who was named by The New York Times as ‘the finest playwright of his generation’.

Conor won the George Devine Award in 1997 with his play St Nicholas, and went on to win an Olivier Award for Best New Play in 1999 with his follow-up, The Weir. In 2006 he received a Tony Award nomination for ShiningCity and an Olivier Award nomination for Best New Play for The Seafarer.

In 2011 he wrote and directed The Veil for the National Theatre and in 2012 he adapted Strindberg’s The Dance of Death for the Donmar Trafalgar Season. The Night Alive premièred at the Donmar in June 2013 and transferred to the Atlantic Theater in New York in November 2013.

Conor also writes for film and in 2008 he began production on The Eclipse, which marked his debut as a screen director. The Eclipse was adapted by Conor from a ghost story by Billy Roche and stars Aidan Quinn and Ciaran Hinds.  He also developed Strangers for Number 9 Films based on the novel by Taichi Yamada. 

Conor is currently working on the screenplay Double Cross for Paul Greengrass. His original television drama Paula, developed with Cuba Pictures and BBC NI for BBC2, aired in May 2017 to brilliant reviews. The Girl from the North Country, with music from Bob Dylan, had its world premiere at the Old Vic theatre in 2017, transferred to the West End in 2018 and arrived on Broadway in 2020. 

Conor currently has several projects in development, including a film adaptation of Girl From The North Country with Blueprint Pictures/New Regency.

Marina Carr’s plays to date are Ullaloo, 1989; Low in the Dark, 1991; The Mai, 1994; Portia Coughlan, 1996; By the Bog of Cats, 1998; On Raftery’s Hill, 1999; Ariel, 2000; Woman and Scarecrow, 2004; The Cordelia Dream, 2006; Marble, 2007; 16 Possible Glimpses, 2009; Hecuba, 2015, The Boy at the Abbey Theatre 2021, iGIRL at the Abbey Theatre 2021, Girl on an Altar at The Kiln Theatre 2022; Adaptations are Anna Karenina (adapted from Tolstoy’s novel), 2016 and Blood Wedding (a new version of Lorca’s play), 2019; Plays for children are Meat and Salt, 2003 and The Giant Blue Hand, 2007, To the Lighthouse, 2021.

Her work has been produced by The Abbey Theatre, The Gate, Druid,
Landmark, The Royal Court, Wyndhams Theatre, The RSC, The Tricycle, The
MacCarter Theatre, San Diego Rep, Milwaukee Rep. She is translated into many languages and produced around the world. She also wrote a new, contemporary translation of Rigoletto for Opera Theatre Company, which toured Ireland in 2015, and wrote an original oratorio Mary Gordon as part of a commission for Wicklow County Council that brought together choirs from throughout County Wicklow with solo singers and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in November 2016.
Prizes include Windham-Campbell Prize 2017 for her body of work, The
Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, The American/Ireland Fun Award, The E.M Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Macaulay Fellowship, The Puterbaugh Fellowship. She is a member of Aosdana. 
She has taught at Trinity, at Villanova, at Princeton. Currently she lectures in the English department at Dublin city University. She is published by The Gallery Press, Nick Hern Books and Faber & Faber.