This was my first stage play. Produced by the Abbey Theatre during the Dublin Theatre Festival of 1981. Seems like a thousand years ago now. Working with actors, hearing my lines being spoken for the first time was a door opening into a world I had dreamt about for years. I was extremely fortunate in having Sean McCarthy, who was then script editor at the Abbey, direct the play.
“Imeachtaí na Saoirse”, directed by Ray Yeates was produced at the Abbey two years later. This period, when Joe Dowling was artistic director of the Abbey, was notable for the number of new writers and directors who had first works produced there.
I loved working on this production with director Ray Yeates, and musical director Garvin Gallagher. It was a musical revue where Lady Gregory, Peig, Padraic Ó Conaire and Micheál MacLiammoir meet up in a Dublin gym. They are led around 1980s Dublin by a socialite eager to introduce them to the modern world.
In the late 1980s I worked as playwright in residence with Team Theatre Company for 2 years. I wrote two plays in collaboration with the company. The Native Ground, directed by Ronan Smith and Dreamwalker, directed by Patrick Sutton.
Blood Guilty is a one act play that was inspired by some real events. It was first performed in 1989. One night, Richard Harris who was in Ireland to film The Field came to see it. After the show he told me he had been mesmerised by the acting of the great John Cowley.
An Solas Dearg is the final play I had staged before turning to full time screenwriting in the mid 1990s. It was produced by Amharclann de hÍde and staged at the Peacock Theatre in 1995. It was directed by the late Deirdre Friel who had made some remarkable television drama in the 1970s. I got to know her when I was devising the pilot series of Ros na Rún in 1992. Her talent, humour, and energy was the foundation for the long-term success of that series.
This radio comedy was written a few years before the UK voted on Brexit. A futuristic fantasy about an event that had not yet happened. The Eurovision Song Contest plays a big role in the drama. Listen here :
Kate O’Toole plays the part of Rachel Bell in The Last Commissioner by Antoine Ó Flatharta. The play is set in Brussels in the not too distant future. In London, UKIP are part of a new coalition government, Sinn Féin make up part of the Dublin Coalition government and the almost bankrupt Uzikistan has won the Eurovision Song Contest.
The UK is about to vote on leaving the EU. Rachel Bell may be the last UK EU commissioner which spurs the pro European Rachel and her young Irish spokesperson Patrick Sarsfield, to conspire to make the EU more relevant to the people, with disastrous results for Anglo Irish relations.
Kate O’Toole is Commissioner Rachel Bell
David Pearse plays Patrick Sarsfield
Janet Moran was Alma Ní Ní Dhubhghaill
Mirjana Rendulic played the part of Malina Pavich
Directed by Gorretti Slavin
The Series producer of Drama on One is Kevin Reynolds