Enda Walsh

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Plays by Enda Walsh

Arlington

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's play Arlington (subtitled 'A Love Story') is a story of love and oppression set in a dystopian world of entrapment, isolation and surveillance. It was first performed at Leisureland, Salthill, Galway, on 11 July 2016, as part of the 2016 Galway International Arts Festival.

The play is set in a 'realistic waiting room – of no fixed time or place'. Isla, a young woman, is trapped here, waiting for her number to be called on a prominent LED number display screen. Her only human contact is with a Young Man who sits in an adjacent control room operating the cameras that keep her under constant surveillance and listening to the stories she invents about the outside world. Both characters are victims of a tyrannical system, as is the Young Woman who, in a long, wordless, central section, dances her way to her own death. The play, however, concludes on a note that suggests that the human spirit can withstand oppression.

The Galway premiere was directed by Walsh with choreography by Emma Martin, music by Teho Teardo and designs by Jamie Vartan. It was performed by Charlie Murphy as Isla, Hugh O’Conor as the Young Man and Oona Doherty as the Young Woman, with additional voicework by Eanna Breathnach, Olwen Fouéré, Helen Norton and Stephen Rea.

Ballyturk

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk is a play of lyrical intensity and physical comedy, in which the lives of two men unravel over the course of ninety minutes. It was first performed at the Black Box Theatre, Galway, as part of the Galway International Arts Festival on 14 July 2014 in a production by Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival. The production subsequently toured to the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Cork Opera House, and the National Theatre, London.

The play's action takes place in a 'very large room' containing furniture pushed up against the walls. Two men, simply identified as 1 and 2, pass the time in speeded-up, silent-comedy rituals and speculating about daily life in an imagined Irish town called Ballyturk. But when a third character, 3, turns up, he not only breaks up the partnership but invites one of the duo into the outer world, and inevitable extinction.

The premiere production was directed by Enda Walsh and designed by Jamie Vartan. It was performed by Cillian Murphy, Mikel Murfi, Stephen Rea, Orla Ní Ghríofa and Aisling Walsh, with the voices of Eanna Breathnach, Niall Buggy, Denise Gough and Pauline McLynn.

Bedbound

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's play bedbound is a two-hander about a father/daughter relationship gone horribly wrong. It was first performed at The New Theatre, Dublin, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival 2000. It received its UK premiere at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, during the 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and was revived at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London, on 10 January 2002.

The play's action takes place on a small child's bed inside a plasterboard box that occupies the centre of the stage. At the beginning of the play, one wall of the box – the one that faces the audience – crashes to the ground, revealing Daughter and Dad, both of them on the bed. He talks frantically about his extraordinary past in furniture sales; she talks no less compulsively about anything at all, to fill the terrifying silence in her head. Trapped in their own claustrophobic story, these two tortured creatures attempt to reach some kind of redemption.

The premiere production at The New Theatre in Dublin was directed by Enda Walsh and designed by Fiona Cunningham. It was performed by Peter Gowan and Norma Sheahan. The production was revived at the Traverse Theatre and then at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs with Liam Carney playing Dad.

In his foreword to the collection Enda Walsh Plays: One (Nick Hern Books, 2011), Walsh writes: 'bedbound was my first effort away from Pat [Kiernan, director, Corcadorca Theatre Company] and towards myself. It’s essentially about the relationship between me and my dad. It’s wild but also very honest. A love letter to my sick dad at the time.'

Chatroom

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's Chatroom is a play about manipulation, cyberbullying and adolescent insecurity. It was first performed as part of the 2005 National Theatre Connections season, an annual festival of new plays for youth theatres and schools. It received its first professional production in the Cottesloe auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 10 March 2006.

The play's action takes place in a staged representation of the virtual space of an internet chatroom. A group of bored and restless teenagers – William, Jack, Eva, Emily and Laura – spend their time deconstructing children’s literature and the messages in modern pop music. But when a new member, Jim, joins to share his depression and thoughts of suicide, the conversation takes a dark turn. The group is torn between those who want to help and those who see this as a chance to create a martyr for the teenage population.

The National Theatre premiere was directed by Anna Mackmin and designed by Jonathan Fensom. It was performed by Matt Smith, Javone Prince, Matti Houghton, Andrea Riseborough, Andrew Garfield and Naomi Bentley.

A feature film version was released in 2010, directed by Hideo Nakata from a screenplay by Enda Walsh.

Delirium

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

A radical re-interpretation of Dostoyevsky’s seminal novel The Brothers Karamazov, Delirium is the result of a collaboration between Enda Walsh and acclaimed theatre company, theatre O. It was first performed on 9 April 2008 on tour prior to playing at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and the Barbican, London.

The play loosely follows the plot of Dostoyevsky's novel: at its heart is a bitter rivalry between the tyrannical Fyodor and his eldest son Mitya over money and the affections of a young woman, Grushenka. This is complicated by another love triangle, in which Mitya’s fiancée Katerina is loved by his resentful, intellectual brother Ivan. Observing these tensions, and attempting to introduce benign Christian virtues, is the youngest brother Alyosha. Meanwhile the sinister manservant Smerdyakov looks on from the sidelines, filming the action.

In their Prologue to the published text (Nick Hern Books, 2008), Joseph Alford and Carolina Valdés, Co-Artistic Directors of theatre O, write that 'Delirium explores a world without morals, depicting the human condition in a harsh and uncompromising way. The determined brothers of the title, and their despicable father, are each driven by an individual mix of passion, intellect, faith and frustration. Feuds over women and money ensue and bad blood runs deep, as beliefs and spitefulness ignite a frenzy of emotion so strong it is impossible to contain.'

The theatre O production was directed by Joseph Alford and designed by James Humphrey. It was performed by Joseph Alford, Denis Quilligan, Julie Bower, Dominic Burdess, Carolina Valdés, Nick Lee and Lucien MacDougall.

Disco Pigs

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's breakthrough play Disco Pigs is a fast and formally inventive portrait of two teenage Irish misfits. It was first performed by Corcadorca Theatre Company at the Triskel Arts Centre, Cork, in September 1996, and subsequently at the 1996 Dublin Theatre Festival. It received its UK premiere at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, on 7 August 1997, before transferring to the Bush Theatre, London, in September 1997, and then on international tour.

The play is written for two performers. Pig (male) and Runt (female) are two 17-year-olds who share everything including a birthday, communicate in a distinctive private language, and occupy an intensely imaginative world of their own. They seem to be completely inseparable, but as adulthood beckons them, Pig cannot let go of Runt and the fragile world they have built.

The Corcadorca production was directed by Pat Kiernan and designed by Aedin Cosgrove, with Cillian Murphy as Pig and Eileen Walsh as Runt.

The production won the Best Fringe Production Award at the 1996 Dublin Theatre Festival. It went on to win the Stewart Parker Prize for the best Irish debut play and the George Devine Award in 1997.

A feature film version directed by Kirsten Sheridan was released in 2001 with a screenplay by Enda Walsh, and with Cillian Murphy and Elaine Cassidy reprising their roles as Pig and Runt.

In his foreword to the collection Enda Walsh Plays: One (Nick Hern Books, 2011), Walsh writes: 'Disco Pigs is a jumble of things. A failed relationship I had with a twin, my relationship with the Cork dialect as a Dublin man, the explosive nightlife of the city at that time and our company’s participation in that nightlife. The play wrote itself in two weeks, was hugely naive but had a language that surprised me and somehow captured something about the city.'

The Ginger Ale Boy

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's debut play The Ginger Ale Boy is cabaret-style piece about a ventriloquist who has a nervous breakdown. It was written for Corcadorca Theatre Company and first performed by the company at the Granary Theatre, Cork, on 30 March 1995 (previews from 27 March).

The play traces the story of Bobby, an ordinary young man who discovers he has talent and ambition, but that there are other forces that may conspire to deprive him of his dreams.

The Corcadorca premiere was directed by Pat Kiernan and designed by Pat Kiernan and Harry Moore, with an original score for string quartet by Eoghan Horgan. The cast was Eanna Breathnach, Bríd Ní Chionola, Fiona Peek, Myles Horgan, Sorcha Carroll, Valerie Coyne, Dominic Moore, Anita Cahill, Christine Utzeri and Michael McCabe.

The play marked the beginning of a fruitful relationship between Walsh and the company, in particular director Pat Kiernan, who nurtured Walsh's early writing career.

How These Desperate Men Talk

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's How These Desparate Men Talk is a short play, first performed (with the title Fraternity) at the Schauspielhaus Zürich on 18 December 2004.

The play is set on an almost bare stage, with two middle-aged men, John and Dave, facing each other across a small table. The men are 'from suburbia', and they compulsively dissect the details of a childhood memory in search of the truth, while John holds a pistol to Dave's face.

The Schauspielhaus production was directed by Erich Sidler and designed by Karoline Weber. It was performed by Matthias Schuppli and Daniel Lommatzsch.

The play was premiered in Ireland (as How These Desparate Men Talk) by Corcadorca Theatre Company at the Greapel Metal Perforation Factory, Kinsale, Co. Cork, on 19 September 2014 in a production directed by Pat Kiernan. It was performed by David Pearse and Tadhg Murphy.

Picture of Enda Walsh

© Sarah Weal

Enda Walsh was born in Dublin and now lives in London. His breakthrough play Disco Pigs, produced by Irish theatre company Corcadorca in 1996, played at the Traverse Theatre as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1997 and won the Stewart Parker and George Devine Awards. Enda Walsh also wrote the book for the hit musical Once, based on the film by John Carney, which premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2011 and transferred to Broadway in 2012. The musical won numerous Tony Awards, including Best Book for Walsh, and received its London West End debut in 2013.

His other plays include a radical adaptation of A Christmas Carol (Corcadorca, 1994); The Ginger Ale Boy (Corcadorca, 1995); Sucking Dublin (Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1997); misterman (Granary Theatre, Cork, 1999); bedbound (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 2001); The Small Things (Paines Plough at the Menier Chocolate Factory, 2005); Chatroom (NT Connections, 2005); The Walworth Farce (Druid Theatre, Galway, 2006, then Traverse Theatre, 2007; winner of Edinburgh Fringe First Award 2007); The New Electric Ballroom (Kammerspiele, Munich, 2005, then Druid Theatre, Galway and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 2008; winner of Theater Heute’s Best Foreign Play, 2005, Edinburgh Fringe First Award, 2008 and Best New Play, Irish Times Theatre Awards, 2008); Delirium, an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (for Theatre O, Abbey Theatre and Barbican, 2008); Penelope (Traverse Theatre, 2010, then Hampstead Theatre, 2011; winner of Edinburgh Fringe First Award, 2010); a revised version of Misterman (Galway Arts Festival, St Ann’s Warehouse, New York, 2011 and National Theatre, 2012); Ballyturk (Galway Arts Festival/Landmark Productions and National Theatre, 2014) and an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Twits (Royal Court, 2014).

His plays for radio include Four Big Days in the Life of Dessie Banks for RTÉ, which won the IPA Radio Drama Award, and The Monotonous Life of Little Miss P for the BBC, which was commended at the Grand Prix Berlin. His 2008 biopic, Hunger, told the story of the final days of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands and won awards including the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Heartbeat Award at the Dinard International Film Festival. It was nominated for seven BIFAs (including Best Screenplay), six British Film and Television Awards (including Best Screenplay and Best Independent Film) and BAFTA’s Outstanding British Film Award 2009.