Conversations On A Playwright

Conversations On A Playwright the biennial series of acting masterclasses, talks and discussions at The Lir Academy, run in association with Abbey Theatre, will take place for the final time this December 11th-15th.

Featuring six of Ireland’s most established actors who will mentor twelve exceptional young actors to learn and explore the work of Tom Murphy, one of the most significant playwrights of 20th-century Irish theatre. The event allows actors who have worked directly with Tom Murphy to bring a new generation of Irish acting talent the tools to share his unique style.

Regarded as one of the most important playwrights of his generation, Tom Murphy had a singular voice. With a musicality that runs through his work, the most powerful staged representations of his plays often saw Murphy present in the rehearsal room to help interpret the page to the stage. Conversations On A Playwright (COAP) honours his legacy by passing down this knowledge and understanding of the work itself through to a new generation of Irish actors who haven’t performed his work before.

“I’m very excited by the prospect of working with this year’s outstanding mentors and participants on Conversations On A Playwright 2023,” said Jane Brennan. “It is such a joy to see the younger participants step up to meet the challenge of Tom’s plays guided by their older colleagues and to see a real appetite for such major work. All of this would not be possible without the incredible support of The Lir Academy, Abbey Theatre and The Arts Council, for which I am extremely grateful.”

An actor’s playwright, Conversations is a unique actor’s event, allowing actors at the early stages of their career to learn from the actors he felt so comfortable amongst. This year Jane Brennan and Frank McCusker will be joined by Catherine Walsh, Marty Rea, Cathy Belton and Niall Buggy, working with Tiernan Messit-Greene (Harry Wild), Jeanne Nicole Ní Áinle (Clean Sweep), Oliver Flitcroft (The Dry), Ian O'Reilly (Moone Boy), Liadán Dunlea (The Alienist), Eilish McLaughlin (Rebecca’s Boyfriend), Stefan Brennan Healy (Another Life), Éanna Hardwicke (Vivarium), Joshua McEneaney (The Half Coat), Olivia Byrne (Pixie) and Abby Fitz (Small Things Like These).

Speaking about that initiative, Caitríona McLaughlin, Artistic Director, Abbey Theatre said: "When I am asked to articulate what makes theatre such a meaningful experience, I think immediately of Tom Murphy, and in particular a line from the Gigli Concert which expresses the uniqueness of our art form so succinctly and perfectly: “that you are breathing now, this moment, alive in time, at the same time as I,”.

Nobody understands the dramatic form better than Tom Murphy, nor asks more of actors while at the same time giving them all the tools to succeed; extraordinary language, clarity of meaning, rhythm, and emotion. Tom Murphy is and will always be one of the greatest writers in the English language and it is an honour to help celebrate his rare genius. We at the Abbey Theatre are delighted to be a part of Conversations on a Playwright and support this gift of exchange between the most experienced performers of Murphy’s work and young artists who will be introduced first-hand to the complexity, the vocal dexterity and emotional rigor inherent in his writing."

Gemma Bodinetz, Director & CEO, The Lir Academy added: "We are very proud at The Lir Academy to once again be partnering with Conversations On A Playwright. This opportunity for our emerging practitioners to engage so deeply with Tom Murphy's work is a fantastic example of the professional development opportunities we seek for our graduates."

In this third iteration of Conversations On A Playwright, six emerging directors will be given the opportunity to participate in the programme for the first time. Supported by the Abbey Theatre, the six directors on the programme – four Resident Directors from the Abbey and two MFA graduates from the Lir Academy – will immerse themselves in the plays of Tom Murphy as well as leading on an investigation of a specific Tom Murphy play.

Conversations on a Playwright 2023 is presented by Jane Brennan in partnership with the Lir Academy and funded by The Arts Council/An Chomhairle EalaÍon. Director participation is in partnership with the Abbey Theatre in recognition of the Abbey's long relationship with Tom Murphy and his work. The event producer is Úna Carmody and Loughlin Deegan is interlocutor of the event.