The Broadway community mourns the loss of Tony Award® – winning playwright Brian Friel, who passed away on October 2nd at age 86. The marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in his memory on Tuesday, December 8th, at exactly 6:45pm for one minute.
"Known as a gifted storyteller whose work achieved international acclaim for over four decades, Brian Friel’s writing explored social and political life in Ireland through lyrical dramas which played notably on the Broadway stage," said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. "Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and many fans."
Born in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, in Northern Ireland, Brian Friel was one of Ireland’s most prominent playwrights. After working in Derry as a teacher for ten years, he moved to Donegal to pursue a full time writing career. In addition to his published plays, he wrote short stories, screenplays, film, TV and radio adaptations of his plays and several pieces of non-fiction on the role of theatre and the artist.
Friel wrote 24 published plays, two short-story collections and three unpublished and eight published adaptations or versions, most notably from Ibsen, Chekov and Turgenev. His first major stage success, Philadelphia, Here I Come, was the undisputed hit of the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1964.
On Broadway, Friel’s plays include: Philadelphia, Here I Come; The Loves of Cass McGuire; Lovers; The Mundy Scheme; The Freedom of the City; Faith Healer; Translations; Dancing at Lughnasa; and Wonderful Tennessee.
Dancing at Lughnasa won three Tony Awards® in 1992, including Best Play. Lovers (1969) and Philadelphia, Here I Come (1966) both received Tony Award nominations for Best Play.
Off-Broadway, numerous productions of his plays were presented by the Irish Repertory Theatre, which has the distinction of producing more Friel plays than any other company in the United States.
Other plays he penned include: Aristocrats, Living Quarters, Molly Sweeney, Give Me Your Answer Do! and Volunteers.
In 1980 Friel cofounded (with actor-director Stephen Rea) the Field Day Theatre Company in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. They staged Friel’s Translations as their first production in Derry’s Guildhall. He was elected Saoi of Aosdána, Ireland’s highest artistic honour, in 2006, and in 2009 Queen’s University, Belfast, inaugurated the Brian Friel Theatre and Centre for Theatre Research.
His full Broadway biography can be found on the Internet Broadway Database at ibdb.com.