Playwright and actor David Ireland does not hold back from dealing with controversial and difficult topics. Born in Northern Ireland, his experiences of living in that troubled country inevitably informs his work. His plays create a stir, with no holds barred, often shockingly hilarious, dialogue. As black comedies they expose the raw nerves of identity politics, sexual and family relationships, and contemporary political tensions and polarisations which can drive people to violence and push them to do mad things.
Among his most recent work is the award-winning Cyprus Avenue, performed at the Royal Court in 2016, with Stephen Rea in the lead role, focused on a unionist convinced his new born grandchild is Gerry Adams and has to be killed. Ulster American, performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2018, focuses on the challenges of writing a play about Irish identity and had audiences laughing in horror. Sadie, due to be premiered in Belfast in early 2020 but cancelled due to lockdown, was recently screened on BBC4, is a disturbing dissection of a middle-aged working-class woman’s frustration and anger.
In this special Arts&Society Forum for the Battle of Ideas festival, Wendy Earle talks to David Ireland about truth and politics in theatre, artistic survival in a climate of intolerance and cancel culture, and the comedic possibilities of not holding back – and how he gets away with it!
David Ireland is a Northern Irish-born playwright and actor most known for his award-winning plays Cyprus Avenue and Ulster American. He won the Stewart Parker Award and the Meyer-Whitworth Award in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright 2016. More recently, Sadie was screened on BBC4 and his play YES SO I SAID YES is due to be performed at the Finborough Theatre, Earl’s Court from 23 November to 18 December.
Wendy Earle is the convenor of the Academy of Ideas Arts&Society Forum, and writes on culture and the arts.
This event takes place on Zoom and details will be sent out to ticket holders in advance of the event.