‘Friel should have won Nobel Prize’ says Abbey Theatre director

The late Brian Friel should have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, according to the director of the Abbey Theatre.

Fiach Mac Conghail, the director of National Theatre of Ireland, made his comments at the unveiling of the Abbey’s 2016 programme yesterday.

“Brian — I’ve called him this before — he’s one of those nation builders, those towering giants of Irish literature, one of the best dramatists in the world, at least five of his plays that will remain classics,” Mr Mac Conghail said.

‘Friel should have won Nobel Prize’ says Abbey Theatre director

“From my point of view, it’s a personal loss, he was a great friend of mine but he should have got the Nobel Prize a long time ago.”

Mr Friel, who died on October 2, won numerous international awards for his work, including a Tony award in 1992 for Dancing at Lughnasa.

“I’m glad he was acknowledged by this country in multiple ways but he’s definitely somebody who should have [won the Nobel Prize in Literature], because he dealt with local stories that went global and for that alone he should have got it,” said Mr Mac Conghail, who is celebrating his 10th year as the Abbey’s director.

Also in attendance at the launch of the Abbey’s 2016 programme, Waking the Nation, was actor Kate Stanley Brennan and Love/Hate’s Ian-Lloyd Anderson.

Both will star in the theatre’s production of The Plough and the Stars for the centenary year.

This modern interpretation of Sean O’Casey’s masterpiece will run in the Abbey from March to April before embarking on a national and international tour of North America. Mr Mac Conghail is hopeful it will get an off-Broadway showing.

“There’s a lot of interest in it still. We’re on a North American tour; we’re doing six cities across North America at the moment, starting in Boston, so we’re hoping it will get there [New York], yeah. I can’t comment on who we’re talking to but our hope is that it’ll go straight to New York.”

Also being produced by the Abbey for 2016 is the world premiere of Cyprus Avenue. This black comedy by David Ireland explores contemporary Ulster loyalism and stars Oscar-nominated actor Stephen Rea.

William Shakespeare’s Othello is also being staged for the centenary year as is Tom Murphy’s The Wake.

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