Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gary Duggan's new stuff

It's not easy being a full time playwright, y'know. There's all that writing to do for a start. And then of course, there's the real business to keep abreast of. Ask Gary Duggan, the author of the wildly successful E monster drama, Monged, who has now been writing full time for more than a year.

"You have to be a lot more careful about how you spend you time, and not spend too much time dossing. And I really have to make sure I'm on top of every Arts Council application, every prize entry deadline. That's a huge part of the job now..."

As it happens, it is an approach that has always paid off rather well for Duggan, who grabbed the Stewart Parker Award for Monged, and has just recently been chosen as one of the young Irish playwrights who will take part in 20:LOVE, the National Theatre's new writing initiative for 2008. For this season of rehearsed readings (which will also feature something new from Philip McMahon) Duggan has switched his focus from the debauchery of an average night in Dublin, to a more extended period of hedonism with a Manhattan backdrop.

"The play is sort of autobiographical, I spent some time in New York in '99 and it really reflects that…I suppose when I was there, I was always thinking more about blending in as a New Yorker, rather than hitting the Irish bars, and the characters are a bit like that too."

"It is about an Irish guy who is living in New York and is visited by his ex. And they sort of hit the town: so it's a whistle-stop tour of Manhattan…like in Monged, the city is very important in the play and the locations are very specific places, clubs, bars..."

That play, Stopover, will open at the beginning of March, but before that, Duggan's Dedalus Lounge (which is set in a bar based on George's Street's Long Hall) is currently back on the stage, in the Mill Theatre in Dundrum. The play is, by most standards, a pretty grim piece of Christmas theatre, though relieved by nicely worked comedy and a decent Freddy Mercury impersonation.

"I think it has a good blend of comedy and the darker material, in a way that most people kind of find true to their experiences of this time of year...."

It is, indeed, a seasonal play in almost the same way that Fairytale of New York is a Christmas song: you can't quite believe anybody wants to rub your nose in such grimness at this point of the year, but it has enough verve and skilful humour to make you rather enjoy the underlying bleakness.

"Actually, Fairytale of New York is one of my favourite songs," says Duggan.



Anonymous Sorcha Slattery said...

Hi Gary. It's funny while I was looking up potential Irish agents to represent my work as a Writer, I stumbled across The Lisa Richards Agency where listed under her clients I came across a Gary Duggan, and thought, "Isn't that the same Gary Duggan who I did Drama with in 1999, Going to the Isda's in Galway?"
And our play "The Virus" being slated for, well, it just wasn't Shakespearian enough for the judges it seems.
I wonder where everyone is now? I have pictures from our debut night in Galway. I wonder where that guy from Finland is?, Mark I meet occasionally.Nancy is an architect in London,Martin I haven't met since. It was really was great fun and so long ago now.
Anyway just wanted to Congratulate you on your success as a playwright.
All the best.
Sorcha Slattery

10:54 AM  

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