Brian Friel

Brian Friel (frēl), 1929–, Irish playwright, b. Killyglogher, Northern Ireland. Treating themes that enmesh both Irelands, he has become the most acclaimed contemporary Irish dramatist. Friel's family moved to Derry (1939), and he attended St. Patrick's College, Maynooth (B.A., 1949) and a teacher's training college. He taught for 10 years, published short stories, produced radio plays, and became a full-time writer in 1960. He studied (1963) with Tyrone Guthrie at his theater in Minneapolis, and while there wrote his first successful play, Philadelphia, Here I Come!, which deals with a young Irishman considering emigration to the United States. Since the 1970s Friel has written much about the political realities of the two Irelands, as in The Freedom of the City (1973) and Living Quarters (1977). In 1980 he and actor Stephen Rea formed the Field Day Theater Company, Northern Ireland, which soon (1981) produced Friel's Translations. Friel has also written of Irish family life, skillfully mingling it with surreal effects, in such plays as Aristocrats (1979) and the internationally known Dancing at Lughnasa (1990; Tony Award). Among his other plays are Lovers (1968), Volunteers (1975), Faith Healer (1979), Making History (1988), and Give Me Your Answer, Do! (1999). Friel also continues to write short stories.

See biography by G. O'Brien (1980); studies by E. S. Maxwell (1973), U. Dantanus (1985), E. Andrews (1995), and R. Pine, ed. (1997).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Brian Friel: A Sociological Appreciation of an Irish Playwright
Flanagan, Kieran.
Contemporary Review, Vol. 266, No. 1551, April 1995
Imperialism and Theatre: Essays on World Theatre, Drama, and Performance
J. Ellen Gainor.
Routledge, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Linguistic Imperialism, the Early Abbey Theatre, and the Translations of Brian Friel"
The Politics of Irish Drama: Plays in Context from Boucicault to Friel
Nicholas Grene.
Cambridge University Press, 2000
Molly Astray: Revisioning Ireland in Brian Friel's Molly Sweeney
Moloney, Karen M.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 46, No. 3, Fall 2000
Monoogue as Dramatic Action in Brian Friel's 'Faith Healer' and 'Molly Sweeney.'
DeVinney, Karen.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 45, No. 1, Spring 1999
Irish Playwrights, 1880-1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook
Bernice Schrank; William W. Demastes.
Greenwood Press, 1997
Modern Irish Writers: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
Alexander G. Gonzalez.
Greenwood Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Brian Friel: (1929-)" begins on p. 85
Acting between the Lines: The Field Day Theatre Company and Irish Cultural Politics, 1980-1984
Marilynn J. Richtarik.
Clarendon Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "'Talking to Ourselves': The Early Years"
The Abbey Theatre, 1899-1999: Form and Pressure
Robert Welch.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Brian Friel in multiple chapters
An American in Ireland: The Representation of the American in Brian Friel's Plays
Germanou, Maria.
Comparative Drama, Vol. 38, No. 2-3, Summer-Fall 2004
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