Widely recognized as Ireland's greatest living dramatist, Brian Friel looks like a self-satisfied leprechaun. His devilish smile and elusive nature have successfully frustrated media and literary critics alike in their attempts to secure the revelational "pot o'gold" at the end of an astounding theatrical career. Their failure, in general, is due to the fact that Brian Friel is simply not finished yet. Thirty years after the international success of Philadelphia, Here I Come!, his latest play, Wonderful Tennessee, is enjoying celebrated reviews in Dublin, London, and New York.
Born on 9 January 1929 in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, Brian Friel was formally educated in Derry, Belfast, and County Kildare, Eire, where he received a B.A. from Maynooth College (the National Seminary) in 1948. After a postgraduate teacher-training course at Saint Joseph's College, Belfast, Friel taught for more than a decade in Derry. He retired in 1960 at the age of thirty-one to become a full-time writer. His first play, The Enemy Within, premiered at the Abbey Theatre in 1962, but not until 1964--after spending two months studying dramaturgy at the G uthrie Theatre in Minneapolis--did Friel achieve international acclaim with Philadelphia, Here I Come!, the hit of that summer's Dublin Theatre Festival.
Falling hard upon the heels of that success, The Loves of Cass McGuire ( 1966) and Lovers: Winners and Losers ( 1967) firmly established Friel as a critically acclaimed dramatist in Ireland and abroad. One of his most important achievements as both an Irishman and a playwright was the foundation of the Derry-based Field Day Theatre Company in 1980 with his close friend, actor Stephen Rea. This association led to the production of his two finest plays-- Translations ( 1980) and The Communication Cord ( 1982). Translations has