Skip navigation

University College Dublin Logo

Advanced Search

UCD News

Nuacht UCD

Posted 23 January 2009

Brian Friel at 80: Frank McGuinness on adapting Dancing at Lughnasa for the big screen

Widely recognised as Ireland’s greatest living playwright, Brian Friel, who turned 80 this year, has been writing plays for the past 40 years. Philadelphia, Here I Come (1964), Aristocrats (1979), Translations (1980) and Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) are among the plays that helped him to achieve critical acclaim and worldwide success.

For most of his distinguished career, Friel seemed to shy away from film, but during the 1960s he was deeply influenced by the wider revolutions in acting, writing and directing across all media. Although influenced by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, Friel’s writing also owes a debt to powerful films such as Kurosawa’s Rashomon.

Pictured far right: Irish playwright Brian Friel

By reducing the role of the narrator and repositioning the climactic dance sequence in Dancing at Lughnasa, Frank McGuinness attempted to translate what he regarded as a ‘male’ play into ‘a woman’s movie’, with Meryl Streep in the leading role.


Listen to Frank McGuinness on adapting Dancing at Lughnasa for the big screen

Filming Friel: Lughnasa on Screen
Speaker: Frank McGuinness

Right-Click to download file
55.43 MB
Duration: 40:17


Frank McGuinness

Frank McGuinness is Professor of Creative Writing at the UCD School of English and Drama, University College Dublin.

Born in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, his plays include: The Factory Girls(1982),Baglady(1985),Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme(1985), Innocence(1986), Carthaginians(1988),Mary and Lizzie(1989),The Bread Man(1991),Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me(1992),The Bird Sanctuary(1992),Mutabilitie(1997),Dolly West’s Kitchen(1999),Gates of Gold(2002),Speaking Like Magpies(2005),There Came a Gypsy Riding(2007).

He has written versions of many modern classics including plays by Ibsen, Chekhov, Lorca and Brecht. Recent productions include: Racine’s Phaedra(Donmar Warehouse, 2006), Ibsen’s Ghosts (Bristol Old Vic, 2007), Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea(Arcola Theatre, London, 2008) and Sophocles’ Oedipus (RNT, 2008).

>> More News and Events
<< Back to Home

Irish playwright Brian Friel