Conor McPherson (muhk-FURS-uhn) was a graduate student at University College, Dublin, when his first play, Rum and Vodka, was performed there in November of 1992. By the end of the 1990’s, he had become the best-known and most highly praised Irish playwright of his generation.
Earlier that year, McPherson and friends from various universities in Dublin had founded the Fly by Night Theatre Company to produce experimental plays, of which McPherson’s quickly proved the most successful. His next play, The Good Thief, was presented in the 1994 Dublin Theatre Festival, and his third, This Lime Tree Bower, won him a London literary agent and publisher. Asked to serve as writer-in-residence for the Bush Theatre in London, McPherson wrote St. Nicholas, a dark, dour monologue delivered by an aged theater critic in the thrall of vampires. The Weir opened at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1997 and enjoyed a lengthy run there and, subsequently, on Broadway. The Weir won a number of important awards, including the 1999 Olivier Award for Best Play and a New York Critics Circle Award that same year. His screenplay for the crime film I Went Down (1997) was awarded Best Screenplay of the Year at the San Sebastian Film Festival. These awards and the success of The Weir in productions in numerous countries transformed McPherson from regional playwright to international literary celebrity in a year’s time.
It is ironic that McPherson’s success began in fringe venues, for despite the trappings of experimentalism in...
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