Brian Friel: Beginnings / Kelly Matthews

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When Brian Friel died in 2015, the New York Times described him as ' the Irish Chekhov' , and the Guardian called him ' the father of modern Irish drama' . He had long been acclaimed as Ireland' s leading contemporary playwright, with 24 plays for Broadway and West End theatres, including the iconic Faith Healer, Translations and Dancing at Lughnasa. But Friel' s beginnings are more elusive, as was the playwright in his later years. He stopped giving interviews and cultivated a reclusive mystique that grew in proportion to his theatrical success.

Based on newly discovered documents in the BBC and New Yorker archives, Brian Friel: beginnings reveals Friel' s youthful personality and his struggles to get noticed as a young writer. Friel' s correspondence with his first mentors - Belfast BBC radio producer Ronald Mason, New Yorker editor Roger Angell, and theatre director Tyrone Guthrie - shows how he shaped his early work, how he chose to write for the theatre, and how the patterns that became so memorable in his later plays were set in motion by his beginnings.