Marina Carr in Conversation with Lisa Dwan on Greek Drama, Beckett, and Adaptation

Tuesday, April 23, 2019  6:15pm The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

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“Love is for fools and children. Our bond is harder, like two rocks we are, grindin’ off of wan another and maybe all the closer for that.”
-By the Bog of Cats


Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats premiered on Dublin’s national stage, the Abbey Theatre, in 1998 to wide acclaim. Based on Euripides’ Medea, the play tells the story of Hester Swane, an outsider in her small rural community, driven to acts of vengeance and self-destruction. The play raises important questions about the status of outsiders, the treatment of women and mothers, and the roots of violence. In this conversation, Lisa Dwan and Marina Carr will discuss the stakes in adaptations of the Classics, Dwan and Carr’s shared Beckett influence, as well as the role of women in theater today.

Sponsored by:

The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities; Office of the Executive Vice President; Arts & Sciences; Department of English and Comparative Literature; The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Brought up in County Offaly, Marina Carr graduated form University College Dublin in 1987 with a degree in English and Philosophy. She was Writer-in-Residence at the Abbey and Trinity College Dublin. Her plays include The Cordelia Dream(RSC), Marble (Abbey, Teatro Vascello Rome), 16 Possible Glimpses (Abbey), Phaedra Backwards (Mccarter Princeton), On Raftery's Hill (Royal Court, London), Portia Coughlan (Royal Court and the Abbey Dublin), By the Bog of Cats (Abbey, Dublin and Wyndham's Theatre, London), The Mai (Peacock, Dublin/Abbey, Dublin/Tricycle/McCarter, Princeton), Low In The Dark (Project Arts Centre, Dublin), Ullaloo (Abbey, Dublin Theatre Festival), Ariel (Abbey), and two plays for children, As Meat Is To Salt (Abbey) and The Giant Blue Hand (The Ark). Awards include Irish Times Playwright Award 1998, The Susan Smith Blackburn Award for Portia Coughlan, Best New Irish Play at Dublin Theatre Festival 1994, The EM Foster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American/ Ireland Fund Award, The Macaulay Fellowship and The Hennessy Award. She is a member of Aosdána.

Lisa Dwan is an Irish performer, director & writer. Having originally trained in the UK as a ballet dancer, including dancing with Rudolf Nureyev in Coppelia in Dublin, & The London Lewis Ballet Company she began acting professionally in her teens. She has worked extensively in theatre, film, and television, both internationally and in her native Ireland. She is currently shooting a new T.V series for Netflix called TOP BOY written by Ronan Bennett and produced by the artist Drake due for release Sept 2019.

Lisa has recently completed starring in Harold Pinters The Lover & The Collection at STC in Washington DC where she won the 2019 Emery Battis award for outstanding contribution to acting. Most recently Dwan who is hailed by Ben Brantley in the New York Times as “the nonpareil interpreter of Samuel Beckett”, completed a world premiere of a one-woman production of her own adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s 1950’s prose text No’s Knife at The Old Vic Theatre London & Abbey Theatre Dublin. Prior to this Dwan has performed all over the world in the critically acclaimed “Beckett Trilogy” of Not I/Footfalls/Rockaby. Other recent theatre includes: world premiere in title role of Anna Karenina in a new adaptation by Marina Carr for The Abbey Theatre Dublin, Shining City (Off-Broadway, Irish Repertory Theatre), Text for Nothing (White Light Festival, Lincoln Center), Not I (Royal Court Theatre London), Beside the Sea (Southbank Center London), Margot, Diary of an Unhappy Queen (Barbican London), The Journey Between Us (Southwark Playhouse London), Ramin Gray’s production of Illusions by Ivan Viripaev (Bush Theatre London) and many more; Dwan writes, presents, and lectures regularly on theatre, culture and Beckett (BBC radio and television, NPR, the Guardian, the Telegraph, Independent, École Normale Supérieure, Trinity College Dublin, Reading University, Cambridge University, Oxford University, Princeton, NYU, MIT and Georgetown University. She has written and presented several documentaries for both TV and Radio across many platforms for BBC & SKY Arts on Samuel Beckett. She recently completed a documentary for the BBC on Dante set in Florence. 

In 2017 she held the Atelier residency in Princeton University teaching a course on Becketts late prose work. Dwan was a fellow at the School of Art and Ballet at New York University 2017-2018. Lisa is currently a fellow at MIT Arts where she teaches a mini seminar series on Samuel Beckett. For the past two years Dwan has worked at Columbia University where she has taught at the Institute of Women and Gender studies developing a new theatre piece with Colm Toibin based on Antigone ‘Pale Sister’ and a new version of Medea with Margaret Atwood.‘Pale Sister’ will have its world premiere at the Gate Theatre Dublin in Oct 2019 and will open at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York January 2020

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