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Frank McGuinness Biography

(1956– ), The Factory Girls, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching toward the Somme, Innocence, Carthaginians

play ulster sisters battle

Irish playwright, born in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, educated at University College, Dublin. Since the Abbey's production of his play The Factory Girls (1982), McGuinness has been of crucial importance to contemporary Irish drama. His reputation was confirmed with Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching toward the Somme (1985), a play which follows the thoughts and friendships shared between eight Ulster soldiers as they await the Battle of the Somme. McGuinness confronts their individual bravery and collective loyalty with the futility of their probable deaths. Furthermore, by recalling that 1 July 1916 was the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, the play questions the link between their story and the history of the Ulster Protestant victory with which they identify and are determined to emulate. McGuinness is eclectic in his interests and this is reflected in the variety of his work. His other dramatic works include Innocence (1986), about the life of Caravaggio; Carthaginians (1988); Mary and Lizzie (1989), which explores the lives of two sisters and their relationship with Friedrich Engels; and Someone Who'll Watch Over Me (1992), a hostage drama set in Beirut. Booterstown (1994), McGuinness's first collection of poems, was praised for its lyricism and candid tone. McGuinness has produced a translation of Lorca's Yerma (1987) and versions of Ibsen's Rosmersholm (1987) and Peer Gynt (1988), and Chekhov's Three Sisters (1990).

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