While Derry playwright Brian Foster was busy presenting his hit play, “When The Bogside Spinster Met The Carndonagh Stud”, to huge audiences in the Millennium Forum last week, what those same audiences didn’t know was that another of his plays was opening simultaneously in New York.
This week, Brian was both surprised and delighted to receive news that his play, “Myra’s Story”, has won a major award at the prestigious United Solo Festival – held annually in Theatre Row on New York’s legendary 42nd Street.
This is the biggest and most prestigious festival of one-person plays held anywhere in the world. Even getting a play accepted into it is a major achievement. Over 140 plays perform there from the four corners of the earth.
Past award winners at the festival include, Carrie Fisher, Robin Williams, John Hurt, Bette Midler, Billy Crystal, Kevin Spacey and a whole host of other internationally famous stars. And, now, Brian Foster, and the Canadian actor playing the part, Jennifer Cornish, have joined that elite role of honour.
Reacting to the news, Brian said: “Myra’s Story is an adaptation of my most successful play ever, “Maire - a Woman of Derry”.
“When that one came to its natural end in 2013, after 12 unforgettable years with Carmel Mc Cafferty in the role, I decided to re-set the story in Dublin, and bring in a lot of other changes.
“This allowed me to do things with the play I had always wanted to do, but didn’t dare because Maire had become so much a part of Derry culture.
“So, I sat down and did a complete overhaul. I moved the story to the mean streets of Dublin, wrote the female role in the Dublin vernacular for a born and bred homeless Dublin alcoholic woman.
“An Irish tour with a well known Dublin actor fell apart last year at the very last minute.
“But for the past three years the play has performed off and on in Canada by Jennifer Cornish, a brilliant yet largely unknown actor.
“It has won several awards there. So this year we decided to apply for acceptance into the big one, the one every writer aspires to. The United Solo Festival in New York.
“We had to undergo a huge vetting process, and were shocked even to be accepted.
“And now that the play has picked up the important ‘Best Tragedy’ award there, I have my fingers crossed that this
is the breakthrough I’ve been working towards for the past 20 years.”
But he stresses that the original play, Maire – a Woman of Derry, still exists in its own right, and may make a reappearance in Derry in five or so years time.
However, for now, he will be concentrating his efforts in getting productions of the new, Myra’s Story, up and running.
The Derry playwright acknowledges that there could be interesting times ahead.