Anthony Neilson

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Anthony Neilson
Born1967 (age 51–52)
Edinburgh, Scotland
OccupationPlaywright, theatre director, screenwriter

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Anthony Neilson (born 1967 in Edinburgh) is a Scottish playwright and director commonly associated with "in-yer-face theatre" and is known for his collaborative way of writing and workshopping his plays. His work is characterised by the exploration of sex and violence.

Though often considered a pioneer of In-yer-face theatre he has stated that he has "never liked the term because it implies an attempt to repel the audience, which was never my aim" and instead prefers his work to be categorised as "'experimental' theatre".[1]

He began his career at the Finborough Theatre, London.



Neilson studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama but was thrown out for "insubordination", now unoccupied he entered a BBC young writers' competition and won which started him on the path of becoming a writer.[2]

In 2009, his play Stitching was banned by the Maltese State for Obscenity and Blasphemy. It tool a Court Case 9 years to finally reverse the decision. In fact in May 2018, the ECHR ruled that the ban was unlawful. However, the outcry following the case led to the dismantling of Censorship Laws in Malta and to the new Labour Government proposing to remove Obscenity and Blasphemy laws for works of Art.

He also participated in the Bush Theatre's 2011 project Sixty Six Books, writing a piece based upon a book of the King James Bible.[3] He has also written for the television series Spooks.


Neilson has more recently moved into directing with his first feature film The Debt Collector in 1999 which won the Fipresci (International Critics) Award at the Troia International Film Festival. As his writing work involves collaborations he has a massive directorial role in the creation of his plays but in 2007 he was credited as director of his play God in Ruins at the Soho Theatre. At the RSC [4] he directed the world premiere of The Drunks by the Durnenkov Brothers in 2009. In 2010 he directed Caledonia by Alistair Beaton at the Edinburgh Festival.



Radio Plays[edit]

  • The Colours of the King's Rose (radio play)
  • A Fluttering of Wings (radio play)
  • Twisted (radio play)


  • Deeper Still (short film)
  • The Debt Collector (1999) - writer and director
  • Normal the Düsseldorf Ripper (from the play "Normal: The Düsseldorf Ripper") (2009)
  • Spooks (writer - 1 episode) (2010)
  • De Komedie Compagnie (writer - 1 episode) (2011)


  1. ^
  2. ^ Portrait of an Artist, The Guardian
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-04. Retrieved 2014-10-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Anthony Neilson RSC profile Archived January 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Malvern, Jack (23 October 2018). "Edgar Allen Poe's horror classic The Tell‑Tale Heart back from the dead after attic clear‑out". The Times.
  6. ^ The Guardian Jul 24, 2008 - I had the opposite experience to Lyn Gardner of Anthony Neilson's zombie play The Big Lie at Latitude. This was one of my theatrical highlights ...

External links[edit]