Lucy Kirkwood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lucy Ann Kirkwood FRSL (born October 1983)[1] is a British playwright and screenwriter. She is writer in residence at Clean Break. In June 2018 Kirkwood was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in its "40 Under 40" initiative.[2]

Early life[edit]

Kirkwood was born in Leytonstone and raised in east London. She has a degree in English literature from the University of Edinburgh where she performed as part of improvisational comedy troupe, the Improverts and wrote for the Edinburgh University Theatre Company.[3]

In 2005, she wrote and starred in her first play, Grady Hot Potato, at the Bedlam Theatre. It was also selected for the National Student Drama Festival.



The following year she took two productions of her second play, Geronimo to the Edinburgh Fringe, under the title The Umbilical Project. The two productions, Cut and Uncut, were an experiment in cutting the cord between writer and production. Uncut was directed by Kirkwood herself and Cut by a completely separate company under the direction of Matt Addicott. No contact was made between the two companies during the rehearsal period, prompting the tag line "Two casts, two crews, two directors, two venues, one new play... no communication".[4]

Her third play Guns or Butter, about soldiers being overcome by the horror of war, was written for the Terror 2007 Festival at the Union Theatre, London.[5]

Tinderbox, a dark comedy set in a fictional 21st-century England, premiered at the Bush Theatre in 2008. It starred Jamie Foreman and Sheridan Smith.[6] In the same year she also contributed to the Bush's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. Her version of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, titled Hedda, premiered at London's Gate Theatre in 2008 to favourable reviews.

Kirkwood's promenade play about sex trafficking, It Felt Empty When the Heart Went At First but It Is Alright Now,[7] was produced by Clean Break Theatre at the Arcola Theatre. Her short horror piece Psychogeography premiered at the Bush in 2008 and was revived at Southwark Playhouse.

In 2010, a fresh and humorous version of Beauty and the Beast was devised by Kirkwood and director Katie Mitchell and written by Kirkwood. It premiered at the National Theatre in London as Christmas show in December 2010.

Her play NSFW premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, starring Janie Dee and Julian Barrett and directed by Simon Godwin, in October 2012.

Her play Chimerica examines the relationship between the US and China since the Tiananmen Square protests through the eyes of a former activist, and features over forty scene changes and British-Chinese actors. The play opened at the Almeida Theatre in May 2013 and transferred to the West End in August 2013. The play's title echoes the portmanteau word "Chimerica", invented by economists to define the intertwined economies of the US and China.[8] At the 2014 Olivier Awards, Chimerica won for best new play, best director (Lyndsey Turner), best lighting (Tim Lutkin and Finn Ross), best sound (Carolyn Downing) and best set design (Es Devlin).[9]

Kirkwood's play The Children opened at the Royal Court Theatre in November 2016, directed by James Macdonald and starring Ron Cook, Francesca Annis and Deborah Findlay, receiving positive reviews from critics.[10] The production transferred to the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway in November 2017 (previews), officially on 12 December 2017, with its original cast.[11][12] The play was nominated for the 2018 Outer Critics Circle Award as Outstanding New Broadway Play.[13] The play was nominated for the 2018 Tony Award for Best Play and the Tony Award, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Deborah Findlay).[14]

Rufus Norris directed her stage play Mosquitoes, which illustrates family disputes between sisters by referencing collisions in experimental physics, at London's National Theatre in 2017.[15] Kirkwood received a commissioning grant from the Manhattan Theatre Club to write the play.[16] Thomas Bockelmann directed Mosquitoes at the German Staatstheater Kassel on 30 August 2018 as a three-hour stage production.[17]

Kirkwood's next play was titled The Welkin and concerned the case of a woman convicted of murder who claims to be pregnant, preventing a death sentence from being carried out. The play revolves around a group of 12 matrons assembled to determine the truth of her claim. The Welkin was performed at London's National Theatre in the first half of 2020.[18]

In June 2022 Kirkwood's most recent play Rapture opened at the Royal Court Theatre credited in the marketing under the pseudonym Dave Davidson, and the false title That Is Not Who I Am. The misleading advertisement ties into the themes and world of the story. The play purports to be a verbatim docudrama concerning paranoia and distrust of the UK Government following the 2020 pandemic and ensuing political scandals. It details the relationship, surveillance, and murder of two climate activist content creators, leaving lingering questions about the State's involvement. In the universe of this play, the UK Government has placed an embargo on the Royal Court (or theatre in question) over the contents presented, and the legality of its production are in question. Thus the opening moments of the play include an explanation that the theatre has decided to stage the play covertly. It features both an actor playing Kirkwood and a supposed cameo from the real Kirkwood herself. Kirkwood portrayed this latter version of herself in the original production at select performances.[19]

In 2023, it was announced that Kirkwood would write a new musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Witches at London’s National Theatre.[20]


Kirkwood wrote for the second, third, and fourth series of the teen drama Skins, broadcast between 2008 and 2010. In 2014, her drama series The Smoke, made by Kudos, was televised on Sky 1.[21] It follows the exploits of white watch at a fictional London fire station. She adapted her play Chimerica into a four-part miniseries for Channel 4, broadcast in 2019, and then wrote the four-part series Adult Material, following a woman's life in the adult film industry.[22]

Awards and nominations[edit]


Year Award Category Work Result
2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize[23] It Felt Empty When The Heart Went At First But It Is Alright Now Nominated
2013 Critics’ Circle Theatre Award[24] Best New Play Chimerica Won
Evening Standard Theatre Award[25] Best Play Won
2014 Laurence Olivier Award[26] Best New Play Won
South Bank Sky Arts Award[27][28] Theatre Nominated
Susan Smith Blackburn Prize[29] Won
2018 Tony Award[30] Best Play The Children Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award[31] Outstanding New Broadway Play Nominated


  1. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
  2. ^ Flood, Alison (28 June 2018). "Royal Society of Literature admits 40 new fellows to address historical biases". the Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Lucy Kirkwood: Britain's brightest young stage writer". The Independent. 27 October 2009.
  4. ^ Smith, Rebecca (7 August 2007). "The Umbilical Project: Cut & Uncut Reviews". The Edinburgh Guide. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2008.
  5. ^ Smith, Alistair (22 October 2007). "Terror 2007". The Stage. Retrieved 23 May 2008.
  6. ^ "Tinderbox". The Bush Theatre. 23 April 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2008.
  7. ^ "Arcola Theatre - One of London's leading Off West End theatres". 19 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Chimerica". Time Out Film, London. Time Out, London. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  9. ^ Brown, Mark. "Olivier awards 2014: Almeida theatre defeats West End giants" The Guardian, 13 April 2014
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Lucy Kirkwood's 'The Children' Opens on Broadway" Playbill, December 12, 2017
  13. ^ Clement, Olivia. " 'SpongeBob SquarePants' Leads Outer Critics Circle Nominations" Playbill, April 24, 2018
  14. ^ "2018 Tony Award Nominations: 'SpongeBob SquarePants' and 'Mean Girls' Lead the Pack" Playbill, May 1, 2018
  15. ^ Billington, Michael (26 July 2017). "Mosquitoes review – sparring sisters collide in Lucy Kirkwood's science stormer". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  16. ^ Epstein, Sonia (25 January 2018). "Science As Power: Interview, Playwright Lucy Kirkwood". Sloan Science & Film. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  17. ^ Laages, Michael (30 August 2018). "Moskitos – Thomas Bockelmann inszeniert Lucy Kirkwoods Stück am Staatstheater Kassel". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  18. ^ "The Welkin at the National Theatre, London by Lucy Kirkwood – review round-up". Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  19. ^ Wyver, Kate (19 June 2022). "That Is Not Who I Am review – all is not what it seems in slippery thriller about truth and power". The Guardian.
  20. ^ "Roald Dahl's 'The Witches' to Cast a Song-And-Dance Spell at London's National". 19 April 2023.
  21. ^ "The Smoke (TV Mini-Series 2014) - IMDb" – via
  22. ^ Carr, Flora (29 September 2020). "Why the cast of Channel 4 drama Adult Material visited a real-life porn set". Radio Times. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  23. ^ "2000's | The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize". Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  24. ^ "2013 Results | Critics' Circle Theatre Awards". 28 November 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  25. ^ "London Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2013: the winners and shortlist". Evening Standard. 8 November 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  26. ^ "Olivier Winners 2014". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  27. ^ "South Bank Sky Arts awards shortlist announced". the Guardian. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  28. ^ "Arctic Monkeys, Tracey Emin and Broadchurch scoop South Bank Sky Arts". Evening Standard. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  29. ^ "2010's | The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize". Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  30. ^ Nyren, Erin (11 June 2018). "Tony Award Winners 2018: The Complete List". Variety. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  31. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, My Fair Lady & More Win 2018 Outer Critics Circle Awards". Retrieved 6 December 2020.

External links[edit]