Lucy Kirkwood

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Lucy Kirkwood FRSL (born in Leytonstone[1] 1984) 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 raised in east London and 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.

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 plays, 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".[3]

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.[4]

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.[5] 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,[6] 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. She is under commission to the Manhattan Theatre Club to write a science play.

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.[7] The play won 2014 Olivier Awards 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).[8]

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.[9] The production transferred to the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway in November 2017 (previews), officially on 12 December 2017, with its original cast.[10][11] The play was nominated for the 2018 Outer Critics Circle Award as Outstanding New Broadway Play.[12] 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).[13]

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.[14] Kirkwood received a commissioning grant from the Manhattan Theatre Club to write the play.[15] Thomas Bockelmann directed Mosquitoes at the German Staatstheater Kassel on 30 August 2018 as a three hour stage production.[16]


In 2014, her drama series The Smoke was televised on Sky 1.[17] It follows the exploits of white watch at a fictional London fire station. She is developing a TV series with Kudos Film & Television and writes for the Company Pictures TV series Skins.[18]


  1. ^ Profile in the Independent, 27 October 2009.
  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. ^ Smith, Rebecca (7 August 2007). "The Umbilical Project: Cut & Uncut Reviews". The Edinburgh Guide. Retrieved 23 May 2008.
  4. ^ Smith, Alistair (22 October 2007). "Terror 2007". The Stage. Retrieved 23 May 2008.
  5. ^ "Tinderbox". The Bush Theatre. 23 April 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2008.
  6. ^ "Arcola Theatre - One of London's leading Off West End theatres".
  7. ^ "Chimerica". Time Out Film, London. Time Out, London. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  8. ^ Brown, Mark. "Olivier awards 2014: Almeida theatre defeats West End giants" The Guardian, 13 April 2014
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Lucy Kirkwood’s 'The Children' Opens on Broadway" Playbill, December 12, 2017
  12. ^ Clement, Olivia. " 'SpongeBob SquarePants' Leads Outer Critics Circle Nominations" Playbill, April 24, 2018
  13. ^ "2018 Tony Award Nominations: 'SpongeBob SquarePants' and 'Mean Girls' Lead the Pack" Playbill, May 1, 2018
  14. ^ Billington, Michael (26 July 2017). "Mosquitoes review – sparring sisters collide in Lucy Kirkwood's science stormer". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  15. ^ Epstein, Sonia (25 January 2018). "Science As Power: Interview, Playwright Lucy Kirkwood". Sloan Science & Film. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  16. ^ Laages, Michael (30 August 2018). "Moskitos – Thomas Bockelmann inszeniert Lucy Kirkwoods Stück am Staatstheater Kassel". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  17. ^ "The Smoke (TV Mini-Series 2014) - IMDb" – via
  18. ^ Kenyon, Mel. "CV" (PDF). Casarotto Ramsay and Associates. Retrieved 23 May 2008.

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