Martin McDonagh

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Martin McDonagh
Martin McDonagh at 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (1).jpg
Born (1970-03-26) 26 March 1970 (age 45)
Camberwell, London, England
Citizenship British
Occupation Playwright, screenwriter, film director
Years active 1996–present
Notable work In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths

Martin McDonagh (/məkˈdɒnə/; born 26 March 1970) is a playwright, screenwriter and film director, born and raised in London with both British and Irish citizenship.[1] He has been described as one of the most important living Irish playwrights.[2]

Early life[edit]

McDonagh was born in Camberwell, London, England to Irish parents. His mother (originally from Killeenduff, Easky, County Sligo) and his father (originally from Lettermullen, Connemara, County Galway) later moved back to Galway, leaving McDonagh and his brother (writer-director John Michael McDonagh) to grow up in London.



Separated into two trilogies, McDonagh's first six plays are located in and around County Galway, where he spent his holidays as a child. The first is set in Leenane, a small village on the west coast of Ireland, and consists of The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1996), A Skull in Connemara (1997) and The Lonesome West (1997). His second trilogy consists of The Cripple of Inishmaan (1997), The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2001) and The Banshees of Inisheer (the third play was never published, as McDonagh insisted it "isn't any good"),[3] and are set across a trio of islands that are located off the coast of County Galway.

McDonagh's first non-Irish play The Pillowman is set in a fictitious totalitarian state and premiered at the National Theatre in 2003, after a rehearsed reading in Galway in 1997. A Behanding in Spokane is McDonagh's first play that is set in the United States and it premiered in New York City in 2010—lead actor Christopher Walken was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance as a killer looking for the hand he lost in his youth. McDonagh also penned two prize-winning radio plays, one of which is The Tale of the Wolf and the Woodcutter.[4]

In February 2010, an announcement revealed that McDonagh was working on a new stage musical with composer Tom Waits and director Robert Wilson.[5]

The Leenane Trilogy[edit]

The story of the dysfunctional relationship between a spinster and her domineering mother, during the course of which the former faces her last chance at love, and the latter faces a rather grim end. The play was well received on its opening night in Galway in 1996 and was then shown at New York's Atlantic Theater Company in 1998. The play was later transferred to Broadway and received a Tony Award for Best Play nomination.

  • A Skull in Connemara (1997)

A Connemara man is employed to exhume skeletons in an overcrowded graveyard and he encounters the wife whom he was once accused of killing.

Two brothers bicker in the aftermath of the supposedly accidental fatal shooting of their father. The play received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play in 1999.[citation needed]

The Aran Islands Trilogy[edit]

A dark comedy in which a crippled teenager schemes to attain a role in Man of Aran. The play opened in 1997 at the Royal National Theatre (Cottesloe) in London, and opened the following year at Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York City, with Ruaidhri Conroy in the title role on both occasions (also in 1998, Frederick Koehler played the title role in Los Angeles, USA). In December 2008, The Cripple of Inishmaan was produced in New York City by the Atlantic Theater Company, in conjunction with The Druid Theatre Company of Galway, Ireland.[6]

A dark comedy in which the insane leader of an INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) splinter group discovers that his best friend, a cat, has been killed. The play was produced off-Broadway in 2006 by the Atlantic Theater Company, before it was transferred to Broadway and received a 2006 Tony Award nomination for Best Play.[citation needed]

  • The Banshees of Inisheer

The finale of the Aran Islands trilogy (unproduced and unpublished).

Other plays[edit]

A writer in a non-specified totalitarian state is interrogated over the content of several of his Brothers Grimm-style short stories. The play was awarded the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2004 and received a 2005 Tony Award nomination for Best Play.

A play in which the character of Carmichael has been searching for his missing left hand for a quarter of a century.

  • Hangmen (2015)

A play following Harry Wade, England's second-best hangman, after the abolition of hanging in Great Britain in 1965.


McDonagh has stated that he prefers writing films to plays, as he holds a "respect for the whole history of films and a slight disrespect for theatre." In a conversation with Irish drama critic Fintan O'Toole in BOMB Magazine, McDonagh further explained, "It's not that I don't respect theatre. I'm intelligent enough to know that a play can completely inspire a person as much as a film...[but] theatre isn't something that's connected to me, from a personal point of view, I can't appreciate what I'm doing."[7]

In 2006, McDonagh won an Academy Award for his short film Six Shooter (2005), which is the playwright's first film. Six Shooter is a black comedy that features Brendan Gleeson, Ruaidhri Conroy, David Wilmot and Aisling O'Sullivan, and was shot on location in Wicklow, Waterford and Rosslare. In the short film, Gleeson's character encounters a strange, and possibly psychotic, young man during a homeward train journey following his wife's death.

McDonagh then entered into an agreement with the Focus Features film production company to direct In Bruges, a feature-length film based on his own screenplay, in which two Irish hitmen hide in the Flemish city of Bruges after a problematic job. Released in the USA in 2008, the film features Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson. In Bruges was the Opening Night film for the 2008 Sundance Festival and the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, and McDonagh received a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the 81st Academy Awards, after the film garnered positive critical reviews.[8][9][10]

In a 2008 interview with the Stop Smiling magazine, McDonagh revealed "I've got a couple of film scripts that are ready to go. I'm not going to do anything with them for a couple of years, until I've traveled and had some fun. But there's one called Seven Psychopaths; if I do another film, that'll be it. I hope you like it."[11] The production of the film was confirmed in May 2011 and it was eventually released in North America on 12 October 2012—Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken and Tom Waits star in the film.

Plays staged in Iran[edit]

In August 2013, The Pillowman was staged at Arasbaran Cultural House in Tehran. The play was directed by Mohammad Yaghoubi and Ayda Keikhai, and received a warm welcome by Iranian theater-goers.[12] In December 2014, The Lieutenant of Inishmore was staged at Tajrobeh Theater, Tehran. The play was directed by Morteza Meshkat.[13]

Recurring collaborators[edit]

Actor The Cripple of Inishmaan (West End) The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Broadway) Six Shooter The Beauty Queen of Leenane (West End) The Pillowman (Broadway) In Bruges A Behanding in Spokane Seven Psychopaths The Lonesome West (West End) Total
Ruaidhri Conroy NoN NoN 2
David Wilmot NoN NoN 2
Brendan Gleeson NoN NoN 2
Colin Farrell NoN NoN 2
Željko Ivanek NoN NoN NoN 3
Michael Stuhlbarg NoN NoN 2
Sam Rockwell NoN NoN 2
Christopher Walken NoN NoN 2
Brían F. O'Byrne NoN NoN 2


Year Film Functioned as Notes
Director Screenwriter Producer
2000 The Second Death Yes Executive producer
2004 Six Shooter Yes Yes Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film
Cork Film Festival Award for Best First Short by an Irish Director
Foyle Festival Prize for Best Irish Short
IFTA Award for Best Short Fiction
Audience Award – Leuven International Short Film Festival
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Short Film
Nominated – IFTA Award for Best Breakthrough Talent
2008 In Bruges Yes Yes BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
BSFC Award for Best New Filmmaker
Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay
Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Screenplay
IFTA Award for Best Script – Film
Pauline Kael Breakout Award
PFCS Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
PFCS Award for Breakout Behind the Camera
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated – ALFS Award for Breakthrough British Filmmaker
Nominated – ALFS Award for Screenwriter of the Year
Nominated – BAFTA Film Award for Outstanding British Film
Nominated – Bronze Horse – Stockholm International Film Festival
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Filmmaker
Nominated – Douglas Hickox Award
Nominated – FCCA Award for Best Foreign Film – English Language
Nominated – IFTA Award for Best Director – Film
Nominated – Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated – Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Filmmaker
2011 The Guard Yes Executive producer;
Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, his brother
2012 Seven Psychopaths Yes Yes Yes People's Choice Best Midnight Madness Film
Nominated – Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film
Nominated – Best Film – BFI London Film Festival
Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated – IFTA Award for Best Director – Film
Nominated – IFTA Award for Best Script – Film
Nominated – Peter Sellers Award for Comedy
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Writing


Critics' Circle Theatre Awards[edit]

Drama Desk Awards[edit]

Laurence Olivier Awards[edit]

Tony Awards[edit]

  • Tony Award for Best Play
    • 1998: The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Nomination)
    • 1999: The Lonesome West (Nomination)
    • 2005: The Pillowman (Nomination)
    • 2006: The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Nomination)


  1. ^ "Seven steps to Martin McDonagh". Irish Times. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Zinoman, Jason (7 March 2010). "Is He Mellower? Ask the Guy Missing a Hand". New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  3. ^ The Pillowman (2006–2007) at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Accessed 5 March 2009. Archived 26 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ The Tale of the Wolf and the Woodcutter[dead link]
  5. ^ "New Musical From Tom Waits on the Horizon". Tom Waits. Tom Waits & ANTI Records. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Healy, Patrick (16 January 2014). "Daniel Radcliffe Returning to Broadway in 'Cripple of Inishmaan'". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Fintan O'Toole (1998). "Martin McDonagh". BOMB Magazine. New Art Publications. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Tim Robey (18 April 2008). "Film reviews: In Bruges, Fool's Gold, Street Kings and more". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Wally Hammond (15 April 2008). "In Bruges (18)". Time Out London. Time Out. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "In Bruges (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, Inc. 2008. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "Q&A: Martin McDonagh, director of in Bruges". Stop Smiling. Stop Smiling Media, LLC. 15 February 2008. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  12. ^ The Pillowman staged in Tehran
  13. ^ McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore on Tehran stage
  14. ^

External links[edit]