Peadar de Burca
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Peadar de Burca is an Irish actor, playwright, comedian.
Peadar de Burca is a native of Galway city in the west of Ireland. He rose to fame primarily as a theatre director until he began writing comedy shows that tour extensively around Ireland. His comedic style and writing has often been likened to being more 'American' than Irish and his TV appearances and radio broadcasts have often been antagonistic. RTÉ, Ireland's broadcaster received complaints when he described the Irish Prime Minister as 'Ireland's answer to Shrek'. He was once punched by a female audience member during a performance of his comedy show, Why Men Cheat. The show is based on real men's stories of infidelity and there was confusion over whether de Burca had cheated himself or not.
Adaptations of films
Peadar de Burca started off his theatre company, MorWax Productions in 2002, with a stage version of Reservoir Dogs. The shows success and popularity led to two other stage versions of Tarantino scripts, Pulp Fiction and True Romance. All three productions were sell-out successes and were known for their youthful casts and attempted to bring a different interpretation than the film productions. De Burca always resisted requests to tour the 'Tarantino' shows, saying they were for 'Galway' audiences only'. Other adaptations include, When Harry Met Sally..., Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a highly regarded version of Psycho which was produced by MorWax Productions, but directed by Frances O'Rourke.
Parallel to adapting film works for stage, De Burca directed a string of classical Irish stage shows, keeping in line with the MorWax philosophy of offering theatre for everyone. Three initial sell-out hits included Tom Murphy's Conversations on a Homecoming, John B. Keane's The Field and O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars. The latter is a notoriously difficult show to produce and had never been staged in Galway. It is always seen as a triumph for MorWax that the show sold out its week run at the Town Hall Theatre main stage, despite the company being non-funded and a hostile reaction from local press.
Although an artistic city, Galway lacks the population to sustain longer theatrical runs and has a limited artistic programme. While companies visited with touring Shakespearian production, there was no theatre company producing Shakespeare in Galway. So in 2004, De Burca mounted a successful period version of Macbeth. The thirty strong cast was supplemented by ten musicians and was remembered for its thrilling sword-fights and a strong performance from Emma Daly as Lady Macbeth. Buoyed by this success, De Burca tackled Hamlet the following year. In this production, ten actors played all the parts in a production that included audience participation, a ladder from the stage to the audience balcony and a Player's scene entrance where the actors cycled bikes among the audience. The production had no set, only two antique chests that were manipulated by the cast for whatever effect they desired. Playwright and novelist, John Arden assisted with the production in what many thought was MorWax's finest hour.
De Burca's foray into writing did not begin promisingly. His only writing credit had been a bilingual show during the 1993 Galway Arts Festival, Poitin Rock until his love of graphic novels pushed him to write an original stage version of Batman in 2005. The show was a highly ambitious production, staged in the cavernous Black Box Theatre Galway. With only six actors playing over twenty parts, martial arts, live music, puppets, singing and a three level set, the show was a critical and commercial flop causing one blogger to write the headline, Peadar de Burca stole eighty minutes of my life! Many believe that the fall-out from this show forced him in De Burca in a new direction towards comedy.
Why Men Cheat
There are many different theories as to where the idea for Why Men Cheat came from. De Burca himself has said on record that the idea to write the show came to him in a dream, where former US President Bill Clinton told him to write a show with this title. It has been put to De Burca that he wrote the show form an autobiographical standpoint, an assertion he has always denied. What is known is that De Burca toured around Ireland and England interviewing men who cheated and women who were cheated on and collected their stories.
Many of the guys I spoke to were real losers. These guys weren't James Bond type characters at all, they weren't the type of guys you'd like to hang around with. Most of them were really insecure.
The stories from these men and women were collected and condensed into a ninety-minute monologue driven show that became a hit up and down Ireland, first as a ten-man show, then more famously as a five-man show with each actor taking on more monologues. De Burca, initially only wanted to direct it and refused to take part, although it is said that he wasn't confident about his abilities at delivering comedy directly to an audience. A week before the show opened in Galway, an actor dropped out and the author was forced to take the most demanding monologue, Cheating is Good, a monologue that demanded audience participation and various amounts of improvisation and ad-libbing. The opening night, according to De Burca,
Was a disaster. I'm sitting onstage with nine other actors having to listen to all these jokes I wrote in full view of the audience. The first set of shows were two hours long but with no break and all the actors were bricking it as they had no experience doing comedy monologues. No one laughed, some people thought the show was a self-help group for men who couldn't be faithful. And to top it all off, one of the women that I spoke to and whose monologue is the lynchpin of the show came and sat in the front row. It was horrible.
Luckily local reviewer for the Galway City Tribune, Stephen Glennon gave the show a fierce review that set the trend and the production went from success to success around Ireland, playing to standing ovations almost everywhere. The show is still touring, as a one-man with De Burca himself doing all the parts and is expected in the Hen and Chicken's Theatre, Islington, London, The New Theatre in Temple Bar, Dublin and the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Peadar began writing comedies for MorWax Productions in 2004 with the comedy Why Men Cheat which toured Ireland and was the surprise hit of the Dublin Fringe Festival 2006 where it played to packed out audiences in Andrew's Lane theatre in Dublin. The show is set to make its debut in New York, off-Broadway in June 2009.
To create this show, Peadar spent almost six months travelling around both Ireland and England interviewing men who had cheated on their partners and transformed their stories into an explosive mix of comedy and pathos. The show received a lot of media attention and led to Peadar writing his one – man comedy show, What Men Want. Seen as a follow up to Why Men Cheat it has toured to almost every theatre in Ireland and was written using the same interview technique that was so successful with Why Men Cheat.
Peadar has written three other plays, Like a Virgin, another monologue driven comedy that deals with the experiences of being a virgin in Ireland, Jane's Hero, a play based on the real life exploits of an Irish United Nations soldier who saved orphans in Sarajevo and How The West Was Won! which dealt with US President, Ronald Reagan's visit to Galway.
Current Writing Work
Since March 2010 Peadar has been a regular columnist with Gazeta Wyborcza – Kocham Śląsk jak Irlandię. He is also a regular contributor to Elle Poland and recently begun a new column called Goldeneye for Papermint book magazine. De Burca is currently working on a book Why Men Cheat, based on his interviews with 250 unfaithful men. A premiere of his new show Sunshine is planned for February 2012 in Korez, Katowice.