Friel in Leamington Spa

Friel in Leamington Spa

THE Loft Theatre Company, Leamington Spa is presenting Brian Friel’s Translations until Saturday, March 2.

The play is set during the 19th century Ordnance survey of mapping Ireland.

Brian Friel is considered one of the greatest living English-language dramatists, likened to an "Irish Chekhov" because of the reach and intensity of his work.

Brian Friel died in 2015 at the age of 86.

Born in Knockmoyle near Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Brian Friel was the son of a schoolteacher and a postmistress from Glenties in Donegal — an area that would inspire ‘Ballybeg’, the fictional location of many of his plays.

Friel worked as a teacher in Derry in the 1950s. But after moving to Donegal, he began writing short stories — mainly for American publications such as The New Yorker.

By the late 1950s he was writing radio plays for the BBC in Belfast, and by 1964 had produced the seminal work Philadelphia Here I Come — a play which brought him international acclaim.

In general Friel’s work examined the tensions between tradition, changes in society, and how individuals react to them.

A recurrent theme was how history and myth continue to reinforce each other, not just in Ireland but universally.

In 1980 he wrote Translations, a play set in 1830s Donegal. The native Donegal people at that time were almost all Irish speakers.

The play focuses on a detachment of British army soldiers arriving in the locality to map Ballybeg, or Baile Beag.

The compulsory translation of Irish place names into English provides a dramatic metaphor for the turbulent relations between the Irish and the British played out in a small community.

The play is often cited as a perfect image of colonialism at work.



February 28 – March 2

Victoria Colonnade, Leamington Spa, CV31 3AA