The Meadows Prize is going Gaelic this year. The two winners of the SMU arts-residency award, each worth $25,000, are Irish playwright-screenwriter Enda Walsh (left) and Dublin director-choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan (right). What’s more, the two, who have known each other for years, will create their first collaborative work with SMU students during their four-week residency in fall 2012.
More significant than their country of origin is the challenging nature of their work. Once again, Meadows School of the Arts dean Jose Bowen and the Meadows judges are trying to push Dallasites past the mainstream and conventional, represented by the comfort zone of our leading performing-arts groups, the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera, the Texas Ballet Theatre and the Dallas Theater Center. Previous winners of the Meadows Prize have included new-music ensemble eighth blackbird, the innovative arts-production team Creative Time and Chinese dancer-designer-choregrapher, Shen Wei (who will be arriving for his residency soon — creating a work with students for their Spring Dance concert).
Although still not as well-known in America as his playwright-compatriots, Martin McDonagh and Conor McPherson, Walsh is already the author of some 20 plays, including Disco Pigs, Chatroom and The Walworth Farce (the last one the New York Times called “a galloping gothic comedy … a Hibernian Three Stooges routine, directed by a drunken Dadaist.”) Walsh is the co-author of the film Hunger, with director Steve McQueen, about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, and he’s currently represented off-Broadway with both Misterman, starring Cillian Murphy (best known as the Scarecrow in The Dark Knight) and Once, an acclaimed musical adaptation of the independent film of the same name about a busker and an immigrant falling in love on the streets of Dublin. Once is headed for Broadway next year. Walsh has also written film adaptations of his plays, Disco Pigs (starring Cillian Murphy) and Chatroom. Earlier this year, Washington’s Studio Theatre held New Ireland: An Enda Walsh Festival.
Keegan-Dolan is the founder-director-choreographer of Dublin’s Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre, called “one of the most daring and highly original dance theatre companies in the world” by the London Times. He has made a name for himself with dancework that is often irreverent, violent, sexually explicit and homoerotic; it’s also known for combining narrative and movement with spoken word and song. Before establishing Fabulous Beast in Dublin in the late ’90s, Keegan-Dolan worked in London as a movement director on prestigious opera productions. Two years ago, his work was nominated for an Olivier Award; he radically re-invented Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in a co-production with the English National Opera. His choreography can be seen in the 2008 film version of the Stravinsky opera, The Rake’s Progress, and earlier this year, he collaborated with folk-rock musician Liam Ó Maonlaí in adapting his 2005 solo album, Rian, to the stage. (The image outfront is from Rian.)
In return for accepting the $25,000 Meadows Prize, each winner has to reside in Dallas for one to two months. They’ll work with SMU students and local arts groups, teaching classes or performing. And they must leave what’s termed a ‘lasting legacy,’ meaning generally a new work of art.
The full press release follows:
SMU’S MEADOWS SCHOOL OF THE ARTS ANNOUNCES RECIPIENTS OF THIRD ANNUAL MEADOWS PRIZE
DALLAS (SMU) — The Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University has selected two Irish artists – choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan and playwright and screenwriter Enda Walsh – as the recipients of the third annual Meadows Prize arts residency.
Dublin native Michael Keegan-Dolan has been widely referred to as “the most unique choreographic voice to have emerged from Ireland in the last half century.” He is co-founder and artistic director of Dublin’s Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre, an award-winning company launched in 1997. He has written, directed, choreographed and co-produced critically acclaimed works with Fabulous Beast that combine the visual element of dance with the narrative power of theatre. His choreographic works have been produced at prestigious venues throughout Europe and the U.S., including the Royal Opera House in London, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, and the Houston Grand Opera.
Enda Walsh, also a Dublin native, achieved prominence when he won two prestigious playwriting awards in 1997, the George Devine Award and the Stewart Parker Award, with his play Disco Pigs, a story of an obsessive teen relationship that ends in tragedy. He has since written numerous other award-winning plays, including The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom, and has been named by the Guardian as “one of the most dazzling wordsmiths of contemporary theatre.” Walsh is also a successful screenwriter; his 2008 biopic, Hunger, told the story of the final days of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands and won a host of awards, including the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Walsh currently lives in London.
The pair will be in residency at SMU at the same time in fall 2012 for four weeks. They will collaborate with SMU theatre and dance students to create a new dance/theatre piece tentatively slated for a major European festival in 2013. The piece also will receive public workshop performances in Dallas during their residency.
“Michael and Enda were nominated separately by two individuals, but we subsequently learned that not only have they known each other for more than 20 years, they were looking for an opportunity to collaborate on a large project,” said José Bowen, dean of the Meadows School. “They are both daring artists with compatible aesthetics, and it seemed a perfect opportunity for our students and for Dallas.”
Inaugurated in October 2009, the Meadows Prize is presented each fall to up to two pioneering artists. It includes support for a four-to-eight-week residency in Dallas, in addition to a $25,000 stipend. In return, recipients are expected to interact in a substantive way with Meadows students and collaborating arts organizations, and to leave a lasting legacy in Dallas, such as a work of art that remains in the community, a composition or piece of dramatic writing that would be performed locally, or a new way of teaching in a particular discipline.
Bios of Michael Keegan-Dolan and Enda Walsh, and additional background on the Meadows Prize, follow.
Born in Dublin, Michael Keegan-Dolan is considered one of Ireland’s most talented, challenging and innovative choreographers, recognized for his ability to fuse the visual immediacy of dance with the narrative strength of theatre. He is co-founder and artistic director of Dublin’s Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre, an award-winning company launched in 1997. Fabulous Beast creates productions that have their roots in Ireland and Irish experience, but deal with universal and often controversial issues in modern society, making them accessible and challenging entertainment for a large audience.
With Fabulous Beast, Keegan-Dolan has created such works as Sunday Lunch (1997), Fragile (1999), The Flowerbed (2000), Giselle (2003), The Bull (2005), James Son of James (2007), and The Rite of Spring (2009), a co-production with English National Opera.
Giselle, The Bull and The Rite of Spring were all nominated for Olivier Awards (the British equivalent of the Tony Awards), and The Bull won the U.K. Critics’ Circle Award for Best Modern Choreography in 2008. That year Keegan-Dolan and Fabulous Beast also received a nomination for the 2009 Europe Prize New Theatrical Realities, the first Irish company ever to be nominated for the prestigious award. Fabulous Beast also won the Judges’ Special Award in the Irish Times Theatre Awards in 2003.
Keegan-Dolan’s other choreographic work includes productions of Ariodante, Manon and Alcina at the English National Opera; The Rake’s Progress (La Monnaie, Royal Opera House Covent Garden); Faust and Macbeth (Royal Opera House); The Duchess of Malfi, Carousel and The Oedipus Plays (National Theatre, London); Idomeneo (De Vlaamse Opera); The Love for Three Oranges (Cologne Opera); Pique Dame and Ariodante (Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich); and Ariodante and Manon (Houston Grand Opera). Michael Keegan-Dolan and Fabulous Beast have been artistic associates of London’s Barbican Centre – a U.K. counterpart to New York’s Lincoln Center – since 2007.
Keegan-Dolan’s newest work, Rian, a collaboration with musician Liam Ó Maonlaí, was performed in October in the U.K. to critical acclaim, and is expected to tour internationally in 2012. The production takes its title from Ó Maonlaí’s 2005 solo album Rian, which means “mark” or “trace” in Irish. Rian explores the tension and harmony between Irish traditional music and modern dance and was created as a response to “the current seismic changes in Irish society.” Keegan-Dolan is also directing a production of Julius Caesar for the English National Opera in 2012 and has several other projects in the works.
For more information visit http://www.fabulousbeast.net/site.html.
Enda Walsh is an Irish playwright born in Dublin and currently living in London. Having written for the Dublin Youth Theatre, he moved to Cork where he wrote Fishy Tales for the Graffiti Theatre Company, followed by Ginger Ale Boy for Corcadorca Theatre Company. His main breakthrough came with the production of his play Disco Pigs in collaboration with director Pat Kiernan of Corcadorca. The play won three awards, including the Stewart Parker and George Devine Awards in 1997, and was made into a film, for which he wrote the screenplay, in 2001.
Productions of his plays at the Edinburgh Festival have won four Edinburgh Fringe First Awards, two Critic’s Awards and a Herald Archangel Award (2008). His numerous other honors include an Abbey Theatre Writer in Association Award in 2006 and, for a production of New Electric Ballroom at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, an Obie Award in 2010. His plays, notably Disco Pigs, Bedbound, Small Things, Chatroom, New Electric Ballroom and The Walworth Farce, have been translated into more than 20 languages and have had productions throughout Europe and in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. He has written two radio plays, with Four Big Days in the Life of Dessie Banks for RTÉ winning the IPA Radio Drama Award and The Monotonous Life of Little Miss P for the BBC commended at the Gran Prix Berlin. His commissioned work includes plays for Paines Plough in London, the Druid Theatre in Galway, the Kammerspiele in Munich and the Royal National’s Connections Project in London. He co-wrote the screenplay of Hunger, which was directed by Steve McQueen and stars Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, the IRA hunger striker who starved himself to death in protest over British rule. Hunger won 33 awards worldwide, including the Caméra d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival, Best Film Award from the Evening Standard British Film Awards 2009 and Heartbeat Award at the Dinard International Film Festival, and a nomination for Best British Film at the British Academy Film Awards. Walsh wrote an adaptation of his play Chatroom for a film directed by Hideo Nakata, which was selected for the Un Certain Regard section at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. He is currently under commission for two films: an adaptation of the children’s story ,em>Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson, and Into That Darkness, the story of Franz Stangl, SS commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka concentration camps. Earlier this fall, Walsh participated in the Bush Theatre of London’s 2011 project Sixty-Six Books, for which he wrote a piece based upon a chapter of the King James Bible.
Walsh has three plays being performed in New York and Chicago in early December. Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago opened his latest play, Penelope, inspired by The Odyssey and Homer’s tale of the doomed suitors wooing Odysseus’s wife, on December 1. An acclaimed revival of his early play, Misterman, began at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn on Nov. 30, starring Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Inception, In Time). His musical adaptation of the Oscar-winning film Once is being performed Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop and is universally expected to transfer to Broadway in early 2012.
PREVIOUS MEADOWS PRIZE WINNERS
The first two winners of the Meadows Prize, announced in October 2009, were Grammy-winning contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird and New York-based public arts organization Creative Time. Eighth blackbird’s residency focused on developing new curriculum to help musicians become more entrepreneurial and engaged in their own career plans. It became part of a new Meadows School initiative that included the launch of the nation’s first minor in arts entrepreneurship. Creative Time’s residency took the form of three visits to Dallas to meet with a wide range of members of the art community, including artists, collectors, gallery and museum executives, critics, government officials, educators and others. It culminated in spring 2011 with a report in which Creative Time presented their recommendations for growing and nurturing the arts in Dallas.
The second two winners, announced in December 2010, were playwright and performer Will Power and choreographer Shen Wei, artistic director of New York-based Shen Wei Dance Arts. Power’s work in Dallas is a partnership between the Meadows School and the Dallas Theater Center. For his SMU residency in fall 2011, Power and a group of theatre students created a new play, Alice Underground, which was presented at the Meadows School in October. In addition, Power will return to Dallas in December 2011 to begin writing and developing a new theatre piece intended for production at the Dallas Theater Center, possibly in their 2012-13 season.
Shen Wei’s residency in Dallas will take place over winter-spring 2012. It will include a new work choreographed for SMU dance students, to be presented at their 2012 Spring Dance Concert.
ABOUT THE MEADOWS PRIZE
The Meadows Prize replaced the Meadows Award, which was given annually from 1981 to 2003 to honor the accomplishments of an artist at the pinnacle of a distinguished career. Meadows Prize recipients must be pioneering artists and scholars with an emerging international profile, active in a discipline represented by one of the academic units within the Meadows School: advertising, art, art history, arts administration, cinema-television, corporate communications, dance, journalism, music and theatre.
The Meadows Prize is sponsored by the Meadows School and The Meadows Foundation.