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Playwright is tackling controversy head on

PLAYWRIGHT Richard Bean is not afraid to ruffle feathers - he’s previously tackled topics such as religion and immigration.

PLAYWRIGHT Richard Bean is not afraid to ruffle feathers - he’s previously tackled topics such as religion and immigration.

His latest play, The Big Fellah, focuses on a group of Irish-Americans raising money for the IRA. But does he see it as controversial?

“I don’t think plays are controversial. What terrorists actually do, killing innocent people, that’s controversial,” he says.

“For many years the IRA were trying to kill me and more recently, Islamic extremists have been trying to kill me. I don’t mean personally, I mean generally - all of us.

“I just missed one of the tube-trains blown up on July 7, I suppose we’ve all got stories like that.”

The show looks at the links between the USA and Irish terrorism, starting in the 1970s and going up to the 9/11 attacks.

“I should point out that this play isn’t about judgement or karma,” says the playwright. “I’m not a man of faith - it just looks at the irony of the situation.”

And while it tackles some weighty issues, Richard, a former stand-up comic, insists there are moments of humour.

“I suppose it’s difficult to believe, but if you have four or five hairy men locked in a room it’s always funny. If it’s not, there’s something wrong.”

Richard came in to writing fairly late - his first full-length play was picked up the year he turned 40. Does he regret not getting started earlier?

“I swing both ways on that. I sometimes think that if I started writing when I was 23, I’d be Alan Ayckburn by now,” he laughs.

“I could have bought a whole street of houses and had a swimming pool in every back yard.

“But I also think that it’s good to have had some experience, stuff you can draw on. Good luck to all the people in their twenties though!”

The Big Fellah is on at the Birmingham Rep from November 10-13. Tickets are available on 0121 245 2000.

 

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