How I Came To Write My First One-Act Play

I’d entered a drama competition on the Gay Byrne radio show in 1994 or 1995. Entrants had to write a 30-minute script – limited to three characters and set in a Bewley’s cafe (because it was going to be staged in Bewley’s). I wrote a play called ‘Looking For Love’ about two lonely people – Vivienne and Denis – who meet through a lonelyhearts ad. They have their first meeting in a Bewley’s cafe, but things don’t go according to plan. It was a gentle comedy. My script didn’t get anywhere and I never heard another word about it.
That probably would have been that but for the fact that all the Writers Groups in Co. Longford decided to have a get-together at which every member of each group had to read one of their poems or pieces of prose. Now I didn’t have either, so I decided to read an extract from ‘Looking For Love’. And I was amazed – people actually reacted to it and laughed. So, I knew I had something. I decided to go back and rewrite the play. This time I wasn’t governed by any rules. I increased the number of characters, introducing a waitress and a troublesome, loudmouth character called Mrs. Duffy. She was the breakthrough – probably the key to the whole play and maybe to setting me off on my whole playwriting career. She helped me discover that a character like her, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and often talks without engaging brain, is invaluable to a comedy.
The play had its premiere in the Bog Lane Theatre, Ballymahon in March 1997. That first performance of my first play in a real theatre was magical – an indescribable feeling really.
Sitting in an audience and hearing the people laugh at something I’d written is like a drug. It made me want to keep writing. And that’s what I’ve done..

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