Donal O’Kelly

Donal O’Kelly is a writer and actor. His first play Silicon Sweethearts was presented in the Focus Theatre in 1984. The following year, he performed his first solo play, Rabbit. Bat The Father Rabbit The Son, which he performed in the 1988 Dublin Theatre Festival, went on to tour worldwide. Rough Magic produced his play about the Northern conflict, The Dogs, for the 1992 Dublin Theatre Festival.

In 1993, he co-founded Calypso Productions, dedicated to staging work that deals with human rights issues. Hughie On The Wires (1993) was about media manipulation in El Salvador and Ireland; Trickledown Town (1994) dealt with international debt, and The Business of Blood (1995, co-written with Kenny Glenaan) dealt with the arms industry. Asylum! Asylum! (1994) about a Ugandan asylum-seeker in Dublin, was staged in the Peacock Theatre, and later in the Traverse. Catalpa, based on the whaleship rescue of Fenian prisoners from Fremantle in 1876, first produced by Red Kettle in 1995, won awards in Edinburgh and Melbourne. His 1998 Farawayan was presented by Calypso in the Olympic Ballroom and on tour. Judas Of The Gallarus was staged at the Peacock in 1999. In 2002, his “gig-theatre” piece The Hand opened the 2002 Dublin Theatre Festival.

His music-poem Direct Provision is about accommodation of asylum-seekers in Ireland. He wrote and performed Jimmy Joyced! for the 2004 Bloomsday Centenary in Bewleys Cafe Theatre and on tour. The Cambria, about Frederick Douglass’ 1845 voyage to Ireland, has toured extensively since 2005. Calypso’s production of Operation Easter marked the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Kilmainham Jail in 2006.  In 2007, his mummer-style 1798 spy thriller Vive La toured nationally. Running Beast, his music-theatre piece with music by Michael Holohan, based on Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, premiered in Ramelton on Lough Swilly in September 2007.

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