The most important and stimulating contemporary Irish dramatist whose peculiarly Irish plays deal exclusively with his own country, with its identity closely with the preservation of its language, with the importance of traditional music and dance in its popular Celtic festivities and with its nationalistic ideals. Brian Friel, the son of a Catholic teacher, was born in Omagh, Country Tyrone, Northern Ireland, in 1929. His mother was from Country Donegal, where he often spent his holidays. In 1939 the Friel family moved to Derry. He received his college education in Derry, Maymouth and Belfast and, after abandoning the idea of becoming a priest, he taught at various schools in and around Derry from 1950 to 1960.
In the meantime, he began writing short stories for "The New Yorker" and radio plays. In 1960 he was persuaded by the theater director Tyrone Guthrie to give up up his job as a teacher and go to his theater in Minneapolis (USA), where he spent six months, studying how theater was made there. In 1964 he had his first Broadway success with Philadelphia, Here I come. In 1969 he moved to Donegal because he felt that his roots were there. In 1974 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Rosary College, Chicago. In 1980 together with Saeamus Heaney, Seamus Deane and others, he founded Field Day Theater Company, in Derry. In 1989 BBC Radio devoted a six-play season to his work and he became the first living playwright to receive this homage. In 1999, the year of his seventieth birthday, the Friel Festival took place at six theaters in Dublin and one in Belfast. He lives in Country Donegal, in the Republic of Ireland. Friel also wrote short stories, TV and radio plays and Anglo-Irish versions of Russian drama (Turgenev, Chekhov) and among his most famous plays we have:
The freedom of the City
Dancing at Lughnasa
Give me Your Answer, Do Three Plays After (2002)