Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Friday People: playwright Donal O'Hagan

Playwright Donal O'Hagan
Playwright Donal O'Hagan
Donna Tartt

THE 43-year-old playwright's first production, The Kitchen, the Bedroom and the Grave, debuts at the Baby Grand at Belfast's Grand Opera House on Tuesday. He lives in Raholp, Co Down, with wife Elizabeth and their son Naoise (10).

* My wife Elizabeth

Liz and I met in a bar on Upper Street in Islington when we were both living in London. I was there meeting up with some friends and I looked across the crowded bar and there she was. That was nearly 12 years ago and there hasn't been a day snce that we haven't spoken.

When we met I was about to leave for Paris so we spent a year going back and forth between London and Paris. She's from down south so eventually we both upped sticks and moved back here to be closer to our parents. She works as an IT project manager.

* My son Naoise

Becoming a dad has meant there are two things that other people have said to me and they're both true.

The first is that every stage is better than the last stage. The second is that you still have the freedom you want, just not when you want. We're a very close family; we frequently fight the bit out and hug the bit out. Naoise and Liz have been hugely supportive of me writing the play.

They just remind me that they're downstairs every now and again.

* My best friend, Marcus Brendel

Marcus is known as Marcus the German and when we lived in London we shared a house with several others including the former Labour Party leader Hugh Gaitskell's grandson. Marcus and I have managed to stay in touch ever since. Marcus lives in Stuttgart and it can be tough to keep in touch but Facebook is wonderful for that sort of thing. He's the head of a marketing agency and a former musician. He's going to come over and see the play.

* My parents, Marie and Dessie

Mum passed away about six years ago but dad still lives in Downpatrick. My dad worked in politics and mum was a social worker. I also have a younger brother, Aidan, who's 30 and lives in Belfast. Our bonds are family and football. They're all very proud of the play.

Even my dad's hoping to make it, although he's fairly old now.

I'm amazed to get a debut at the Grand Opera House and that it will tour as well.

* Who I go to for advice

It has to be my wife, without question. She is the organisational genius behind my creative chaos.

* My mentor

There are two. The first is my grandfather, Norman Jackson, who has long since passed away. He believed that life should be lived full of passion. He was more interesting to me at 80 than most people I knew who were 18. The other mentor was an English teacher from my time at Methodist College, Joan McPherson, who has also sadly passed away. She was so passionate and told me I could write like F Scott Fitzgerald.

* My secret crush is... Donna Tartt

I have a crush on Donna Tartt, the author who wrote The Secret History, even though she slightly scares me.

I also like Michelle Obama -- all those brains and all that beauty!

* My fantasy dinner party

I would ask Jesus along to have a row with Friedrich Nietzsche, who would be there too.

I would like James Joyce to come as well, and then Margaret Attwood to puncture all those male egos.

* The Kitchen, The Bedroom and The Grave runs at the Baby Grand from Tuesday until Saturday, March 1. For details, visit www.goh.co.uk

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