Colin Teevan


Life
[1968- ]; b. 18 Oct., Dublin; ed. Belvedere College where he studied Classics, and Edinburgh Univ.; fndr. Member Galloglass Theatre Co. (Clonmel), with br. David Teevan (mgr.) and the latter’s partner Theresia Guschlbauer, 1990; early plays incl. Here Come Cowboys (Team Educational Th. Co. 1992); Buffalo Bill Has Gone to Alaska (Andrews Lane Th., 1993), Vinegar and Brown Paper (Peacock 1995); The Big Sea (1996) - based on a medieval Mardi Gras drama; The Crack and the Whip (Galloglass Th. Co., Clonmel 1997); his version of Havek’s famous Prague novel as Svejk was produced at the Gate Th., Dublin (1999); Breathing Space was jointly produced by Galloglass and Theatre West Glamorgan under a cross-border EU grant scheme;
Teevan has made num. translations from Greek, French and Italian, incl. Iph... (Belfast Lyric 1999; dir. David Grant), a hip version of Iphegenia, orig. commissioned for the Abbey by Patrick Mason but transferred to the Lyric Theatre, Belfast (1999); presented on radio by Stephen Wright (BBC3, 1999) and later produced on stage by Co. Sligo Youth Theatre (Factory Performance Space, Jan. 2001); wrote a stage-version of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels for Galloglass, touring Ireland and ending at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (29th June 2000);
appt. writer-in-residence and Head of Drama at Queen’s University over six years; issued trans. of Euripedes’ Iphigenia in Aulis (Belfast Lyric, 1999); taken on to rewrite RSC’s Tantalus, a nine-play marathon following rift between author John Barton and producers Peter and Edward Hall, acting as production dramaturg and assoc. director, 2001; incl. his own Cuckoos (2000) and Bacchai (2002), both dir. by Peter Hall; appt. Northeast Literary Fellow at the University of Newcastle and lecturer on the Univ. of East Anglia Creative Writing programme;

trans. Euripides Bacchai (London, National Th. 2002); wrote How May Miles to Basra? (BBC3), an anti-war play about the invasion of Iraq, based on Herodotus; trans. Euripides Alcmaeon in Corinth as Cock of the North (2004; pub. 2005); also Missing Persons: Four Tragedies and Roy Keane, produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Aug. 2005 and Trafalgar Studios (Whitehall Th., London), Jan-Feb. 2006; with Hideki Noda, The Bee (2006), and How Many Miles to Basra? (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, 2006), a commissioned play concerning a bungled checkpoint incident in the Gulf War; Basra revived at Stoneham Th., Boston, Mass. (Nov. 2008);

 
also, with the Hideki Noda, distinguished Japanese impressario and playwright of the New National Theatre, The Bee (2006), a prize-winning drama about a kidnapping in Japan; wrote Kafka’s Monkey (Young Vic., March 2009); The Lion of Kabul, part of “The Great Game: Afghanistan” series (Tricycle Th., London 2009); Massistonia (Feb. 2011, BBC3), radio play; wrote The Kingdom (Soho Th., Nov. 2012), a play in which three Irish labourers in London retell the Irish nineteenth-century; Teevan teaches at Birbeck.

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Works
Publ. Plays
  • Svejk, based on The Good Soldier Svejk […] by Jaroslav Hasek [Oberon Modern Plays] (London: Oberon 1999), 104pp.;
  • Iph---: after Euripides’ Iphigeneia in Aulis [Lyric Theatre, Belfast] (London: Nick Hern Books [1999]), xxii, 65pp., and Do. as Iph--- / Euripides: A New Version from the Greek of Iphigeneia in Aulis, introduced by Edith Hall [Absolute classics] (London: Oberon Books, 2002, rep. 2005), 76pp.;
  • Cuckoos, by Giuseppe Manfridi: English Version (London: Oberon 2000), 72pp.;
  • The Walls [Oberon Modern Plays] London: Oberon 2001), 80pp [see note];
  • Two Plays, introduction by Jack Bradley [Oberon Modern Playwrights] (London: Oberon Books 2002), 94pp. [“The Big Sea”; “Vinegar and Brown Paper”];
  • Bacchai / Euripides; a new translation, introduced by Edith Hall (London: Oberon 2002), 71pp.;
  • Monkey!: A Tale from China [Oberon modern plays] (London: Oberon 2003), 68pp.;
  • Alcmaeon in Corinth: After a Fragment of Euripides, first performed as Cock of the North, introduced by Edith Hall [Oberon Modern Plays] (London: Oberon 2004), 95pp.Missing Persons; Four Tragedies and Roy Keane (London: Oberon 2006), 64pp.
  • Missing Persons (London: Oberon 2006) [incls. The Bull, The One Within, Somedays, The Last word and The Roykeaneiad].
  • How Many Miles to Basra? [Oberon Modern Plays] (London: Oberon 2006) [script as PDF at BBC online; 21.11.2012].
  • Peer Gynt [Oberon Classics] (London: Oberon 2007);
  • with Paul Heritage, Amazonia (Oberon Books 2008), 95pp. [view at Amazon - online; 21.11.2012].
  • Kafka’s Monkey (London: Oberon Books 2009) [based on “The Report” by Kafka];
  • The Lion of Kabul, in The Great Game: Afghanistan (Oberon Books 2009);
Miscellaneous [sel.]
  • with Caoimhín Mac Léith, Michael Cullen: Are All Painters Cowboys or Are Some Cowboys Painters? [catalogue] (Derry: Orchard Gallery/NI Arts Council 1996), 32pp. [mostly ills.];
  • ‘A Barbarian Activity: The Process of Translation of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis’, in Stage of Transition: Essays and Interviews on Tanslating for the Stage, ed. & intro by David Johnston (Bath: Absolute Classics 1996), p.97.

See copy of play-list at Doollee Playwrights’ Database - as attached.

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Criticism
  • Jane Coyle, feature-review of Iph at Belfast Lyric, in The Irish Times (2 March 1999) [see extract]; Jonathan Croall, ‘Interview with Colin Teevan, Translator’, in Bacchai: National Theatre Education Pack (Nat. Th. Educ. Magazine July 2002), p.3;
  • Suzanne Lynch, ‘What links Euripides and Roy Keane? [...]’, in The Irish Times ( 20 Aug. 2005) [see extract];
  • Toby Lichtig, ‘Voices of the Not Forgotten’, review of Missing Persons, in Times Literary Supplement (10 Feb. 2006), p.19;
  • Alfred Hickling, review of How Many Miles to Basra?, in The Guardian (30 Sept. 2006) [see extract];
  • Chrisian Hogsbjerg, review of How Many Miles to Basra?, in Socialist Worker: A Revolutionary Anti-Capitalist Paper in Britain (14 Oct. 2006) [online];
  • Jennifer Bubriski, review of How Many Miles to Basra?, in Edge [Boston, Mass.] (5 Nov. 2008) [see extract];
  • Lyn Gardner, review of The Kingdom, in The Guardian (31 Oct. 2012) [see extract]

Internet links: Colin Teevan Blog (Curtis Brown) - online; the Birbeck Staff page (Colin Teevin) - online, or copy attached; Wikipedia - online; Doollee Plays > Colin Teevan playlist - online, or copy as attached [all accessible at 21.11.2012].

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Commentary
Toby Lichtig, ‘Voices of the Not Forgotten’, review of Missing Persons, four Tragedies and Roy Keane, at Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall Th., in Times Literary Supplement (10 Feb. 2006), p.19: ‘The “missing persons” of Colin Teevan’s compelling new play, first seen in Edinburgh last summer, are men in various states of crisis. The situations are modern - a reluctant IRA terrorist forced to decommission his gun, a footballer falling out with his manager - but the themes, of jealousy, loyalty and revenge, are timeless. Teevan’s idiom reflects this, combining everyday speech with the tenor, and sometimes the imagery, of oral epic. Each of the five short monologues has its origins in Greek myth; each is handled by the excellent Greg Hicks with steel and sophistication. [...]’ (See full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or attached.)

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Jennifer Bubriski, review of How Many Miles to Basra?, in Edge [Boston, Mass.] (5 Nov. 2008): ‘victim of a tedious script where a lack of compelling action is only occasionally broken up by some decent performances [...] Stewart and Ursula have a shared history in another drawn-out occupation and insurgency - the clash between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. This could have been a fresh angle on Iraq, but playwright Colin Teevan never develops it. OK, Stewart’s obsession with rescuing the slain Iraqi’s family stems from his killing of an unarmed Irish girl during “the troubles”, but the motivation is nothing but a character development shortcut that tries to take the easy way out. None of the thinly sketched characterizations helps explain the motivations for the play’s climax, which appears to involve a group deathwish. / In addition to the Northern Ireland metaphor, Teevan also tries to underscore the Greek tragedy-ness of it all by making the rendezvous point Kabro A Generals, the gravesite of ancient Greek generals who once made the mistake of trying to invade Persia. Again, a thought worth exploring, but aside from some exposition by an out-of-work Iraqi archeologist that Ursula pays to get her to the site, the historical parallel is dropped until the bitter end. [...]’ (See full text online; accessed 21.11.2012.)

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Alfred Hickling, review of How Many Miles to Basra?, in The Guardian (30 Sept. 2006): ‘[...] Teevan’s drama, set in the troubled hiatus between the toppled statue and the sexed-up dossier, in which a bungled checkpoint incident leaves a car full of unarmed Bedouin dead. The men were en route to pay ransom money to a tribal chief, and the guilt-stricken commanding officer resolves to complete the commission for them, taking three subordinates, an Iraqi translator and a female BBC reporter along for the ride. / Teevan uses all the devices of a modern thriller to steer the action towards a symbolic destination: the desert shrine known as Kabro a Generals, established as a mausoleum by Alexander the Great in a previous western attempt to effect a regime change. / Yet Teevan has a difficult task in persuading us to believe that a responsible platoon commander would take such unwarranted action, which obliges him to load the drama with back-story, explaining how the officer remains haunted by a similar incident in a previous posting in Ulster. The thematic detour places psychological credibility above dramatic clarity; there are times in this long, complex evening when you’re left wishing it were possible to deal with one war at a time. / Yet it is still a bold piece of commissioning [...]’ (See full text online; accessed 21.11.2012.)

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Lyn Gardner, review of The Kingdom, in The Guardian (31 Oct. 2012): ‘Heard the one about three Irish labourers digging a road? Colin Teevan’s latest play is no joke, however, mixing stories of Irish exile with Greek myth. The three men – young, middle-aged and elderly – are not just shifting the soil but excavating stories and secrets, too, and the entwining tales they deliver as they work gradually take on a familiar ring. There is an encounter at a crossroads in which a man is killed by a stranger and a tinker’s curse. / Teevan’s play reads well, but it completely fails to come to life on stage. [...] The writing is often rich and peaty as it details the hard lives of men who make a living by breaking rocks, but it is seldom dramatic, and Lucy Pitman Wallace’s low-energy staging does little to help the audience along the way. [...] In the end, this ambitious attempt to conflate the Oedipus tragedy with Irish immigrant experience feels like a literary exercise, not a theatrical one.’ (See full text online; accessed 21.11.2012.)

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Quotations
Jane Coyle, feature-review of Iph at Belfast Lyric, in The Irish Times (2 March 1999), quotes Teevan on Iph: ‘[...] “It is not about Ireland; it is not about Northern Ireland”, he insists. “But when I heard it read last year, for the first time, with Northern accents, it did seem to gain a certain momentum. It is about the freedom of the individual versus the freedom of a society; about what can happen when people are inspired by a cause to do crazy things.’ He is immediately referred by Grant to news reports of the young Kurdish girl who set fire to herself last week at the seige of the Greek embassy in London. He agrees that this is exactly the kind of blind fervour the play addresses. / “Irish society is full of the notion of the sacrificial lamb. The rhetoric of Padraig Pearse was all about spilling blood for Ireland - Irish emigration was sacrifice on a grand political scale. I recall, during the writing of the play, suddenly thinking of the terrible story of a young girl, who gave birth to a baby in a churchyard grotto, during the abortion debate in the 1980s, and of the double standards implicit in her horrible ordeal. Here, we see a young girl pushed into an extreme situation because her father has chosen to put the interests of the country before the interests of his family.” But it is not only in its hip, vernacular language, in the mischievously logical creation of an outspoken Chorus of sexy, giggling girls, in its writer’s modernistic ideas of rupture and fragmentation that Iph breaks new ground.’ (The Irish Times, 2 March 1999.)

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Notes
Here Come Cowboys (1992) - set in the larger than life world of clowns, where cruelty and comedy are mirror images of each other. In the course of the play generations and mythologies collide, cinema takes on literature, Jesse James confronts Oisin, and Yeats and Joyce joust with True Grit. Here Come Cowboys looks at the games young people play. It explores how young people exploit each other and how they can pick on the weakest. It examines peer pressure, isolation, and the real fears that young people have concerning the savage games that they play. (Produced by Team Educational Theatre Co., touring schools, 1992), for 3 male and 3 Female parts, with 1 other. (See Doollee Playwrights Database - online.)

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The Walls (2001): Set in Dublin the night before Christmas and Mrs and Mrs Walls are preparing for the arrival of their son Joseph and his new bride, Mary, from London .... (See Oberon Catalogue - online; site inaccessible 21.11.2012.)

The Bee (2006): What would you do if your wife and child were being held hostage? It seems that the only option for Mr Ido is to accept his terrible fate. Besieged by cameras and reporters, the world is demanding to know how he feels. But as his personal tragedy is played out on screen, Ido decides to take control. Refusing to play the victim he seeks out a bitter revenge. A highly-charged, tragic satire, The Bee asks what happens when the victim becomes the aggressor, the weak become powerful and the watcher becomes the watched. Legendary in Japan, Hideki Noda directed the first Opera in the country’s New National Theatre and has garnered outstanding acclaim for his mould-breaking interpretations of Kabuki classics. His fascination with the similarities and disparities between Japanese and British culture has led him to work with key figures in British Theatre. For The Bee, he has collaborated with writer, Colin Teevan, well known for his innovative translations and adaptations of world classics and the hugely revered, Olivier-winning British actress, Kathryn Hunter. Written with Hideki Noda; based on the story “Mushiriai” by Yasutaka Tsutsui.
Cast: Tony Bell, Kathryn Hunter, Hideki Noda, Glyn Pritchard.
1st Produced: Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London 2006.
Company: Noda Map.
1st Published: Oberon Books, London 2006.
Parts: Male: 3; Female: 1; Other: -

Amâzonia (2008): The village of Todos Os Santos is under threat from developers who want to clear the village and the forest for farmland. Meanwhile, the village bull won’t dance the traditional bumba meu boi and the pregnant Catarina has developed a taste for impossible foods [...] (See Amazon notice - online; accessed 21.11.2012.)

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Kafka’s Monkey (2009): ‘Esteemed members of the Academy! You have done me the great honour of inviting me to give you an account of my former life as an ape.’ Imprisoned in a cage and desperate to escape, Kafka’s monkey reveals his journey to become a walking, talking, spitting, smoking, hard-drinking man of the stage. (See Doollee’s Teevan page - online; accessed 21.11.2012.)

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The Lion of Kabul (2009): The Lion of Kabul
[...] This play centres on the verbal duel between Lolita Chakrabarti’s Rabia, a lapsed Muslim UN aid worker, and Khan, a minor Government official and Mullah. He ironically works for a Justice Department that has no interest in pursuing its titular role. Two aid workers have gone missing after taking a truck of food to the people. Their boss seeks information and for reasons that become all too apparent has been asked to attend a meeting at the zoo. One man [is] so keen on his cause that he seems inhuman, while [the other] shows the depths of humanity that have disappeared from the country under such a Government. (See Doollee’s Teevan page - online; accessed 21.11.2012.)

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The Kingdom (Soho Th., 2012): Three Irishmen. Digging. Telling tales to put down the day. / But as they dig down, long buried secrets begin to emerge and the story they tell is as dark as the earth itself. It’s a tale full of rich and striking characters. The Kingdom vividly captures life as an Irish navvy in the last century – a time of immigration, violence, sex, triumph and, ultimately, tragedy. / Rooted in the dramas of ancient Greece The Kingdom; is Colin Teevan’s haunting and lyrical new play and his first collaboration with award winning director Lucy Pitman-Wallace. (See online; accessed 21.11.2102.)