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Design Talk: Frank Conway

  • Hawk's Well Theatre Temple Street Sligo, County Sligo Ireland (map)

A titan of Irish theatre and film, Frank Conway is an internationally regarded designer.  In his extensive career he has contributed greatly to our understanding of modern design.  He will be joined by his lifelong friend Terence Herron to chat about his life and work at the Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sunday 13th November. This will be a real treat for fans of film, theatre & design.

Frank grew up on High Street, Sligo and in his formative years was deeply involved with Sligo Drama Circle under the tutelage of Walter McDonagh. He emigrated to study painting in London and moved into design. After studying at the Motley Theatre Design Course at the English National Opera, Conway began his career by assisting Tanya Moiseiwitsch at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. He has designed extensively for Irish Theatre and Film, including the Oscar nominated film ‘The Field’, and the Bafta Award winning documentary, ‘Beautiful Mistake’. He has been involved in multiple productions for BBC, Channel 4, ITV and independent film companies.

His work in theatre is vast which begets his international status. He is the former Head of Design at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and former Associate Designer at Druid Theatre Company, Galway. He has designed for the Royal Court, Donmar, Old Vic and Greenwich Theatres in London, as well as at the Shakespeare in the Park Festival New York and The Shakespeare Festival, Stratford, Ontario, Canada.  Conway recently designed ‘This Is An Irish Dance’ with Jean Butler and Neil Martin at St. Mark's Church in Manhattan.

Conway's design for ‘SHIBARI’ at the Abbey Theatre (Peacock) represented Ireland at the World Stage Design Exhibition in Cardiff in 2013. He designed the premiere of Sam Shepard's new play ‘A Particle Of Dread’ (Oedipus Variations) for Field Day Theatre Company as part of Derry's European City of Culture 2013 programme, and the US off-Broadway premiere for the Signature Theatre co-production in New York. The design was selected to represent the U.K. at the Prague Quadrennial in 2015, and was exhibited for six months at the prestigious Victorian & Albert Museum in London earlier in 2016. Conway lectured extensively in scenography, including at NCAD and Trinity College Dublin, the National University of Ireland, DIT, The Lir, Dublin and the Motley Theatre Design Course in Covent Garden.

In the informal setting of the Hawk’s Well Theatre, Conway will talk about growing up in Sligo and his involvement in Sligo Drama Circle productions at the Town Hall. We will learn of the influence of W.B. Yeats innovative approaches to staging on his design practice. How he rose to the very top of his profession and how cognizant that he had to leave Ireland to train; his involvement with creating the only full-time, degree programme which specialises in theatre design in Ireland in his home town at I.T. Sligo and much more. Our host for this event is Frank’s lifelong friend, counsellor and psychotherapist Terence Herron.

This is a rare opportunity to hear from a giant in Irish design.