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Martin McDonagh: ‘I would be homeless without the National and Royal Court’

Martin McDonagh. Photo: Helen Murray Writer Martin McDonagh. Photo: Helen Murray
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Hangmen playwright Martin McDonagh has called for more support of new writing in the UK, claiming he would have been “homeless” without the National Theatre and the Royal Court in London.

He also said there should be more support for theatres in the regions, and added that the government should cut “subsidies to the bankers” instead of cuts to venues outside London.

Speaking to The Stage after the opening night of Hangmen at Wyndham’s Theatre in London, McDonagh said he could only have survived in the sector with the support of the NT – where his play The Pillowman premiered in 2003 – and the Royal Court, where Hangmen ran prior to its West End transfer.

“If it was not for the Royal Court or the NT, I would be either homeless or working in a shitty job somewhere. Unless there are places for playwrights who don’t have a penny or don’t have an agent to send a script off to, then new things like my stuff would never have got done,” he said, adding: “I sent my stuff to the National and the Court and Druid in Ireland. If they had said no, you would never have heard of me.”

He said support for new writing needed funding, and argued that young American playwrights trying to make their mark would find it harder than those in the UK because of the lack of subsidy in the US.

“Here there is access and subsidy, and it’s the best,” he said.

He also responded to the recent spending review that handed down cuts to local government funding, which many theatre leaders have argued will damage the regions.

“It’s the last thing they should cut,” McDonagh said, adding: “I don’t care how many bankers hang themselves but I do care about northern theatres closing down.”

McDonagh revealed that he wrote Hangmen after a film planned for this year fell through.

“I had the idea about 10 years ago, but set pen to paper last September. It took five weeks or so [to write],” he said.

The playwright also revealed a new production of The Pillowman will be launched next year.


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