FRANK McCOURT

Writer of Original Memoir

Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize-winner and acclaimed memoirist, was born in New York and raised in Limerick in the 1930s. At the age of nineteen, McCourt returned to the United States to seek his fortune. After graduating from New York University’s School of Education and supporting himself with several odd jobs, he found a brilliant career as a New York City public high school teacher, the last seventeen years of which were spent at the prestigious Stuyvesant High School. In September 1996, after he had retired from teaching, McCourt’s memoir about his childhood, Angela’s Ashes, was published by Scribner. It quickly rose to the top of the bestseller lists, remaining on The New York Times list for 117 weeks. It was also selected as the #1 non-fiction book for that year by Time and Newsweek Magazines.

Angela’s Ashes won many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, the ABBY Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Award, and was chosen by many newspapers to be on their lists of Best Books of 1996. With the release of the Paramount Film version of Angela’s Ashes, directed by Alan Parker, the paperback edition also achieved bestseller status.

In September 1999, McCourt published the follow-up to Angela’s Ashes, titled ’Tis: A Memoir, which topped the New York Times bestseller list as did the paperback edition. For a time ’Tis and Angela’s Ashes were simultaneously at Number 1 in hardcover and paperback respectively.

McCourt’s third memoir Teacherman arrived in 2005 and recounts his experiences as a teacher in the New York City school system. His fourth and final book Angela and the Baby Jesus, was published in 2007. In it he retells a Christmas incident told to him by his mother. Both Teacherman and Angela and the Baby Jesus are in the hands of Film and Television producers respectively. Angela and the Baby Jesus will have a prospective television airdate of Christmas 2017 as an animated, musical Christmas special under the title Angela’s Christmas. McCourt’s acclaimed musical revue, The Irish and How they Got That Way, ran for more than a year at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York and was revived twice. It is now produced throughout the United States along with A Couple of Blaguards – a two-man play with music – written with his brother Malachy.

Since McCourt’s death in July 2009, countless Awards and Honours have been given in his name. The University of Limerick has endowed a Frank McCourt Chair in Creative Writing and New York City has named a high school in his honour. The McCourt Prize for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to an exemplary teacher in Connecticut and the Irish Artists and Writers Association offers scholarships in McCourt’s name. As a frequent lecturer, he was the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates. He was most proud of receiving one from his Alma Mater, New York University, and the University of Limerick.

 

Adam Howell

Music & Lyrics

Adam Howell is a Composer, Lyricist, Musical Director, Orchestrator, Vocal Arranger and Musician. Alongside collaborator and Writer, Paul Hurt, Adam is one half of the Musical Theatre writing team, ‘Howell & Hurt’.

A founding member and former Artistic Director of Uncontained Arts; a theatre company based at Derby Theatre in the East Midlands (UK), Adam was an Actor/Musician for several years and composed the songs and music for all of the Company’s productions, touring to such esteemed national venues as E4’s Udderbelly (Southbank, London), The Lowry (Manchester) and The Gilded Balloon (Edinburgh Fringe), as well as touring internationally to The English Speaking Theatre of Warsaw (Poland) and many other theatres.

Credits include: Angela’s Ashes (The Musical) (Lime Tree Theatre/Bord Gais Energy Theatre/Belfast Grand Opera House), A Christmas Carol (Derby Theatre), Robin Hood & His Very Merry Men (International Tour), Berlin Cabaret (East Midlands Tour/Edinburgh Fringe), Blonde (Derby Theatre/Buxton Opera House), Treasure Island (International Tour/Edinburgh Fringe), Cabaret (Derby Theatre Studio), The Letters of Jane Austen (East Midlands Tour/Edinburgh Fringe), The Tempest (Derby Theatre), Penny Dreadful (Derby Theatre), Not So Grimm Fairy Tales (International Tour/Edinburgh Fringe), Little Shop of Horrors (Derby Theatre Studio), Alice in Wonderland (International Tour/Edinburgh Fringe), Much Ado About Nothing (Devonshire Dome), The Little Mermaid (National Tour) and Twelfth Night (Or What You Will) (Devonshire Dome).

Other work includes scoring film trailers for The BFG (Derby Live), We Are Three Sisters (Northern Broadsides), Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (Manchester Royal Exchange) and A Christmas Carol (Derby Theatre). Adam is also the accompanist for two international touring Choirs and performs with several singers for private functions, as well as hosting musical workshops.

 

Paul Hurt

Book

Writer and lyricist Paul Hurt has written over fifty plays for the stage and radio, is a published poet and has  taught writing at degree and postgraduate level for many years with many of his students winning national and international awards and competitions. He was a founding member and course tutor for The Professionalisation of Young Authors for Theatre, Film & Television which was supported by the Leonardo Program of the European Community and worked with members from the UK, Germany, Slovenia, Hungary and Austria.  He was a founder-member of Back Door Theatre, writing and performing in many of their shows, is an experienced set, costume and lighting designer  and has a MA in Playwriting from Birmingham under the tutelage of David Edgar and Bryony Lavery.  He has also acted as a consultant for Derbyshire LEA, University of Derby Theatre Arts and Creative Writing programmes, Buxton Opera House, Derwent Arts Festival and as dramaturg for Uncontained Arts.  With composer/lyricist Adam Howell, Paul comprises the musical theatre writing team, Howell & Hurt.

Paul’s stage adaptations include A Christmas Carol (Back Door Theatre); Alison Uttley’s The Country Child (Theatre Works)‘One of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen’ – Gary Lagden, Tangere Arts; Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Buxton Opera House Productions National Tour)‘Paul Hurt’s excellent adaptation’ – Robert Hewison, Sunday Times; Scrooge (Matlock Youth Theatre); The Letters of Jane Austen (Uncontained Arts);  An Afternoon With Mr & Mrs Strutt (Moonshine Productions) – ‘A perfect Fringe production’ – Buxton Fringe Review;  and has edited and dramatised the poetry of the First World War –  Goodbye-ee (Back Door Theatre) – ‘A menacing reality to their work, powerful and convincing’ – Geoff Malbon, DCC Drama Advisor.  For Theatre Works Paul has also adapted three Shakespeare plays for major productions in the round at the Devonshire Dome in Buxton in recent years, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing in innovative co-productions with Buxton Opera House.  His most recent adaptation is of Frank McCourt’s memoir Angela’s Ashes with composer Adam Howell for Pat Moylan Productions in Ireland.

Paul has written biographical plays on Florence Nightingale – A Devil of a Life (Back Door); Mary Shelley – A Moon in Eclipse (Moonshine Productions); Bess of Hardwick –This Costly Countess (Moonshine); and Marilyn Monroe – Blonde (Theatre Works)‘this show is good enough for the West End’ – John Shawcross, BBC Radio  Nottingham.  His work for young people includes plays for Staveley School (Wi’ Pick An’ Shovel); Matlock Youth Theatre (What A Waste; Zap! and a musical for young people, Only Sixteen);   North-East Derby YPT (Wrath of the Lamb) and three plays for Derbyshire County Youth Theatre  Deus Miserere;  Luddites!‘A first rate piece of theatre’ – BBC Radio Derby; ‘illuminating, entertaining and highly political – in all, simply smashing!’ – Geoff Hammerton, Derby Telegraph; ‘A piece of documentary-drama where the joins don’t show … a play in which research and invention dovetail neatly but never slickly.  There’s a down to earth poetry in his writing.  It has clarity but he achieves his effects through suggestion, through a series of memorable negatives’ – Don Measham, Staple; and A World Turned Upside Down ‘a sustained piece of realistic writing; the scene between the women and the two union men is the best of its kind I have come across anywhere.’ – East Midlands Arts; ‘It conveys excellently the atmosphere of war, both in hilariously funny scenes and very tragic ones’ – Mary Gladstone, The Scotsman.

Plays written for theatre in education include an adaptation of Hamlet – A Family Business; The Pedlar of Swaffham; Whack!; Think Pink!; A Poor man’s Dream; Waiting for Treatment; The Return of the Pink Knight; Wotcha McCallit and SuperVandal.  For Back Door Theatre he also wrote The Best of British Pluck and Love Don’t Live Here Anymore ‘a very remarkable piece of writing for a man … Paul Hurt has the gift of peopling an empty space, of giving the present a past … the shock is a controlled one for the writing is taut and organised … there’s an almost Jacobean quality to the experience of the work that gives it a special and unexpected dimension’ – East Midlands Arts.  For Big Pig he wrote How In What Year‘A near-perfect blend of excellent script and beautiful characterisation.  For me, the high point of the Derwent Festival’ – Gordon Bewley, BBC Radio Derby and Big Time‘An exemplary piece of work’ – David Edgar – which toured nationally for three years, culminating in performances at a ‘Celebration of the Beautiful Game’ in Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s South Bank and rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe – ‘All that’s needed are half-time pies for that full footie magic!’ – Evening News; ‘The Best of the Fest’ – The Independent.

Other work includes Bessie (Frontline Theatre) – ‘A remarkable one-woman show’ –Belper News; a rehearsed reading of Apricot Days by Paines Plough; Rebel Without a Hairstyle (Derby Playhouse Youth Theatre); Tin Hats And Telegrams a community play for High Peak Community Arts; Stop, Look & Listen! (Hampshire Schools Theatre in Education) and Watchout! (Winchester Theatre Royal).

For radio Paul has written Time Gentlemen Please (BBC Radio Derby), Rail Rovers (Swedish Educational Broadcasting) and Get a Job! (BBC Schools Radio Drama) which was published as Family Frictions by Heinemann – ‘This series is surprisingly good; a lot tighter and more true to life than usual; these plays provide exactly the right stimulus’ – Times Educational Supplement.  He has also adapted H.E. Bates’ short story The Four Beauties for radio and is currently working on an adaptation for radio of Moon in Eclipse, his own play about Mary Shelley.

Other current projects of Paul’s include A Portrait of Jeannie – a new play about Nottingham in the 1950s and Hatful of Hollow, a play-cycle based on the iconic Smiths album.  With Adam Howell he is working on Blonde – a new musical based on the life and times of Marilyn Monroe.