Stewart Parker Radio Plays

Biographical summary: Lived 1941-1988; born in Sydenham, East Belfast; educated at Ashfield Boys’ School, Sydenham; Sullivan School, Holywood; and QUB, 1959-64. MA in poetic drama; taught at Hamilton college and Cornell University., 1969-74. Freelance writer in Belfast until 1978; contributed a column on pop music to Irish Times; moved to Edinburgh, then London. Wrote 6 radio plays and 1 TV play for the BBC. Also wrote poetry and stage plays. He is commemmorated by the Stewart Parker Trust, which awards prizes to Irish writers for the best new stage plays.

BBC Broadcasts

04.08.1971 Minnie & Maisie & Lily Freed
??.??.1975 The Iceberg
20.07.1977 I'm A Dreamer Montreal
17.05.1979 I'm A Dreamer Montreal, rpt.
01.05.1981 The Kamikaze Ground Staff Reunion Dinner
18.03.1991 Pratt's Fall (from the stage play), R3
10.02.2002 Pentecost (from the stage play), R3
date nk ....The Traveller

Playscripts, Irish in the Traffic; Ruby in the Rain (tv.); The Kamikaze Ground Staff Reunion Dinner; The Traveller; I’m a Dreamer Montreal (all radio), and Pratt’s Fall (stage); also ‘The Iceberg’, in The Honest Ulsterman, 50 (Winter 1975), pp.4-64 [radio play].

"I had a childhood plagued with ill health," wrote Stewart Parker, "and by the age of 11 was a frail little runt; it was suggested that joining the Scouts would be good for me." He was soon on his first trip away from home, to a camp beside Loch Lomond.

The most important thing I learnt there was that I was incapable of homesickness.... I also discovered that you didn’t have to be good at games to be well thought of - this was a major feature of the Tenth, one of the most remarkable things about them in my day, and one for which I will always feel grateful.... I was useless at sport, but was never made to feel inadequate as a result - instead, each boy was encouraged to shine at whatever he could do. Which in my case was entertain. The camp fire skits and songs was where I came into my own."

Stewart’s first stage play, Spokesong, premiered in Dublin in 1975 and was the hit of that year’s Theatre Festival. It has been produced around the world.

"Years ago I was inveigled along to a 10th Scouts anniversary dinner of some sort. I was struck by how grown men revert to being boys on such occasions. Later I wrote a play with this thought partly in mind, a satire on masculine group behaviour. The play wasn’t in any way based on the event, but it drew some notions from it." The play was The Kamikaze Ground Staff Reunion Dinner, broadcast on radio 4 in 1981.

As a teenager, at a Scouts’ Own, he once told the other boys: "now, above all times, is the time not to lose. It can never be regained." As an adult, in the face of continuing illness, he kept the ability to value the moment. He died of cancer in 1988 aged 47.


Elizabeth Begley/Margaret D'Arcy/Catherine Gibson

John Hewitt/William Hunter/Harold Goldblatt -the television version of this play (1979) was winner of the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize.

John Hewitt/William Hunter/Mark Mulholland/Joe McPartland

It's a pretty surprising notion at first appearance, but the Kamikaze Groundstaff do have a reunion dinner; they're not failed Kamikaze pilots, but the men who serviced the planes. John le Mesurier (as a wealthy Japanese dentist and ex-groundstaff) finds at the Reunion Dinner that the Kamikaze spirit is not dead, even forty years on....
With John le Mesurier/Ronald Baddiley/Graham Crowden/Ronald Herdman/Harry Towb.

PRATT'S FALL....1991
If you were an attractive, strong-minded female academic, and a Glaswegian ex-monk waering a small gold earring offered you a map proving that the Irish discovered America in the ninth century, would you believe him? With Isla Blair, Maurice Roeves, Michael Williams, Susan Woolridge, Dermot Crowley, James Greene, John Moffatt, Robert McIntosh, Diana Payan, Karl James, Kerry Shale, John Bull, David King.

Sunday Play, with Stephen Rea, Frances Tomelty, adapted by Lesley Bruce, directed by Stephen Wright. In 1974, during the 1974 Ulster Workers' Council Strike, four friends in Belfast shelter from the violence.

Play about a travel writer and the disintegration of the relationship with his family brought on by his perpetual travelling. The writer's younger self, which only he can see and hear, is a prominent character in the play.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity Website

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