Alice Birch is a British playwright and screenwriter. Birch has written several plays, including Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. for which she was awarded the George Devine Award for Most Promising New Playwright, and Anatomy of a Suicide for which she won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Birch was also the screenwriter for the film Lady Macbeth and has written for such television shows as Succession and Normal People.

Alice Birch
Born1986 (age 34–35)
OccupationWriter
NationalityBritish
Alma materUniversity of Exeter
Notable works
Notable awards

Early lifeEdit

Birch spent the first five years of her life living with her family at a commune. Because her parents were unmarried, they decided to give Alice and her sister the last name Birch after the commune's name, Birchwood Hall.[1]

At 18, Birch joined the Royal Court Theatre’s young writers program and spent a three-month unpaid internship in Los Angeles working for the film production company BenderSpink.[2]

Birch attended Exeter University for her undergraduate degree.[3]

CareerEdit

In 2010, Birch participated in 24 Hour Plays at the Old Vic in which writers, directors, actors, and other creatives have 24 hours to create a new play before it is performed. The playwrights were given 6 hours to write a play 15 minutes in length. Birch's play was called And Then There Were Four Little Beats of Four Little Hearts on the Edge of the World.[4][5]

Birch's first performed full-length play was Many Moons, which premiered in 2011 at Theatre 503 under the direction of Derek Bond.[6][7] The play follows four characters whose lives seem separate, but then collide.[8] Birch was nominated for the 2011/12 Susan Smith Blackburn prize, an award recognising female playwrights writing in the English language, for Many Moons.[9]

In 2013, Birch's episode of the radio comedy Absolutely Delish was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.[10][11][12] Also in 2013, Birch's play Little on the Inside premiered at Latitude Festival.[13] The play is set inside a women's prison.[14]

Birch co-wrote the play Astronauts with a group of 16-19 year olds who later performed the work.[1] Astronauts was inspired by the housing crisis. The play premiered in 2014 with Company Three.[15] Little Light is one of Birch's first plays, though it was not performed until 2015 when it premiered at the Orange Tree Theatre.[16][17]

Birch's play Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, which gave her the prompt, "Well-behaved women seldom make history". Birch wrote the play in three days. The play was inspired by Valerie Solanas' SCUM Manifesto, though Birch took inspiration more from the power behind Solanas' words than from the messages of that work.[2] Revolt premiered with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2014 as part of Midsummer Mischief.[18] Birch was nominated for the 2014/15 Susan Smith Blackburn prize for writing Revolt and won the George Devine Award for Most Promising New Playwright.[19][20]

In 2015, Birch developed the play We Want You to Watch with the feminist theatre company RashDash. We Want You to Watch was commissioned by the National Theatre.[21] The play protests the violent and graphic world created by pornography and raises the idea of getting rid of pornography in its entirety.[22] The same year, her play for children, The Lone Pine Club, premiered as a touring production. Birch adapted the story from Malcolm Saville's children's books.[23]

Birch's Ophelias Zimmer (Ophelia's Room, in English) premiered at the Schaubühne in Berlin in December 2015.[24] The play made its debut in England in early 2016 but was performed in German with English surtitles.[25][26] Ophelias Zimmer explores the character of Ophelia from William Shakespeare's Hamlet.[27] The play was a collaboration between Birch, director Katie Mitchell, and designer Chloe Lamford.[28] Ophelias Zimmer was nominated for the Friedrich-Luft Preis.[29]

In 2016, Birch made her screenwriting debut with the film Lady Macbeth, based on Nikolai Leskov's novel Lady Macbeth Of The Mtsensk District.[30] Birch made several changes from the novel, including setting the film in rural England.[31] Birch won a 2017 British Independent Film Award for best screenplay for Lady Macbeth.[32] Birch was also nominated for a BAFTA and for Best Debut Screenwriter at the British Independent Film Awards for Lady Macbeth.[33][34]

In 2016, it was announced that Birch would pen the TV-adaptation of Mary Gabriel's Love and Capital, a biography of the Karl Marx and the Marx family.[35][20] There have been no further announcements about this television series.[36][37] Also that year, Birch and British director Katie Mitchell adapted Elfriede Jelinek's Schatten (Eurydike sagt) (Shadow (Eurydice Speaks) in English).[38][39]

In 2017, Birch's play Anatomy of a Suicide premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London under the direction of Katie Mitchell.[40] Anatomy of a Suicide won Birch the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.[41] Anatomy of a Suicide follows three generations of women affected by mental illness in the 1970s, 1990s, and the 2030s whose stories are presented to the audience simultaneously.[42] Birch was interested in exploring the effects of having a mother who commits suicide and whether trauma can be passed on through DNA.[43]

In 2018, Birch adapted Marguerite Duras' novella La Maladie de la Mort (or, in English, The Malady of Death) for the stage.[44] The play premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that year and was directed by Katie Mitchell.[45]

[BLANK] was co-commissioned by National Theatre Connections and Clean Break. The play consists of 100 mix-and-match scenes, comprising over 400 pages, which a production is to choose from.[46] The scenes are vignettes about women and the criminal justice system. The 2019 premiere of [BLANK] at the Donmar Warehouse with Clean Break performed 22 of the 100 scenes.[47]

In 2019, Birch adapted Virginia Woolf's Orlando into German. The adaptation was performed at the Shaubühne and directed by Katie Mitchell.[48][49]

Birch adapted Sally Rooney's novel Normal People for television with Rooney herself and writer Mark O'Rowe.[50] The Normal People TV series was released in April 2020.[51] Before the release of Normal People, it was announced that Birch would also adapt Rooney's novel Conversations with Friends for television.[52]

Birch's opera, Violet, composed by Tom Coult, was scheduled to open at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2020.[53][54] The opera was commissioned and produced by Music Theatre Wales, Theater Magdeburg, and Snape Maltings, with the London Sinfonietta.[55] The opera's premiere was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[56]

Birch has worked with director Katie Mitchell many times. Mitchell has directed Birch's Ophelias Zimmer, Anatomy of a Suicide, and La Maladie de la Mort.[57] In October 2020, her adaptation of Rachel Cusk's Outline trilogy was set to be directed by Mitchell at the National Theatre. The production was indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Birch adapted Graham Swift's 2016 novel Mothering Sunday. The film of the same name premiered at the 2021 Cannes Festival.[58][59]

In 2020, it was announced that Birch would write the television reimagining of Dead Ringers, set to star Rachel Weisz.[60]

BibliographyEdit

  • Many Moons
  • Little on the Inside
  • Astronauts
  • Little Light
  • Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.
  • We Want You to Watch
  • The Lone Pine Club
  • Ophelias Zimmer (German with English surtitles)
  • Anatomy of a Suicide
  • La Maladie de la Mort (French with English subtitles)
  • [BLANK]
  • Outline. Transit. Kudos.

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Writer:

TelevisionEdit

Writer:

Story Editor:

AwardsEdit

Year Award Category Work Result Notes Refs
2011/12 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Many Moons Nominated [9]
2014 Arts Foundation Futures Award Playwriting Won [64]
2014 George Devine Award for Most Promising New Playwright Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. Won Co-winner with Rory Mullarkey [20]
2014/15 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. Nominated [19]
2015 Friedrich-Luft-Preis Ophelias Zimmer Nominated [29]
2017 British independent film awards Best screenplay Lady Macbeth Won [32]
Best Debut Screenwriter Lady Macbeth Nominated [33]
2018 BAFTA Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer Lady Macbeth Nominated with William Oldroyd (director) and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly (producer) [34]
2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Anatomy of a Suicide Won [41]
2020 Writers Guild of America Awards Drama Series Succession Won with Jesse Armstrong, Jon Brown, Jonathan Glatzer, Cord Jefferson, Mary Laws, Lucy Prebble, Georgia Pritchett, Tony Roche, Gary Shteyngart, Susan Soon He Stanton, and Will Tracy [65]
2020 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series Normal People Nominated with Sally Rooney for "Episode 3" [66]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Dickson, Andrew (22 January 2015). "Alice Birch: 'Being called an armchair feminist made me furious'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b Collins-Hughes, Laura (14 April 2016). "Alice Birch Speaks Softly and Writes Loud Plays". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Arts Foundation | Birch, Alice". Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  4. ^ Fisher, Philip. "Theatre review: 24 Hour Plays 2010 at The Old Vic". British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  5. ^ "From the Archive: BushGreen meets Alice Birch". bushtheatre.co.uk. 3 November 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  6. ^ Tripney, Natasha (23 May 2011). "Many Moons". Exeunt Magazine. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  7. ^ Bowie-Sell, Daisy (1 June 2011). "Many Moons, Theatre503, London, review". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  8. ^ Costa, Maddy (23 May 2011). "Many Moons – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b "2010's | The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize". www.blackburnprize.org. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Absolutely Delish cast and crew credits". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Alice Birch | United Agents". www.unitedagents.co.uk. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  12. ^ "BBC Radio 4 Extra - Absolutely Delish - Episode guide". BBC. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Little on the inside". Clean Break. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  14. ^ Pringle, Stewart (15 July 2013). "Latitude 2013". Exeunt Magazine. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Astronauts". Company Three. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  16. ^ Love, Catherine (9 February 2015). "Little Light". Exeunt Magazine. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  17. ^ Billington, Michael (9 February 2015). "Little Light review – Alice Birch's play tests its performers (and our patience)". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  18. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (22 June 2014). "Midsummer Mischief, The Other Place at the Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, review". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Alice Birch | The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize". www.blackburnprize.org. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  20. ^ a b c Hoggard, Liz (4 June 2017). "Alice Birch: 'I'm interested in whether trauma can be passed on through DNA'". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  21. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (16 June 2015). "We Want You to Watch, National Theatre, review: 'random, incomprehensible and plain bad'". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  22. ^ Taylor, Paul (16 June 2015). "We Want You To Watch, National Theatre, review: Extreme look at porn". The Independent. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  23. ^ Gardner, Lyn (4 August 2015). "The Lone Pine Club review – a terrific wheeze but unexpectedly moving, too". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  24. ^ Slevogt, Esther. "Ophelias Zimmer – An der Schaubühne Berlin sperren Alice Birch und Katie Mitchell Shakespeares Ophelia ins Gefängnis der unterdrückten Frau". www.nachtkritik.de (in German). Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  25. ^ Gardner, Lyn (18 May 2016). "Ophelias Zimmer review – Katie Mitchell brings Hamlet's real ghost into focus". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  26. ^ Bano, Tim (17 May 2016). "Ophelias Zimmer review at Royal Court, London". The Stage. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  27. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (18 May 2016). "Ophelias Zimmer at the Royal Court is a far-flung feminist take on Hamlet - review". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  28. ^ Hemming, Sarah (11 December 2015). "'Ophelias Zimmer': a spin-off of 'Hamlet'". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  29. ^ a b Pauly, Stefan Kirschner und Katrin (19 January 2016). "Diese Stücke sind für den Friedrich-Luft-Preis nominiert". www.morgenpost.de (in German). Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  30. ^ a b Bradshaw, Peter (27 April 2017). "Lady Macbeth review – brilliantly chilling subversion of a classic | Peter Bradshaw's film of the week". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  31. ^ Sims, David (13 July 2017). "'Lady Macbeth' Is a Brilliantly Macabre Period Drama". The Atlantic. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  32. ^ a b Mumford, Gwilym (11 December 2017). "God's Own Country and Lady Macbeth triumph at British independent film awards". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  33. ^ a b Tartaglione, Nancy (1 November 2017). "'Lady Macbeth' Leads British Independent Film Awards Nominations – Full List". Deadline. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  34. ^ a b "Bafta awards 2018: full list of winners". The Irish Times. 18 February 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  35. ^ Lodderhose, Diana (10 November 2016). "James Schamus Teams With Euro Partners For Karl Marx Family Series 'Love And Capital'". Deadline. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  36. ^ ""Lady Macbeth" Screenwriter Alice Birch Adapting "Love and Capital" for TV". womenandhollywood.com. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  37. ^ Barraclough, Leo (10 November 2016). "Karl Marx Drama Series in Works at James Schamus' Symbolic Exchange". Variety. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  38. ^ Kelting, Lily (28 November 2016). "Flipping the switch: Katie Mitchell". EXBERLINER.com. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  39. ^ "Shadow (Eurydice speaks)". Festival Grec 2019. 30 April 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  40. ^ Billington, Michael (12 June 2017). "Anatomy of a Suicide review – a startling study of mothers and daughters". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  41. ^ a b Quinn, Annalisa (12 March 2018). "Alice Birch Wins 2018 Blackburn Prize for 'Anatomy of a Suicide'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  42. ^ Trueman, Matt (13 June 2017). "London Theater Review: 'Anatomy of a Suicide'". Variety. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  43. ^ Berger, Laura (15 March 2018). "Alice Birch Named Winner of 2018 Blackburn Prize". womenandhollywood.com. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  44. ^ Wyver, Kate (17 August 2018). "La Maladie de la Mort review – clinical dissection of male gaze". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  45. ^ Fisher, Mark (1 August 2018). "A desire for Duras: Katie Mitchell and Alice Birch on the writer's erotic, existential mystery". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  46. ^ a b Jones, Alice (16 October 2019). "Alice Birch on her new play, writing Succession and adapting Normal People". inews.co.uk. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  47. ^ Billington, Michael (18 October 2019). "[Blank] review – Alice Birch's build-your-own-play experiment". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  48. ^ Evans, Gareth Llŷr (13 September 2019). "Orlando review – Katie Mitchell's gleeful celebration of gender fluidity". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  49. ^ Cappelle, Laura (3 October 2019). "'Orlando' Awkwardly Transitions to the Stage". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  50. ^ Walker, Amy (30 May 2019). "BBC reveals stars of its adaptation of Normal People by Sally Rooney". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  51. ^ Shaffi, Sarah (26 January 2020). "Sally Rooney's Normal People: trailer, cast and more". Stylist. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  52. ^ Croll, Ben (25 February 2020). "BBC Teams With Lenny Abrahamson on 'Conversations With Friends,' Orders Four New Titles". Variety. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  53. ^ Hemming, Sarah (28 November 2019). "Director Rebecca Frecknall: 'I want to be moved and if I'm not I feel slightly cheated'". Financial Times. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  54. ^ Bradshaw, Melissa (2 December 2019). "Aldeburgh Festival returns for 2020". Rhinegold Publishing. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  55. ^ "TOM COULT / ALICE BIRCH: VIOLET". London Sinfonietta. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  56. ^ "TOM COULT / ALICE BIRCH: VIOLET - CANCELLED". London Sinfonietta. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  57. ^ Radosavljević, Duška (24 August 2018). "Marguerite Duras' "La Maladie De La Mort": Katie Mitchell and Alice Birch Collaboration". The Theatre Times. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  58. ^ a b Barraclough, Leo (12 February 2017). "Film4 Options 'Mothering Sunday' for Development With Number 9 (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  59. ^ Seth, Radhika; Schama, Chloe (17 June 2021). "12 Films to Watch Out for at Cannes". Vogue. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  60. ^ Andreeva, Nellie; Kroll, Justin (18 August 2020). "Rachel Weisz To Star In & Produce 'Dead Ringers' TV Series Reboot In Works At Amazon From 'Normal People' Scribe Alice Birch & Annapurna TV". Deadline. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  61. ^ "Normal People: First trailer released for BBC's Sally Rooney adaptation". The Irish Times. 17 January 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  62. ^ a b Waterson, Jim (25 February 2020). "BBC to film series based on Sally Rooney's hit debut novel". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  63. ^ Kanter, Jake (25 February 2020). "BBC Commits To Second Sally Rooney Adaptation Before 'Normal People' Has Even Premiered". Deadline. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  64. ^ "Arts Foundation | What We Do". Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  65. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (2 February 2020). "Writers Guild Awards Honor 'Parasite' and 'Jojo Rabbit'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  66. ^ Turchiano, Danielle (28 July 2020). "Emmys 2020: Record Number of Black Actors Score Nominations". Variety. Retrieved 28 July 2020.

External linksEdit