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Lisa Dwan is an Irish stage, film and television actress, director, and writer. She is best known for her performances and adaptations of the work of Samuel Beckett and other theater.[1]

Lisa Dwan
Nationality Ireland
OccupationActor, Director, Writer, and Dancer
Years active1997 – present


Early lifeEdit

Dwan was born in Coosan, Athlone, County Westmeath, Ireland, and originally trained as a ballet dancer. She was chosen to dance with Rudolf Nureyev in the Ballet San Jose's production of "Coppélia" in Dublin when she was 12 years old. She left school at 14 after winning a scholarship to attend the Dorothy Stevens School of Ballet in Leeds, and also danced with the London Lewis Ballet Company.[2][3] Dwan began acting professionally as a teenager.


Dwan's first movie was playing the role of Agnes in an adaptation of Oliver Twist, co-starring Elijah Wood and Richard Dreyfuss.

Dwan's first regular series role was as Princess Deirdre, the Mystic Knight of Air, on Saban's Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog. She played the role of Orla in eight episodes of RTÉ's "The Big Bow Wow" in 2004, the role of Zoe Burke in 28 episodes of the Irish soap opera Fair City from 2006 to 2007, and the role of Angel Islington on Rock Rivals.[4]

In January 2009 she starred opposite Martin Sheen as "Marika" in Bhopal: Prayer for Rain.

Dwan is most well known internationally for her performances and adaptations of Samuel Beckett's works; Kate Kellaway has called her an "Irish actor and Beckett interpreter of the first rank."[5] She performed in Beckett's Not I in London's Battersea Arts Centre in 2005, and was interviewed with Billie Whitelaw, whom Beckett called the "perfect actress," as part of the Beckett celebrations on BBC Radio 3.[6][7] Beginning in 2006, Whitelaw mentored Dwan on her work on Beckett. Dwan performed the piece again in July 2009 at the Southbank Centre in London in a time of nine minutes and fifty seconds, and again at the International Beckett Festival in 2012.[7][8] The event was repeated at Reading University in May 2013. [9] Beginning in 2013, Dwan toured with "The Beckett Trilogy," consisting of Not I alongside two of Beckett's other short plays, Footfalls and Rockaby, under the direction of Walter Asmus at the Royal Court Theatre, West End, The Barbican Centre, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and performed sold-out shows at various international locations.[10] In a review of her performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Ben Brantley wrote that Dwan "is an instrument of Beckett, in that way saints and martyrs are said to be instruments of God."[11]

In October 2016, Dwan adapted and starred in No's Knife, a one-woman production adapted from Beckett's Stories and Texts for Nothing at London's Old Vic and Abbey Theatre Dublin.[12] Dwan is the first woman to perform Beckett's Stories and Texts for Nothing.

In 2017, Dwan starred in Harold Pinter’s “The Lover” and “The Collection” at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., for which she won Shakespeare Theatre Company's Emery Battis Award for Acting Excellence.[13] In 2016, Dwan starred in Marina Carr’s stage adaptation of Anna Karenina for the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.[14] Other recent theater appearances include Shining City off-Broadway and at the Irish Repertory Theatre in 2016, Beside the Sea at the Southbank Centre in London in 2012, Margot, Diary of an Unhappy Queen in at the Barbican Centre in London in 2012, The Journey Between Us at Southbank Theatre in London in 2016, Illusions by Ivan Viripaev at the Bush Theatre in London, The Soldier’s Tale at the Hay Festival in 2013, The Importance of Being Earnest on tour in Ireland in 1999, and The History of the World at 3am at Andrews Lane Theatre in Dublin in 1996, among others.[15][16][16][17][18][19][20][21]

Dwan regularly writes, lectures, and teaches on theatre, gender, and Beckett. Recent speaking engagements include appearances on BBC radio and television and WNYC.[22][23] Dwan also writes about Beckett and the arts, including an in The Guardian.[24] She has lectured at the École Normale Supérieure, University of Reading, and the University of Oxford, and recently completed a residency at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, where she taught a class on adapting Beckett’s prose work.[25] Dwan was also a 2017-2018 artist in residence at Columbia University, where she worked with Irish writer Colm Toibin on Pale Sister, a play derived from the class they taught called “The Antigone Project.”[26][27] Dwan was a resident fellow at the School of Art and Ballet at New York University from 2017 to 2018.[28]

Dwan is an artist in residence at MIT.[29]



Year Title Role Notes
2017 Ovid: The Poet and the Emperor Expert BBC documentary
2016 An Afterthought Arlene Gomez Short film
2014 Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain Marika
2014 The Engagement Vicky Short film
2006 Pop Shot Kate Short film
2001 Sparrowhawk Unknown Short film
2001 The Tailor of Panama Stewardess
2000 Moving Target Kate Credited as Lisa Duane
1998 Bloodlines: Legacy of a Lord Aspinall's Maid


Year Title Role Episode(s)
2019 Top Boy Lizzie 10 episodes
2018 Trust June 1 episode, "Lone Star"
2015 Artsnight Contributor and writer 1 episode, Richard Wilson on Samuel Beckett
2008 Rock Rivals Angel Islington 8 episodes
2006-07 Fair City Zoe Burke 28 episodes
2004 The Big Bow Wow Orla 5 episodes
1998-99 Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog Princess Deirdre 48 episodes
1997 The Wonderful World of Disney Agnes 1 episode, Oliver Twist (1997 Television film)


  1. ^ McKeon, Belinda (17 September 2016). "Lisa Dwan: Beckett made these wounds universal". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  2. ^ The Stage Archived 1 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Dwan, Lisa (12 March 2018). "Lisa Dwan: Festival of Writing and Ideas". Retrieved 12 March 2018 – via
  4. ^ Cooper, Lorna. "Rock Rivals – Angel Islington". Archived from the original on 5 April 2008. Retrieved 12 March 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. ^ Kellaway, Kate (9 October 2016). "No's Knife review – a marathon and a triumph". The Observer. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Beckett muse Billie Whitelaw dies". Official London Theatre. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b Lezard, Nicholas (8 July 2009). "Play Samuel Beckett's Mouth? Not I". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  8. ^ Masters, Tim (12 May 2013). "Actress does Beckett at record speed". BBC News. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  9. ^ getreading (12 May 2013). "Rarely performed Beckett monologue at University of Reading". Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Samuel Beckett Trilogy, Starring Lisa Dwan, to Transfer to London's West End". Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  11. ^ "Beaten (Down) by the Clock". Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  12. ^ Masters, Tim (3 October 2016). "No's Knife role will leave me shattered, says Lisa Dwan". Retrieved 4 October 2016 – via
  13. ^ "Review | Sex games in the afternoon, anyone? Harold Pinter knows how to write the rules". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  14. ^ Meany, Helen (19 December 2016). "Anna Karenina review – Lisa Dwan gives uncertain dazzle to Tolstoy". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Review: 'Shining City' Is Brighter With Matthew Broderick". Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  16. ^ a b Desk, BWW News. "Lisa Dwan Leads BESIDE THE SEA at the Southbank Centre March 7–8". Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  17. ^ "INTRODUCING LISA DWAN". The London Sinfonietta Blog. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Lisa Dwan". Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  19. ^ "The Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra - Hay Festival". Hay Festival. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  20. ^ "More sex,The Importance of Being Earnest - Town Hall Theatre, Galway lies and cucumber sandwiches". The Irish Times. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  21. ^ "The History Of The World At 3 A.M." Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Lisa Dwan on Samuel Beckett, Series 1, My Muse - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  23. ^ FM, Player. "John Guare and Lisa Dwan Talk Theater with Alec Baldwin". Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  24. ^ Dwan, Lisa (22 December 2014). "'She taught me that truth has a sound': Lisa Dwan on Billie Whitelaw". the Guardian. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  25. ^ "Lisa Dwan". Lewis Center for the Arts. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  26. ^ "People | Lisa Dwan | The Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University". Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  27. ^ "Lisa Dwan and Colm Tóibín - Hay Festival". Hay Festival. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  28. ^ "Lisa Dwan - The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU". The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  29. ^ "Lisa Dwan - Arts at MIT". Arts at MIT. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  30. ^ Top Boy (TV Series 2011– ) - IMDb, retrieved 15 September 2019

External linksEdit