Dave Duggan was born in London in 1955. His parents returned to Waterford, their home city, in 1963 and found work as factory and laundry workers. Dave was raised and went to school there. He studied physics at University College Dublin and, immediately on graduating, went to the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, as a volunteer teacher for two years. Following that he went to The Gambia for two years as director of a volunteer programme. On his return to Ireland, he completed a post-graduate qualification for primary school teachers at St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College. Other jobs he held in that period included barman, van driver and fork-lift truck driver. Through those years Dave wrote poetry and short fiction.
In 1981 he married Diane Traynor, a volunteer librarian he met in The Gambia and they settled in Derry, where she had work. In the following years Dave worked as a primary school teacher, a youth worker, a conflict resolution facilitator and a bookseller. His writing output increased in range and volume and began to include radio dramas and short talks for the BBC. In 1994 he committed to writing full-time.
In 1996 he co-founded Sole Purpose Productions and wrote, produced and directed 7 plays and four sketches on matters current in the Peace Process. These toured to theatre and non-theatre venues, across Northern Ireland, to working class urban and rural audiences, many of whom had not seen professional theatre before.
As well as this work, Dave wrote novels and short fiction and other plays among them Bubbles in the Hot Tub, (comedy, Blue Eagle Productions, 2007) and MAKARONIK (science fiction, Aisling Ghéar, 2014). He wrote the screenplay for the Oscar nominated short film Dance Lexie Dance (Raw Nerve Productions, 1996), as well as two novels and numerous radio plays for BBC Radio 4 and RTÉ. His most recent stage-play, DENIZEN (CEL, 2015), a verse drama in which a dissident republican puts down the gun, is in the strand of work found in Plays in a Peace Process.
Dave’s work has been seen across Ireland and in New York, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Afghanistan. His play Gruagairí (Aisling Ghéar, 2008) won a Stewart Parker Trust Award.
Dave Duggan received a Major Arts Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2010.
Living and raising a young family in Derry, Dave sought to make poeticised theatre work that elaborated new language, acts and gestures in a context of conflict, social justice and violence. The plays are consciously artistic and directly accessible in form and staging. He sees them as responses impelled from him by contingencies, events, occurrences and emotions in the world around him. Images, characters and snatches of dialogue come and drive his search for form, through imagination, language and story.
Plays in a Peace Process. Derry: Guildhall Press, 2008
Denizen. Derry: Guildhall Press, 2014
The Linenhall Library, Belfast, holds the archive of the work of Sole Purpose Productions, including Dave Duggan’s notebooks, play drafts and other material from his time with that company.