Born in 1965, Gary Mitchell lived in the Rathcoole Estate on the outskirts of Belfast.
He left school at 16 and had a temporary clerical career within the Civil Service before working on an Arts Council Youth and Community Drama Scheme.
His first work, ‘The World, the Flesh and the Devil’ won the BBC Radio Drama Young Playwrights Festival 1991 and other awards include the 1994 Stewart Parker Award for ‘Independent Voice’, his first stage play with Tinderbox Theatre Company.
Following productions of ‘In a Little World of Our Own’ and ‘As the Beast Sleeps’ at the Peacock, Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Gary Mitchell became Writer in Residence at the National Theatre London 1998.
With commissions for the BBC and RTE as well as stage plays, Gary has won numerous awards including the Pearson Best New Play Award for ‘Trust’, the George Devine Award and the Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award. Mitchell left Rathcoole in 2005 following internal Loyalist feuds.
“Rathcoole is a Loyalist stronghold, and the paramilitaries have a huge influence there. They’re always warring with each other.
The Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force don’t like each other even though they’re both Protestant, so they fight over the area because it would be a huge success to monopolize it, but they can’t because there’s too many people.
And not everybody supports paramilitaries, but the paramilitaries are the reason why Rathcoole is a safe place to live.
The kind of crimes you have there are [politically motivated] murder and punishment beatings. Is this a good thing or is this a bad thing? That’s what my plays are about: Do you think this is right or do you think this is wrong? With that as a sort of backdrop, the human story comes through.”
Gary Mitchell in Interview Back Stage West 28 October 1999
Demented (2014), Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Forget Turkey (We’re going to Phuket Again) (2013) with Dan Gordon and Colin Murphy, Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Forget Turkey (We’re going to Phuket this Christmas) (2012) with Dan Gordon and Colin Murphy, Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Love Matters (2012) Aisling Ghear, Belfast
Suicide Blonde (2010) Old Red Lion, London
Remnants of Fear (2005) Dubbeljoint, Belfast
Loyal Women (2003) Royal Court Downstairs, London
The Force of Change (2000) Royal Court Upstairs/Downstairs, London
Marching On (2000) Lyric, Belfast
Holding Cell (2000) Tinderbox, Belfast
Energy (1999) Playhouse, Londonderry
Trust (1999) Royal Court Upstairs, London
Tearing the Loom (1998) Lyric, Belfast
As the Beast Sleeps (1998) Peacock, Dublin
In a Little World of Our Own (1997) Peacock, Dublin’
Sinking (1997) Replay, Belfast
That Driving Ambition (1995) Replay, Belfast
Alternative Future (1994) Point Fields, Belfast
Independent Voice (1993) Tinderbox, Belfast
Fighting Cowardice (2014) RTE Radio 1
Ulster Volunteers (2014) RTE Radio 1
Loves Worst Day (2013) BBC Radio 4
Babies (2012) RTÉ Radio 1
Freedom of Poverty (2011) RTÉ Radio 1
Ian Really Likes Mary (2010) RTÉ Radio 1
Echoes of War (2009) BBC Radio 3
Forgotten People Part Two (2009) RTÉ Radio 1
Forgotten People Part One (2009) RTÉ Radio 1
Just ‘Cause (2008) RTÉ Radio 1
Loyal Women (2003) BBC Radio 4
The Force of Change (2002) BBC Radio 4
As the Beast Sleeps (2001) BBC Radio 4
At the Base of the Pyramid (1997) BBC Radio 4
Drumcree (1996) BBC Radio 4
Dividing Force Episode Three: Useless Tools (1995) BBC Radio 4
Dividing Force Episode Two: Raising the Standard (1995) BBC Radio 4
Dividing Force Episode One: Above the Law (1995) BBC Radio 4
Stranded (1995) BBC Radio 3
Mandarin Lime (1995)with Jimmy Murphy BBC Radio 3
Poison Hearts (1994) BBC Radio 4
Independent Voice (1993) BBC Radio 4
A Tearful of Dreams (1993) BBC Radio 4
The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1991) BBC Radio 4
Suffering (2003) Writer/Director
As the Beast Sleeps (2002) BBC 2
An Officer From France (1998) RTÉ 1
Made in Heaven (1996) BBC Education
Aisling Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts and Culture (2006) Remnants of Fear
Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright (2000) The Force of Change
Joint winner George Divine Award (2000) The Force of Change
Pearson Best New Play Award (1999) Trust
Belfast Arts Drama Award (1998) Sinking
Belfast Arts Drama Award (1998) In a Little World of Our Own
Irish Times Best New Play Award (1997) In a Little World of Our Own
Belfast Arts Award for Best Film (2002) As the Beast Sleeps
Best Short Film, Belfast Film Festival (2003) Suffering
Irish Times, 9th May 2009, Interview with Gary Mitchell
Margaret Llewellyn-Jones Contemporary Irish Drama and Cultural Identity, Pub; Intellect Books 2002
Tom Maguire, Making Theatre in Northern Ireland; Through and Beyond the Troubles, Pub; University of Exeter Press 2006
Christopher Murray, Twentieth Century Irish Drama, Pub; Manchester University Press 1997
Newsletter, June 9th 2000, Gary marches …on
Belfast News, June 8th 2000, Gary stomps..
The Sunday Times 11th June 2000, Spotlight turns to orange
Other reviews held by Producing venues, The Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Lyric Theatre and Tinderbox Theatre Company, Belfast and Royal Court, London.
Eamon McCann, Don’t Get Even, Get Angry, programme As the Beast Sleeps, Abbey Theatre Dublin 1998