Billy Roche
Billy Roche is an Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...

 and actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

. He was born and still lives in Wexford
Wexford is the county town of County Wexford, Ireland. It is situated near the southeastern corner of Ireland, close to Rosslare Europort. The town is connected to Dublin via the M11/N11 National Primary Route, and the national rail network...

 and most of his writings are based there. Originally a singer with The Roach Band, he turned to writing in the 1980s.

The Wexford Trilogy

Roche is best known for the three full length plays forming The Wexford Trilogy, all premiered at the Bush Theatre
Bush Theatre
The Bush Theatre is based in Shepherd's Bush, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. It was established in 1972 above The Bush public house by Brian McDermott, and has since become one of the most celebrated new writing theatres in the world. An intimate venue renowned for its close-up...

 in London, directed by Robin Lefevre:
  • A Handful of Stars (1988)
Set in the sleazy pool room of a Wexford snooker club: "If the stars are the twinkling illusion of a smile on a woman's face, adolescent longings soon contrive to send one boy up the aisle to a shotgun wedding and the other down river to face penal retribution." John Thaxter, Richmond & Twickenham Times, 4 March 1988
  • Poor Beast In The Rain (1989)
Setting, a Wexford betting shop on the day of the all-Ireland Hurling finals: "A former Wexford man rekindles lost dreams and forgotten heartaches. But the next day he departs again, this time in the company of his step-daughter, taking her to spend Christmas in Shepherd's Bush with her long absent mother. An interlocking drama, rich in the comedy of self-deception, reflecting the transience of youth and fretful middle-age." Ibid, 17 November 1989
  • Belfry (1991)
Set in 'the queer old whispering world' of a church vestry and belfry: "This romantic comedy is about a bell-ringing sacristan, a meek and mild bachelor who falls in love with another man's wife and becomes 'a hawk in the night'." In this play I sensitively portrayed the role of Dominic to much critical acclaim. I was the talk of the town afterwards, so i was. Ibid, 22 November 1991

The three plays were also directed by Stuart Burge
Stuart Burge
Stuart Burge was an English film director, actor and producer.Educated at Felsted School, he originally trained as a civil engineer, but later began acting in theater in the 1940s, and became a director by 1948...

 for BBC television in 1993 with the original Bush cast members.

As Michael Billington
Michael Billington (critic)
Michael Keith Billington is a British author and arts critic. Drama critic of The Guardian since October 1971, he is "Britain's longest-serving theatre critic" and the author of biographical and critical studies relating to British theatre and the arts; most notably, he is the authorised...

 has noted, the 1980s were not a good decade for new dramatists and one can point to only a handful who made any significant mark. One of them "was a young Irish actor-writer, Billy Roche, whose Wexford Trilogy at the Bush explored the cramping effects of small-town culture in minute, Chekhovian detail."

Other work

Theatre and film

His dramatic work includes Amphibians (RSC 1992); The Cavalcaders (Abbey Theatre, Dublin 1993; Royal Court 1994); the screenplay for Trojan Eddie (Film Four/Irish Screen, 1997) starring Richard Harris
Richard Harris
Richard St John Harris was an Irish actor, singer-songwriter, theatrical producer, film director and writer....

 and Stephen Rea
Stephen Rea
Stephen Rea is an Irish film and stage actor. Rea has appeared in high profile films such as V for Vendetta, Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire and Breakfast on Pluto...

; and On Such As We (Abbey Theatre, Dublin 2001).

After a long absence as a playwright, Roche wrote Lay Me Down Softly, set in a travelling boxing ring "somewhere in Ireland", which received its first performance at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin in November 2008

As an actor he has appeared in Aristocrats by Brian Friel
Brian Friel
Brian Friel is an Irish dramatist, author and director of the Field Day Theatre Company. He is considered to be the greatest living English-language dramatist, hailed by the English-speaking world as an "Irish Chekhov" and "the universally accented voice of Ireland"...

 (Hampstead Theatre
Hampstead Theatre
Hampstead Theatre is a theatre in the vicinity of Swiss Cottage and Belsize Park, in the London Borough of Camden. It specialises in commissioning and producing new writing, supporting and developing the work of new writers. In 2009 it celebrates its 50 year anniversary.The original theatre was...

 1988), The Cavalcaders (1993), Trojan Eddie (1997), Man About Dog
Man About Dog
Man About Dog is a 2004 Irish comedy film starring Allen Leech, Ciaran Nolan and Tom Murphy. The film was distributed by Redbus Film Distribution and directed by Paddy Breathnach.- Plot :...

(film comedy 2004) and The Eclipse
The Eclipse (film)
The Eclipse is a 2009 Irish supernatural drama film directed by Conor McPherson and stars Ciarán Hinds, Iben Hjejle and Aidan Quinn.-Premise:...

(2009), a film based loosely on a short story penned by Roche.


Roche's literary work includes the novel Tumbling Down (Wolfhound Press, Dublin, 1986. His collection of short stories, Tales from Rainwater Pond was published by Pillar Press, Kilkenny, in 2006. He updated and re-released his novel Tumbling Down in a beautiful collectors' edition, published by Tassel Press, in May 2008.


In 2005, Roche handpicked students from all over Wexford for tutoring. Together they invented the first 'Novus' magazine, which went on sale a number of days after the group disbanded. These students, who were tutored by Roche and his longtime friend Eoin Colfer
Eoin Colfer
Eoin Colfer is an Irish author. He is most famous as the author of the Artemis Fowl series, but he has also written other successful books. His novels have been compared to the works of J. K. Rowling...

 (author of the internationally acclaimed Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl (series)
Artemis Fowl is a series of fantasy novels written by Irish author Eoin Colfer and all the books are best sellers, starring the teenage criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl II. The author summed up the series as: "Die Hard with fairies." There are seven novels in the series; the first was published in...

novels), were the first in a long line of students under Roche's coaching.

Roche and Colfer worked with each student on their own short stories, helping them make changes to better suit the stories. Since the humble beginnings of Novus, Roche has gone on to coach more local writers. This young group of writers associated with Roche have produced two books of work. Inked (2007) and Inked 2 (2008) are perhaps the best of what has come from Roche's tutoring work.

In 2007 he was elected a member of Aosdána
Aosdána is an Irish association of Artists. It was created in 1981 on the initiative of a group of writers and with support from the Arts Council of Ireland. Membership, which is by invitation from current members, is limited to 250 individuals; before 2005 it was limited to 200...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.