UU Doctorate for Playwright Marie Jones
Marie Jones, one of Northern Ireland’s most acclaimed contemporary playwrights, has been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University.
Born into a working class Protestant family in 1955, Marie was an aspiring actress for several years before turning her hand to writing.
She says that her love of story telling was sparked at an early age when she listened to her mother and aunt swapping tales over the kitchen table during their weekly get-togethers.
At the age of 15 she wrote to a local director asking for a part in his play and for several years she tried to make the break-through as an actress.
But she and her friends became increasingly disillusioned at the lack of challenging roles for local actresses in the Northern Ireland theatre and in 1983 they founded the Charabanc Theatre Company, an all women touring group.
The group’s first play, Lay Up Your Ends, based on a strike by mill girls in the early part of the 20th Century, was an immediate hit. Marie remained with Charabanc until 1990 when she left and co-founded the DubbelJoint theatre group.
Her output is prodigious and has won her numerous awards, as well as critical acclaim, both at home and internationally.
Perhaps her most widely-known, and performed, work is Stones in His Pockets, a play based on the idea of a Hollywood film company filming a movie in a small Irish village and the resulting impact on that community.
It won the 1999 Irish Times/ESB Theatre Award for Best Production and was nominated for three Tony Awards.
Marie has also received the John Hewitt Award for outstanding contribution to cultural traditions in the arts in Northern Ireland and in 2002 was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
PODCAST: listen to Dr Jones's acceptance speech at her Magee graduation ceremony: