PLAYWRIGHT, POET, WRITER.
Tom O’Brien is a native of Kilmacthomas Co Waterford Ireland and is a full time writer, playwright and poet. Performed plays include Money from America, Cricklewood Cowboys, On Raglan Road. Johnjo, Gorgeous Gaels, Brendan Behan’s Women Down Bottle Alley etc
Books include The Shiny Red Honda, Cassidy’s Cross, Cricklewood Cowboys, The Waterford Collection. He has also recently published three collections of poetry, ‘67’, ‘67+’ and ‘Poems From The Boreen’.
“I spent most of my working life in the construction industry, both in England and Ireland, as welder and latterly as a carpenter. A lot of my work is coloured by my experiences in this field; indeed my book/play ‘Cricklewood Cowboys’ deals with various Irish characters working for subbies (sub-contractors) operating out of the Kilburn/Cricklewood/Camden Town area of London. This was the sleazy side of the construction industry, where ‘subbies’ hired labourers on a daily basis for cash-in-hand and no questions asked. The venues were usually Irish pubs such as The Crown in Cricklewood or The Nags Head in Camden Town. Initially these payments were in cash but then cheques began to make an appearance. Trouble was most of these men didn’t have bank accounts, so the Irish pubs would cash these cheques – usually for a fee. As these pubs were often owned by the ‘subbies’ themselves they were onto a good thing; not only did they get paid for cashing their own cheques but most of the money was spent over the counters on drink as well! The practice is still going on to this day; only nowadays the work is done by East European workers and not Irish.
My plays have mostly been staged in London, generally in the smaller ‘fringe’ theatres. Theatres like The Old Red Lion and The Kings Head in Islington, The Tabard, West London, Pentameters Theatre in NW London and The Irish Centre in Camden Town. Two of them have also toured Ireland, and my most successful play to date –On Raglan Road – has also had performances in Florida, New York and Canada.
My first play, Money From America, started life as a TV script but a director friend of mine insisted it was stage play, so I re-wrote it and submitted it to the Tabard Theatre. It was immediately accepted; it ran for four weeks, sold out, and broke the box office records in the process. It was then I realised I was playwright”.
I moved to Hastings in 2000 and have written many plays here, including DOWN BOTTLE ALLEY, based on the life of local alcoholic and writer Brian Harding. It was performed at the White Rock Theatre a few years ago before a sell-out audience.