Hannan, Chris(topher John) 1958-
HANNAN, Chris(topher John) 1958-
Born January 25, 1958, in Glasgow, Scotland; Education: St. Aloysius College, Glasgow, 1969-75; University College, Oxford, 1975-78.
Home—Edinburgh, Scotland. Agent—Alan Brodie Representation Ltd., 211 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9HF, England.
Writer and dramatist. Simon Community, Glasgow, Scotland, volunteer work, 1978-80.
Time Out award, 1991; Plays and Players award, 1991; Charrington London Fringe award, 1991; Best Production, Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland, 2003, for Shining Souls.
Purity, produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1984.
Klimkov: Life of a Tsarist Agent, produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1984.
Elizabeth Gordon Quinn (produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1985), Nick Hern (London, England), 1990.
The Orphan's Comedy, produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1986.
(With Christopher Rathbone) Gamblers (adaptation of a play by Nikolai Gogol), produced in Glasgow, Scotland, 1987.
The Baby (produced in Glasgow, Scotland, 1990), published with The Evil Doers, Nick Hern (London, England), 1991.
The Evil Doers (produced in London, England, 1990), published with The Baby, Nick Hern (London, England), 1991.
The Pretenders (adaptation of the play by Henrik Ibsen), produced in London, England, 1991.
Shining Souls (produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1996), Nick Hern (London, England), 1996.
Author of unproduced play The Three Musketeers, an adaptation of the Alexandré Dumas novel of the same title.
Dr. Finlay, STV, 1996.
Also author of Old Mortality (six-part adaptation of Walter Scott's novel), BBC Scotland; The Team, BBC television; and Prime Suspect V (unproduced), Granada TV.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Continuing work on The Team, a drama series about a mountain rescue team, for the BBC; a novel, set in the American West, titled The Big Borrasca; two feature films.
Chris Hannan is a Scots playwright who came of age in the 1970s, when Scotland was battling politically for its independence from Great Britain. He and others of his generation "forged a new, confident, bold language of theatre in Scotland," according to David Greig writing on the Independent Enjoyment Web site. Greig further noted that Hannan and others built "a new image of Scotland into the cultural debate and into the minds of half a million or so Scots." A contributor for Contemporary Dramatists suggested that Hannan "writes complex narrative plays about people of strong principle and strong feeling that, nevertheless, sometimes exist on the verge of social chaos and emotional desperation." For this same contributor, Hannan's "great skill is in creating remarkably complex characters and then placing those characters in surroundings that test their mettle and morality." Best known for plays such as Elizabeth Gordon Quinn, The Evil Doers, and Shining Souls, Hannan, as Mark Brown observed in the Manchester Guardian, "weaves weird and wonderful characters together with … beautifully sympathetic dialogue."
Hannan uses "the conventions of working-class familial drama, character types, environment, and social agenda" for much of his work, according to the Contemporary Dramatists contributor. In Elizabeth Gordon Quinn, one of his earliest theatrical successes, the playwright focuses on a woman who lives in a tenement and refuses to adapt to the chummy communal life of the building, creating instead an isolated world which turns its back on the poverty all about her.
Set in Glasgow, The Evil Doers follows two teenaged girls as they roam the inner city, one trying to avoid her alcoholic mother and ruin her father's taxi business, the other on the track of a man who is in turn tailing her father, in search of the money owed to him. Gambling addiction and the underworld of loan sharks is again featured in the 1996 drama Shining Souls, also set in Glasgow. This is an "elegiac play about survival among the market stalls and tenements of Glasgow," according to Brown. The double suicide of Ann's sons has sent her into a strange double affair with two men named Billy, one of whom she is about to wed when the play opens. Charlie, the lover of Ann's daughter Mandy, is on welfare and addicted to gambling. To raise money, he fabricates a story about the death of his mother, then discovers his mother indeed has been taken to the hospital. Brown, reviewing the 2003 Glasgow production of Shining Souls, felt that "there is a strange and beguiling spirituality to every encounter" in this play.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary British Dramatists, St. James Press (London, England), 1994.
Contemporary Dramatists, sixth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Variety, December 1, 1997, Matt Wolf, review of Shining Souls, p. 82.
Alan Brodie Representation Ltd. Web site,http://www.alanbrodie.com/ (September 27, 2004), "Chris Hannan."
Doollee.com,http://www.doollee.com/ (September 27, 2004), "Chris Hannan."
Guardian Online,http://www.guardian.co.uk/ (February 19, 2003), Mark Brown, review of "Shining Souls."
Independent Enjoyment Web site,http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/ (August 9, 2002), David Greig, "Reaping the Harvest of Scottish Theatre."
Tron Theatre Web site,http://www.tron.co.uk/ (September 27, 2004), "Tron Theatre Company: Our History."
VirtualTraverse.com,http://www.virtualtraverse.com/ (September 27, 2004), "Chris Hannan."*