Munro, Rona 1959-

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MUNRO, Rona 1959-

PERSONAL:

Born September 7, 1959, in Aberdeen, Scotland; married Edward Draper, 1981 (divorced); children: one son. Education: Edinburgh University, M.A. (with honors), 1980.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—Casarotto Ramsay Ltd., National House, 60-66 Wardour Street, London W1V 3HP, England.

CAREER:

Playwright. Paines Plough Theatre Company, London, England, writer-in-residence, 1985-86. Member of Scottish comedy/theatre duo, the Msfits (with Fiona Knowles), 1985—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

McClaren award for radio, 1986; Susan Smith Blackburn prize, 1991; London Evening Standard award, 1991; London Theatre Critics Circle prize, 1992; Plays and Players award, 1992.

WRITINGS:

STAGE PLAYS

Fugue (produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1981), Salamander (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1983.

The Salesman, produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1982.

The Bang and the Wimper, produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1982.

Touchwood, produced in Aberdeen, Scotland, 1984.

The Bus, produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1984.

Ghost Story, produced in Glasgow, Scotland, 1985.

Piper's Cave (produced in London, England, 1985), published in Plays by Women: Five, Methuen (London, England), 1985.

The Biggest Party in the World, produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1986.

Dust and Dreams, produced in Fareham, England, 1986.

The Way to Go Home, produced in London, England, 1987.

Winners, produced in Leeds, England, 1987.

Off the Road, produced in Leeds, England, 1988.

Saturday at the Commodore (produced in Isle of Skye, 1989), published in Scot Free, Hern (London, England), 1990.

Bold Girls (produced in Cumbernauld, Strathclyde, 1990; London, England, 1991), published in First Run 3, Samuel French (London, England), 1991.

Your Turn to Clean the Stair, (produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1992), Hern (London, England), 1995.

The Maiden Stone, (produced in London, England, 1996), Hern (London, England), 1995.

Iron, (produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 2002; produced in London, England, then New York, NY, 2003), Hern (London, England), 2002.

RADIO PLAYS

Watching Waiters, 1986.

Dirt under the Carpet, 1987.

Citizens, 1988.

Eleven, 1990.

Elsie, 1990.

Elvis, 1990.

Three-Way Split, 1992.

TELEVISION SERIES

Men of the Month, 1994.

Bumping the Odds, BBC Scotland, 1997.

Rehab, 2003.

Also author of television plays Hardware, 1984, and Biting the Hands, 1989. Author of series episodes for Casuality, 1990, and Dr. Who, 1989.

OTHER

Writer for Kilbreck (radio series), 1983-84. Writer of screenplays, including Ladybird, Ladybird, 1994; Aimee & Jaguar, 1999; and I'm the Father, 2002.

SIDELIGHTS:

Scottish playwright and performer Rona Munro has established a tradition of writing about issues concerning gender and sexual politics. Although her plays are dramatic, she infuses them with comedy as well. In 1981, Munro's first play, Fugue, was produced at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has since written extensively for television, radio, and stage.

In the late 1980s, Munro wrote a number of stage plays that received acclaim and attention. In 1985, Piper's Cave was first produced at the Hamstead Theatre in London. While addressing issues of gender and power, the play also experiments with reality and myth. In 1989, Munro wrote Saturday at the Commodore, a play that draws strongly from her Scottish heritage. The one-woman monologue is spoken in the Aberdonian dialect and is the story of the woman's memory of childhood in Scotland. It was later published in the anthology Scot Free.

One of Munro's most recognized accomplishments came with the 1990 production of Bold Girls, a play about three women whose lives were altered when their men were killed or imprisoned for their political activities. Munro won the London Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Bold Girls in 1991.

In the 1990s, while continuing to write stage plays, Munro also wrote a number of well-received screenplays. Her 1994 screenplay Ladybird, Ladybird, directed by Ken Loach, is a drama about Maggie Conlon, a single mother trying to raise her four children while haunted by her violent past. Time contributor Richard Corliss wrote that the film "horrifies and edifies in equal measure." In 1997, Munro wrote Bumping the Odds, a screenplay produced for BBC Scotland. It tells the story of two working-class Scottish women and their experiences with Glasgow's loan sharks. The film was reviewed at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Then, in 2002, Munro wrote the screenplay for I'm the Father, a film that mixes comedy and drama together in the tale of a father, young son, and estranged wife. Daily Variety contributor Derek Elley commented that the film is a "satisfying, mature work … with an array of strong performances built on a solid scenario."

Also in 2002, Munro wrote the stage play Iron, which was produced at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh later that year. In 2003, Iron moved production to the Royal Court Theatre in London, and later to the Manhattan Theater Club in New York. The plot of Iron revolves around Fay, a woman convicted of murdering her husband, and Josie, Fay's daughter, who has come to visit her mother in prison after fifteen years of being apart from her. The play shows the two women as they struggle with redeveloping their relationship.

In its many productions, Iron has received favorable reviews by critics. Michael Billington, writing in the Manchester Guardian, called the play "emotionally honest and socially resonant, it transcends the melodramatic clichés of prison drama to explore the relationship between a mother and daughter and the corrosive nature of the penal system." Some reviews have focused on Munro's experience and talent in crafting her words. In a review for CurtainUp.com, contributor Lizzie Loveridge wrote that "the quality of writing and the descriptive passages of what life is like in prison are impressive, almost poetic in places." Other critics picked up on Munro's characteristic theme of delving into women's issues. British Theatre Guide Online reviewer Philip Fisher wrote that the play "offers tremendous insight into the human condition and particularly into women's lives."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Contemporary Dramatists, sixth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

PERIODICALS

Back Stage, March 1, 1991, Francesca Primus, "Blackburn Prize Shared by Two," p. 4.

Cineaste, winter-spring 1995, Leonard Quart, review of Ladybird, Ladybird, p. 84.

Daily Variety, September 9, 2002, Derek Elley, review of I'm the Father, p. 14.

Guardian (Manchester, England), January 28, 2003, Michael Billington, "Rona Munro Goes behind Bars," p. 18.

Hollywood Reporter, November 11, 2003, Frank Scheck, review of Iron, p. 22.

New Statesman, February 24, 2003, Sheridan Morley, "Musical Chairs," p. 46.

New York Times, October 3, 2003, p. 2.

Time, January 30, 1995, Richard Corliss, review of Ladybird, Ladybird, p. 88.

Variety, October 13, 1997, Derek Elley, review of Bumping the Odds, p. 98; October 27, 2003, Charles Isherwood, review of Iron, p. 40.

ONLINE

British Council—Singapore Web site,http://www.britishcouncil.org/ (September 29, 2004), interview with Munro.

British Theatre Guide Online,http://www.britishtheatreguide.info/ (September 28, 2004), Philip Fisher, review of Iron.

CurtainUp.com,http://www.curtainup.com/ (September 28, 2004), Lizzie Loveridge, review of Iron.

Doollee.com Guide to Modern Playwrights,http://www.doollee.com/ (October 13, 2004), "Rona Munro."

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (October 13, 2004), "Rona Munro."

Write Words UK Writers' Community,http://www.writewords.org.uk/ (September 28, 2004), interview with Munro.*