Stewart Parker Conference

Stewart Parker Conference

The 2 November, 2008 marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of Stewart Parker, who was cut down, like John Millington Synge, just as he reached the height of his dramatic and poetic powers.

To commemorate the life and work of Belfast’s most visionary playwright, Queen’s Drama Department, in association with theInstitute of Irish Studies, will host the first major international conference evaluating Parker’s extraordinary artistic achievement.

In addition to this, and in close association with the Stewart Parker Trust, the Belfast Festival and the BBC, an exciting retrospective of Stewart Parker’s work will also be hosted by Queen’s Drama Department. This will comprise several rehearsed readings, film screenings, walking tours, photographic displays, and the publication of three books of Parker’s work. All this activity will culminate in a performed miscellany of Stewart’s work featuring Stephen Rea, Frances Tomelty, Michael Longley and others.

I sincerely hope you’ll find these events enjoyable; that they help to illuminate Stewart’s genius; and that they germinate further future interest in one of the most original and important artists to have emerged from Belfast – though so few of its citizens presently recognise his name.

In his work for radio, stage, and screen - as well as his poetry, journalism and criticism - Stewart’s politics and aesthetics were extraordinary for their pluralism and prescience. And though this week marks the 20th anniversary of Stewart’s death, I can think of no better reason for staging, screening, and scrutinising his work now, than the fact it has a greater resonance and relevance today than it ever had in his own lifetime. Surely there is no greater signature of genius than that?

Dr Mark Phelan
Festival & Conference organiser
QUB Drama