Thursday, August 23, 2012

Richard Kay of the Daily Mail on Garry O'Connor

Daily Mail Columnist Richard Kay
The Daily Mail's Richard Kay makes the point! Writer Garry O'Connor, known for his 'warts-and-all biographies' of  Vivien Leigh and Alec Guinness, and lesser performers the Blairs of Number 10, has penned a sensational personal memoir. Published as two plays, it has the intriguing title Debussy Was My Grandfather.

O'Connor recently discovered that Maggie Teyte, a great British soprano of the early twentieth century, was his grandmother, through her liaison with the celebrated French composer Claude Debussy. Debussy coached the teenage Maggie when she lived in Paris. O'Connor had always believed her to be his great-aunt, but now it appears she was his grandmother.

'I can't say it has changed my life,' says Garry. 'But it might explain why I am such a good guitar player.'

Debussy Was My Grandfather is published by CentreHouse Press. Read more from Richard Kay.

Friday, August 03, 2012

About Garry O'Connor

Garry O'Connor

Garry O'Connor is a playwright, biographer and novelist, noted for his publications on theatrical and literary figures. Son of Cavan O’Connor, Irish tenor, BBC broadcasting star and Variety Artist, and Rita, also a singer, maiden name Odoli-Tate, O’Connor is the grand-nephew of Dame Maggie Teyte DBE, Croix de Lorraine, Chevalier, Legion d'Honneur, the international opera soprano and interpreter of French song, and of James William Tate,  songwriter, accompanist, and composer.

Educated at St Albans School and King’s College, Cambridge, where he was an Exhibitioner and State Scholar, and won the James Essay Prize, O’Connor was President of University Actors. He was taught at Cambridge by Professors Boris Ford and John Broadbent, with George Rylands as his Director of Studies, where O’Connor concentrated mainly on directing and writing plays. He is an MA of King’s College.

After Cambridge, winning a French Government scholarship to Paris for drama, he studied mime at the École Jacques Le Coq in Paris before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company as Michel Saint-Denis’s assistant. This was during the Peter Hall seasons at Stratford Upon Avon. Thereafter he directed plays in London and elsewhere until his decision to become a full-time writer.

O’Connor directed his own version of Jonson’s Catiline in the Stratford Studio, with Roy Dotrice, Janet Suzman, and Jean Tardieu’s The Keyhole at the Aldwych Theatre. He directed the London premiere of Alun Owen’s A Little Winter Love at Stratford East (‘directed by Garry O’Connor with almost the psychic speed of communication that there can be about jazz’: Penelope Gilliatt, Observer), devised and directed A John Whiting Evening, premieres at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and productions at RADA, the London Drama Centre, and Webber-Douglas School. He also read plays for the RSC and translated plays from French for the RSC, and later for the National Theatre in Olivier’s regime.

O’Connor was the first Resident Dramatist and Appeals Director of the Hampstead Theatre Club. He has had eight of his own plays produced, among them I Learnt in Ipswich How to Poison Flowers (1969), at the Arts Theatre Ipswich, directed by Nick Barter, The Musicians (Mercury Theatre, London, 1970), in which Tom Conti made his first appearance on a London Stage, Semmelweis at the Edinburgh Festival (1976), which according to Harold Hobson writing in the Sunday Times ‘has saved the dramatic reputation of this year's Festival’, while Michael Billington (critic) wrote in The Guardian that it ‘unnervingly and absorbingly demonstrates that pride is often the counter-balance to ineradicable prejudice’.

His Dialogue Between Friends at the Open Space was based on his involvement with Arnold Wesker’s controversial The Friends, staged at the Roundhouse in 1970. His book Darlings of the Gods was adapted as a three-part mini-series for Thames Television and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1991, and was filmed in Australia. ore recently Campion’s Ghost, adapted from his novel about John Donne, was performed on Radio 4 (1997), with Paul McGann and Timothy West in the leading roles. He has also written and presented features for Radio 3, and acted as consultant on BBC 1 documentaries on Laurence Olivier and Pope John Paul II, appearing in the latter.

Garry O'Connor's Debussy Was My Grandfather is published by CentreHouse Press.