Obituary Note: Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy, "an influential Irish playwright known for dark tales told with a rustic musicality," died May 15, the New York Times reported. He was 83. Murphy wrote dozens of plays across a half-century, including A Whistle in the Dark, Famine, Conversations on a Homecoming, Bailegangaire and The Gigli Concert.

Garry Hynes, artistic director of Druid Theater Company, which produced many of the plays, said Murphy ranks with Brian Friel as one of Ireland's greatest contemporary playwrights, "though he was not as well known internationally, partly because he ventured into more difficult emotional terrain," the Times wrote.

"Some of Brian's plays were easier, I think, for non-Irish audiences to access," Hynes said. "In Tom's case, he was unflinching in his rage about the way things were. He wrote with a very raw essence. He didn't spare himself or his characters."

"Tom was ever daring, pushing the boundaries of Irish theater and challenging us with disturbing images of Irish life," the Abbey Theater of Dublin, which staged 19 premieres of his works, said in a tribute on its website. 

In 2001, Murphy told the Times: "What gets me down gets me started. It's a brooding thing."

In a statement, Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland, said, "The importance of Tom Murphy's contribution to Irish theatre is immeasurable and outstanding. We have had no greater use of language for the stage than in the body of work produced by Tom Murphy since his earliest work in the 1960s."

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