The plays of Stewart Love mark a new and distinct note in Northern Irish drama.
Love's first play, The Randy Dandy (1960) - the first Ulster Group Theatre play after the debacle of the 'banning' of Sam Thompson's Over the Bridge and unjustly overshadowed as a result of the controversy - saw the emergence of a vibrant and recognisable modernity on the local stage. Indebted to Osborne's Jimmy Porter and the other Angry Young Men of the period, Love's Dandy Jordan, locked in an unhappy marriage, is a voice of discontent, of protest at an emotionally, imaginatively and sexually stultifying culture.
Love quickly followed this with other plays of striking realism and protest. His second play for the stage, The Big Long Bender (1962), is arguably the first Irish play to convincingly present the new rock and roll youth culture, concerning itself with sexual freedom and the price paid for it. More traditional in its themes, The Big Donkey (1964) is a bleak portrayal of working-class life on Belfast's waterfront and the ever-present struggle against unemployment. The final play of this selection, Me Oul Segocia (1980) - written at the onset of the Troubles but only professionally produced over a decade later - stands as a play of rare power and honesty in its exploration of the communal fault lines underlying life in the North.
Stewart Love: Selected Plays - edited and introduced by Scott Boltwood provides not just ample testimony to Love's importance as a dramatist but is a bracing exploration of life in the north of Ireland.
Born in Belfast in 1934, 5tewart Love is a former teacher and has written many plays for the stage, radio and television - though he freely admits to finding writing for the stage the most satisfying. Among his other successful plays are; A Headful of Crocodiles (1961), The Sugar Cubes (1961), Plain Jane (1963) and, Titanic (1979). For many years, he produced scripts of a cultural or historical nature for BBC schools. As well as two collections of plays for children, he has also written a children's novel, The Great Marco Scandal (1980). He lives in Belfast with his wife, Elizabeth.
Scott Boltwood is a theatre historian and professor at Emory and Henry College, Virginia, whose work focuses on Northern Irish theatre in the post-war era. His most recent book is; Brian friel, Ireland and the North (Cambridge University Press, 2007).