From the release (Richard Byrne is an editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education and the American editor of the Belgrade publishing house Alexandria Press):
Washington D.C. playwright and journalist Richard Byrne was
named the winner of the First Annual Prague Post Playwriting Festival
for his one-act play, Burn Your Bookes.
The prize of 20,000 Czech crowns ($900) was awarded on the closing night of the festival at Prague’s Divadlo Minor theatre on Monday, March 19. Burn Your Bookes received a full production along with two other semifinalists in the competition.
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Julek Neumann directed Byrne’s play about alchemy and science. Neumann is a noted director, translator and dramaturg in Prague and in Great Britain.
“It was an honor to have Julek Neumann as the director of my play,”
Byrne says. “He did a tremendous job.”
The play is set in Prague in the Renaissance court of Emperor Rudolph
II. Two alchemical pretenders are under sentence of death by starvation, where they engage in a desperate battle of wits and deception with the noted English alchemist Edward Kelley.
The cast included American actor Mark Bowen as the alchemist Muller,
Irish actor Brendan Payne as the alchemist Syrrus, and Anglo-Israeli
actor Akiva Zasman as Kelley.
During his month-long stay in Prague, Byrne finished a longer version of a play about alchemy and poetry based on the life of Edward Kelley and his step-daughter, the Neo-Latin poet Elizabeth Jane Weston. The
apartment that he rented for his stay in Prague was located on the same tiny street where Kelley lived for a time in the city’s Mala Strana section.
“It was a great piece of luck to find a place on Jansky Vrsek street,” says Byrne. “The good karmic vibes for the production were part of it. But Kelleyâ€™s house and my apartment rest just below the Prague Castle, where Kelley did some of his alchemical work for Emperor Rudolph on streets that have changed little since the Renaissance. It was easy to imagine just what path he took ascending to the castle for work and then coming back home to his family.”
Byrne was also interviewed by Czech Radioâ€™s English language service. A link to the audio can be found at www.radio.cz/en/article/89112 with a print version of the piece.
Richard Byrne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 202 494 6131. A full biography accompanies this release.
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Richard Byrne lives in Washington, D.C. He is an editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education and the American editor of the Belgrade publishing house Alexandria Press. His writing has been published in the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The American Prospect and on Time magazineâ€™s web site. He was also a longtime contributor to New York Press.
His first play, Untangling Ava, won the inaugural A.E. Hotchner
Playwriting Festival at Washington University in St. Louis. The play was produced in the Drama Studio at that university in May, 1989.
In 1999, Byrne was awarded a Pew Fellowship in International Reporting (now known as the International Reporting Project Fellowship) to study media in postwar Bosnia. He has also written liner notes for albums by R.E.M. and Uncle Tupelo.
He is now completing a full-length play about Edward Kelley and his
stepdaughter, Elizabeth Jane Weston. He has also finished a novel,
Luckyboys, about Americans in Prague.
Byrne received his B.A. in English from the University of Maryland at
Baltimore Country in 1986. He has an M.F.A. in poetry and playwriting
from Washington University in St. Louis.