Stephen Rea to receive Irish Times Special Tribute Award

Award is part of the celebrations at this year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards

The actor Stephen Rea will receive this year's Special Tribute award at the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards.

The presentation will be made at the awards ceremony, which takes place on Sunday, February 22nd, at the National Concert Hall.

The Special Tribute Award is giving each year to someone who has built up an outstanding body of work and is a vibrant presence within Irish theatre. Previous winners include Olwen Fouéré, Marie Mullen and Tom Murphy. The winner is chosen by the writers, editors and organisers of the awards.

Rea was chosen this year in recognition of his continued commitment to the artform, his work with the Field Day theatre company, and his recent roles, particularly in Ballyturk, directed and written by Enda Walsh.

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Stephen Rea was born in Belfast in 1946. He followed a degree in English at Queen's University by training at the Abbey Theatre School, before relocating to London in the early 1970s. An acting breakthrough came with the experimental theatre group Freehold, and he also worked with the Focus Company in Dublin. In 1980, he established the Field Day Theatre Company, with Tom Paulin, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney and Seamus Deane.

He has frequently collaborated with Sam Shepard, Neil Jordan, Steward Parker and Tom Kilroy. In 1996, he was directed by Harold Pinter in a production of Ashes to Ashes. In a 2007 interview with this newspaper, Rea said: "I claim I was directed by Sam Beckett. The great Donald McWhinney directed [Endgame] , but Sam was in the room all the time so it felt like being directed by him."

In 2013, Rea made a return to the stage with Field Day in A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations), a re- interpretation of the story of Oedipus by Sam Shepard, which toured internationally.

His film work includes high-profile roles in Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire and Breakfast on Pluto. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as Fergus in the 1992 film The Crying Game.

The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards take place on February 22nd, with nominations in 13 categories. Among the most nominated productions are GIAF/Landmark's Ballyturk, by Enda Walsh; the Abbey Theatre's Our Few and Evil Days, by Mark O'Rowe; and the Lyric Theatre's Punk Rock, by Simon Stephens, with six mentions each. Among the individual nominees are Cillian Murphy, Sinead Cusack, Lewis J Stadlen, Aoife Duffin, Aisling O'Sullivan and Ciarán Hinds. This year, the An Post Irish Stamps Audience Choice prize has been introduced, in which more than 5,000 members of the public voted for their favourite show of 2014. Tickets for the event are available from nch.ie.