Bríd Brennan (born 1953) is a Northern Irish actress. known for her theatre work, she originated the role of Agnes in the Brian Friel play Dancing at Lughnasa, for which she won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play. She is also a three-time Olivier Award nominee; for Rutherford and Son (1995), The Little Foxes (2002) and The Ferryman (2018).
Brennan reprised her role of Agnes in the 1998 film version of Dancing at Lughnasa, starring alongside Meryl Streep. Her television credits include Cracker: Brotherly Love (1995), South Riding (2011) and The Escape Artist (2013).
Beginning her acting career in Dublin, Brennan appeared in many of the major theatres including the Gate Theatre, the Abbey Theatre and the Gaiety Theatre, as well as touring community centres with Moving Theatre.
Brennan created the role of Agnes Mundy in Brian Friel's play Dancing at Lughnasa (1990). She played the role in the original Dublin, West End and Broadway (1992–1992) productions, winning the 1992 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
Brennan portrayed the character Janet in the National Theatre's 1994 production of Rutherford and Son and was subsequently nominated for an Olivier Award the following year. She then went on to play the lead role of Lady Macbeth in the Royal Shakespeare Company's national tour of Macbeth in 1996–1997.
In 1999, Brennan played Maisie Madigan in Pearson's production of Juno and the Paycock at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, alongside Michael Gambon whom she had previously appeared with in the 1998 film adaptation of Dancing at Lughnasa. In 2002 Brennan was again nominated for an Olivier award for her performance in the Donmar Warehouse's 2001 production of The Little Foxes. In 2006, she starred as Sister Aloysius in a production of Doubt at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
In March 2014 it was announced that she had been cast in the role of Kate Keller in Arthur Miller'sAll My Sons, playing at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park in May/June 2014, performing alongside Tom Mannion and Charles Aitken, the latter of whom she had previously performed with in The Old Vic's 2013 production of Sweet Bird of Youth.
Radio, television and film work
Brennan featured as a guest star in the British television series Cracker in 1995 as a prostitute-hating killer in the episode "Brotherly Love". Coincidentally, she co-starred in this particular episode with fellow Irish actor Lorcan Cranitch, with whom she would later co-star in Dancing at Lughnasa. Brid also acted in the BBC Play for Today series with fellow Belfast natives Sir Kenneth Branagh and James Ellis.
On Saturday 31st October 1992 Brid Brennan starred in the infamous BBC One's Screen One Halloween drama "Ghostwatch" alongside Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene, Mike Smith and Craig Charles. This ghost story written by Stephen Volk, was produced in the style of a live television broadcast from an alleged haunted house in North London. She appeared as the mother of the house Pamela Early who along with her two young daughters were experiencing paranormal events in their house. The drama caused uproar in the UK, with many feeling it was a hoax, designed to let the viewers think it was a real, live show and not a drama. However it did make Brid become well known, as 11 million viewers tuned into "Ghostwatch" on that Halloween night of 1992.
She reprised her performance of Agnes on screen in Noel Pearson's film adaptation of Dancing at Lughnasa (1998), starring Meryl Streep, for which Brennan won an Irish Film & Television Award for Best Actress.
Brennan gave an award-winning performance in 2012's Shadow Dancer, winning an IFTA for her role as Ma. According to the director James Marsh, the fact that she had grown up in West Belfast during the Troubles was significant as by casting Irish actors "it felt that they knew this world better than I did and I felt they could help me and guide me".
- 1992 – Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for Dancing at Lughnasa
- 1992 – Drama Desk Award for Ensemble Performance for Dancing at Lughnasa
- 1992 – Theatre World Special Award for Ensemble Performance for Dancing at Lughnasa
- 1995 – Nominated for Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Rutherford and Son
- 1999 – Irish Film & Television Award for Best Actress for Dancing at Lughnasa
- 2002 – Nominated for Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Little Foxes
- 2012 – Edinburgh International Film Festival for Best Performance in a British Feature Film for Shadow Dancer (shared with Andrea Riseborough)
- 2013 – Irish Film & Television Award for Best Supporting Actress Film for Shadow Dancer
- 2018 – Nominated for Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Ferryman
|1980||The Winter's Tale||Dorcas||Abbey Theatre|
|1990–1992||Dancing at Lughnasa||Agnes||Abbey Theatre|
|1994||Rutherford and Son||Janet||National Theatre|
|1996–1997||Macbeth||Lady Macbeth||Royal Shakespeare Company|
|1999||Juno and the Paycock||Maisie Madigan||Gaiety Theatre|
|2000–2001||La Lupa||Pina||Royal Shakespeare Company|
|2001||The Little Foxes||Birdie Hubbard||Donmar Warehouse|
|2003||Absolutely! (Perhaps)||Cini||Wyndham's Theatre|
|2004||The Dark||Janet||Donmar Warehouse|
|2004||Bone||Helen||Royal Court Theatre|
|2004–2005||By the Bog of Cats||Catwoman||Wyndham's Theatre|
|2005||The Cosmonaut's Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union||Vivienne/Sylvia||Donmar Warehouse|
|2005||Pillars of the Community||Marta Bernick||National Theatre|
|2006||Woman and Scarecrow||Scarecrow||Royal Court Theatre|
|2006||Doubt||Sister Aloysius Beauvier||Abbey Theatre|
|2007||Intemperance||Millie||Everyman Theatre Liverpool|
|2008||Brendan at the Chelsea||Beatrice||Riverside Studios|
|2008||Bliss||Wal-Mart Employee||Royal Court Theatre|
|2008||Dallas Sweetman||Mrs Reddan||Canterbury Cathedral|
|2010||Philadelphia, Here I Come!||Madge||Gaiety Theatre, Dublin|
|2011||The Veil||Mrs Goulding||National Theatre|
|2012||Henry V||Chorus/Queen Isabel||Shakespeare's Globe|
|2013||Desolate Heaven||Freda/Laoise/Bridie||Theatre 503|
|2013||Sweet Bird of Youth||Aunt Nonnie||The Old Vic|
|2013||A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)||Jocasta/Jocelyn||Derry Playhouse|
|2014||All My Sons||Kate Keller||Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park|
|2017||The Ferryman||Aunt Maggie Far Away||Royal Court Theatre & Gielgud Theatre transfer|
Filmography and television work
|1981||Excalibur||Lady in Waiting|
|1982||The Ballroom of Romance||Patty Byrne|
|1982 – 1984||Play for Today||Lorna Martin||Television series|
|1984||Anne Devlin||Anne Devlin|
|1985||Four Days in July||Collette|
|1985||Ursula and Glenys||Ursula|
|1987||Hidden City||The Wife – in B&W film|
|1989||Screen One||Lillian's Nurse||Television series|
|1990||Who Bombed Birmingham?||Sister of IRA man|
|1991||4 Play||Susan Turnbull||Television series|
|1992||Tell Tale Hearts||Sally McCann||Television mini-series|
|1993||Performance||Thea Elvsted||Television series|
|1994||Words Upon the Window Pane||Stella|
|1995||Cracker||Maggie Harvey||Television series|
|1996||Saint-Ex||Simone de Saint-Exupéry|
|1998||Dancing at Lughnasa||Agnes Mundy|
|1999||Felicia's Journey||Mrs Lysaght|
|2002||Any Time Now||Emily Moggin||Television series|
|2004||The Clinic||Sheila McNamara||Television series|
|2008||Trial & Retribution||Gemma Webster||Television series|
|2009||Swansong: Story of Occi Byrne||Theresa Byrne|
|2009||Father & Son||Maternity Clinic Doctor||Television series|
|2010||Doctor Who||The Visionary||Television series|
|2010||Little Crackers||Sister Mary Bernadette||Television series|
|2011||South Riding||Miss Sigglesthwaite||Television miniseries|
|2012||Upstairs Downstairs||Miss Poulson||Television Series|
|2012||Casualty||Jane Flynn||Television series|
|2013||The Escape Artist||Mary||Television series|
|2016||Florence Foster Jenkins||Kitty|