Enda Walsh was born in Kilbarrack, North Dublin in 1967. His father ran a furniture shop and his mother had been an actress. He is the youngest of six. Walsh states that he saw his father, a salesman, as the 'lead actor' in the business, but as Ireland’s economy fluctuated, so did furniture sales. Notably during the recession in the 1980s when profits were low Walsh says that he was earning more money managing his own newspaper round enterprise than his father was bringing home from the shop. Life in the large family was full of incident and Enda has claimed that many of his plays find their origin in his relationships with his father, his mother and her friends, his three brothers and two sisters.
Enda attended the Greendale Community School where he was taught by both Roddy Doyle and Paul Mercier. After studying Communications at Rathmines College and acting for the Dublin Youth Theatre Walsh travelled in Europe working as a film editor. On his return to Dublin he found few opportunities and so moved to Cork where he acted for theatre-in-education Graffiti Theatre. In 1993 Walsh began working with Pat Kiernan, director of Corcadorca, a collaborative ensemble which devised what Walsh calls ‘terrible’ plays. In 1996 Disco Pigs premiered at the Triskel Art Centre in Cork. This was the start of an international career writing for the stage and screen. Feeling himself to be 'too comfortable' in Dublin, in 2005 Walsh and his wife, Jo Ellison, who is currently fashion editor of the Financial Times, moved to London. They live in Kilburn with their daughter, Ada, and their cockapoo, Alvin.
Starting with his experience at Corcadorca Walsh has never restricted himself to straight plays but has been happy to cross genres. Originally he would write music for one member of the ensemble and opportunities for dance for others. In the list of Walsh's works, there are musicals, and an opera. He also designs art installations as well as writing radio plays, such as Four Big Days in the Life of Dessie Banks for RTÉ and The Monotonous Life of Little Miss P for the BBC.
Many of Walsh's plays including Disco Pigs, Bedbound, Small Things, Chatroom, New Electric Ballroom, The Walworth Farce, Penelope and Misterman, have been translated into more than 20 languages and have had productions throughout Europe and in Australia, New Zealand and the US.
His play Ballyturk premiered at the 2014 Galway International Arts Festival starring Cillian Murphy, Stephen Rea and Mikel Murfi, with productions in Dublin, Cork and London in the same year. Three members of the Gleeson Family (Brendan, Domhnall and Brian) played the lead roles of The Walworth Farce at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, in their first theatrical production together. He adapted Roald Dahl's book The Twits for the theatre with its first production in April–May 2015. An opera entitled The Last Hotel, with music by Donnacha Dennehy, premiered in the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2015, played in the Dublin Theatre Festival in September 2015 and started an international tour beginning in Royal Opera House, London, in October 2015. He wrote a musical play with David Bowie entitled Lazarus, which premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop (Off-Broadway) from mid-November 2015 to mid-January 2016. The UK production opened at the Kings Cross Theatre in London on 25 October 2016, ending 22 January 2017.
The Galway International Arts Festival has played host to a new departure for Walsh, involving art installation rooms with audio monologues, including Room 303 featuring the voice of Niall Buggy (2014), A Girl's Bedroom featuring the voice of Charlie Murphy (2015), Kitchen featuring the voice of Eileen Walsh (2016) and Bathroom featuring the voice of Paul Reid (2017). These installations have also been shown in the Kennedy Arts Centre, Washington (May 2016) and the Irish Arts Center, New York (May 2017).
Walsh writes screenplays too, starting with his short film Not a Bad Christmas (1999). He adapted his play Disco Pigs, for the screen and co-wrote the screenplay of Hunger which was directed by Steve McQueen and starred Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, the IRA hunger striker who starved himself to death in protest over British rule. He also adapted his play Chatroom for a film directed by Hideo Nakata. He is currently under commission for three films, an adaptation of the children's story Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson (for Cuba Pictures), a film entitled Jules in the City based on the life and music of Rufus Wainwright and an adaptation of Gitta Sereny's book Into That Darkness, about the life of Franz Stangl, the commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps.
Walsh states that his plays are about ‘some sort of love and need for calm and peace’. He says that his play Penelope is about ‘longing, love, lost love”. He says that ‘all the plays are effectively about theatre, about writing’. Also that ‘all the plays are about routines’. Walsh has often suggested that what interests him is ‘about me actually getting through the day, you know’. He speaks of his experience, in London, of extreme OCD. He sees his characters as needing ‘to proclaim and proclaim and proclaim ... and to what? You know, to what, construct rules and sort of mechanisms within their living room but to what end? Only to try to escape them again and probably build more and more routines and patterns and all that sort of thing’. Walsh also states ‘what motivates me in theatre has always been to get close to characters who’re on the edge of madness, or have entered it. It invigorates me to think that we’re all the same….’ Another statement Walsh made was ‘I don’t like seeing everyday life on stage: it’s boring. I like my plays to exist in an abstract, expressionistic world: the audience has to learn its rules and then connect with these characters who are, on the surface dreadful monsters'.
Misterman (1999) – Corcadorca Theatre Company, Granary Theatre, Cork. Origin Theatre, New York, Washington and Dublin. Galway International Arts Festival, Black Box Theatre, Galway (2011): with music by Donnacha Dennehy. St. Ann's Warehouse, New York (2011). National Theatre, London.
The Walworth Farce (2006) – Druid Theatre Company, Town Hall Theatre, Galway. Edinburgh Festival. World Tour 2009–2010, including New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Toronto, Los Angeles, Miami, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney, Wellington, London, Salford, Oxford. A production in the Olympia Theatre starred Brendan, Domhnall and Brian Gleeson in the lead roles.
How These Men Talk (2008) – Zurich Schauspielhaus, Switzerland. Druid Theatre Company, Galway.
Delirium (2008) – An adaptation of Dostoevsky's 'The Brothers Karamazov' for Theatre O Abbey Theatre, Dublin. Barbican Theatre, London.
The Man in the Moon (2009) – co-written with Jack Healy, The Albany, Deptford, London.
My Friend Duplicity (2010) – short play – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Festival.
Penelope (2010) – OberhausenTheater: Ruhr.2010, Druid Theatre Company, Galway;. Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Festival; world tour included Helsinki, New York and London, Steppenwolf Theater, Chicago (2011)
Sixty Six (2011) – one of 66 writers who contributed a contemporary response to each book of the King James Bible, Bush Theatre.
Ballyturk (2014) – with Mikel Murfi, Cillian Murphy and Stephen Rea, featuring music by Teho Teardo. Premiered at 2014 Galway International Arts Festival at the Black Box Theatre, before moving to the Olympia Theatre, the Cork Opera House and the National Theatre London.
Room 303 (2014) – Art installation Room 303 featuring the voice of Niall Buggy, premiered at the Galway International Arts Festival.
A Girl's Bedroom (2015) – Art installation A Girl's Bedroom featuring the voice of Charlie Murphy, premiered at the Galway International Arts Festival followed by the Kennedy Arts Centre, Washington (May 2016).
The Last Hotel, (2015) – An opera with music by Donnacha Dennehy, featuring Robin Adams, Claudia Boyle, Katherine Manley and Mikel Murfi, and the Crash Ensemble premiered in August 2015 at the Edinburgh International Festival, followed by the Dublin Theatre Festival (September 2015), Royal Opera House, London (October 2015), and St. Ann's Warehouse, New York (January, 2016).
Kitchen (2016) – Art installation featuring the voice of Eileen Walsh, premiered at the Galway International Arts Festival.
Arlington (2016)<ref>http://stannswarehouse.org/show/arlington/accessdate=25 June 2017<ref>, Leisureland, Galway (July, 2016), The Abbey, Dublin (January, 2017), St. Ann's Warehouse, New York (May, 2017).
Rooms (2016) combining the art installations 'Room 303', 'A Girl's Bedroom' and 'Kitchen', featuring the voices Niall Buggy, Charlie Murphy and Eileen Walsh, which premièred at the Galway Arts Festival last summer, followed by the Irish Arts Center, New York (May 2017).
The Same (2017) with Eileen and Catherine Walsh. Corcadorca Theatre Company. Premiered in February 2017 at Old Cork Prison.
The Second Violinist, (2017) – An opera with music by Donnacha Dennehy, featuring Aaron Monaghan, in the lead role, with singers Máire Flavin, Sharon Carty and Benedict Nelson, together with the Chorus of Wide Open Opera, and Crash Ensemble. Premiered in July 2017 at the Galway International Arts Festival, followed by the Dublin Theatre Festival (October 2017).
Bathroom (2017) – Art installation featuring the voice of Paul Reid, premiered at the Galway International Arts Festival.
Not a Bad Christmas (1999) - Short Film.
Disco Pigs (2001) - film directed by Kirsty Sheridan.
Island of the Aunts – an adaptation of the children's story by Eva Ibbotson under commission for Cuba Pictures
Jules in the City – story based on the life and music of Rufus Wainwright for Daybreak Pictures/Film Four
Into that Darkness – the story of Franz Stangl SS commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps under commission for Element/Film Four.
Disco Pigs (1996): George Devine Award and Stewart Parker Awards. Best Fringe Production Award 1996, Dublin Fringe Festival. Arts Council Playwrights Award 1996. Critic's Award 1997, Edinburgh Festival.
Bedbound (2000): Best Actor Award for Peter Gowen 2000, Irish Times Theatre Awards. Fringe First winner and Critic's Award 2001, Edinburgh Festival.
The New Electric Ballroom (2005): Theater Heute's Best Foreign Play 2005, Munich Kammerspiele. Fringe First winner and Herald Archangel Award 2008, Edinburgh Festival. Best New Play Award 2008, Irish Times Theatre Awards. Best Supporting Actor Award for Mikel Murfi 2009, Irish Times Theatre Awards. Best New Play 2010, Obie Award.
The Walworth Farce (2006): Fringe First winner 2007, Edinburgh Festival.
Penelope (2010): Fringe First winner 2010, Edinburgh Festival.
Misterman (2011): Best Actor Award for Cillian Murphy and Best Set Design for Jamie Vartan 2011, Irish Times Theatre Awards. Outstanding Solo Performance for Cillian Murphy 2012, Drama Desk Award.
Once (2011): Winner of 3 Lucille Lortel Awards, including Outstanding Musical, with 4 additional nominations. Best Musical Award 2012, New York Drama Critics' Circle. Outstanding Broadway Musical, Outstanding Book and Director of Musical 2011, Outer Critics Circle Awards, with 4 additional nominations. Distinguished Production of a Musical 2012, Drama League Award, with 2 additional nominations. Winner of 4 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical, with 2 additional nominations. Winner of 8 Tony Awards in 2012, including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical, with 3 additional nominations. Best Musical Theater Album 2013, Grammy Award. Winner of 2 Laurence Olivier Awards in 2014, with 6 nominations including Best New Musical.
Ballyturk (2014): Best Production, Irish Times Theatre Awards. Best Production and Sound Design 2014, Irish Times Theatre Awards.
The Last Hotel (2015): Best Opera Irish Times Theatre Awards.
The Second Violinist: The Fedora - Generali Prize for Opera 2017.
Not a Bad Christmas (1999): Short Script Award 1999, Cork Film Centre/RTÉ.