Louise O’Neill’s bestselling young adult novel Asking For It is to be adapted for the stage in time for Cork’s Midsummer Festival in 2018. The world premiere will take place at the Everyman Theatre in Cork, the county in which the novel is set.
Asking For It, O’Neill’s second book, was awarded Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards in 2015 and the Literature Prize at the Irish Tatler’s Women of the Year Awards. It was also shortlisted for The Bookseller’s YA Book Prize in 2016, which O’Neill previously won for her debut novel Only Ever Yours.
O’Neill, who graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a BA in English Studies, tweeted on July 13th that she has been “dying” to talk about the adaptation. “As theatre is my first love, I am beyond excited at the thought of seeing a stage adaptation of Asking For It.” She noted that it was a “dream come true” to see the play produced by Landmark Productions. Landmark is one of Ireland’s leading theatre producers, having staged sell-out shows such as Once and Arlington in Dublin, Galway, London, and New York.
The novel is being adapted by playwright Meadhbh McHugh, who called the work “brilliant and necessary.” McHugh’s first full-length play, Helen and I, was shortlisted for the 2016 Stewart Parker Award.
Asking For It exemplifies hard-hitting contemporary fiction. It tackles sexual assault and rape culture in Ireland with painful honesty as the reader follows a year in the life of Emma, a secondary school student in the fictional town of Ballinatoom. The novel has sparked nationwide discussion with its often difficult subject matters. In 2016, O’Neill hosted the RTÉ Two documentary Asking For It: Reality Bites, where she investigated consent and sexual assault in the Irish judicial system and Irish culture. It is hoped that broadening the novel’s platform to the theatre will continue to engage audiences and capitalise on the potential of O’Neill’s work.
Television rights to the novel have already been acquired by Bandit Television.