Playground Acquires Rory O’Neill Memoir for ‘Panti Bliss’ TV Series

Drag queen and gay rights activist
Fran Veale/REX/Shutterstock

New York- and London-based production company Playground is developing a comedy drama series for television based on Irish drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O’Neill’s memoir “Panti: Woman in the Making.”

Playground has optioned the rights to the memoir, originally published in 2014, which tells the story of O’Neill’s life and work, including becoming a self-described “accidental activist.” The adaptation will star O’Neill as his stage alter-ego, Panti Bliss, and will be set in and around his Dublin bar and nightclub.

“Rory is a genuinely unique voice, and we’re excited to be working with his alter-ego Panti Bliss on a series that will bring her provocative perspective on contemporary culture and the unspoken challenges that face the gay community to a mainstream television audience,” said Playground CEO Colin Callender.

O’Neill’s in-character speeches on homophobia led Panti to play a central role in Ireland’s legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, chronicled in Conor Horgan’s 2015 feature documentary “The Queen of Ireland.” Since then the character’s one-woman show “High Heels in Low Places” has been performed around the world in New York, Paris, Sydney, Sarajevo, and across Ireland and Britain.

“Watching his TED talk and his remarkable speech at the Abbey Theatre, I was utterly captivated by Rory’s ability to use the persona of Panti Bliss to talk about issues of homophobia, acceptance and tolerance in a bold, funny and very personal way that challenges all our easy preconceptions,” said Callender, who co-produced the hit stage play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

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