Singer, actor, comedian and playwright, Karen Egan originally qualified as a barrister (King’s Inns, Dublin) but soon changed course, opting to train at the Gaiety School of Acting, Dublin, and later at Trinity College, Dublin, graduating with an M Phil in Irish Theatre Studies.
As an actor, Karen has worked for a variety of theatre companies throughout Ireland, including The Abbey, Corn Exchange, Pan-Pan, Fishamble, Bewley’s Café Theatre and many more, touring to New York, Berlin, the UK and Tasmania.
Writing projects include: ‘The Choir’ (‘Kuoro’) a ten-part radio comedy series commissioned by YLE (Finland’s national broadcaster) which aired in spring 2020; ‘Stuck’ (‘Jumi’) a radio play commissioned by YLE (Finland’s national broadcaster), 2017; ‘Kippis’, a play commissioned by Rakastajat-teatteri, Finland, 2015. Her latest stage play ‘Warrior’ has received Arts Council funding for a theatre presentation in 2021. A participant in Irish Theatre Institute’s Six in the Attic Artists’ Mentoring Programme (2018-19), Karen was also a member of ITI’s Writer’s Hub (2019-2020).
Karen is a former member of Irish comedy singing trio ‘The Nualas’, who toured Ireland, the UK, Singapore and Australia. Their sell-out shows received five-star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for many years. ‘The Nualas’ also had their own radio series on BBC Radio Four, which was nominated for a BBC Light Entertainment award.
From 2011- 2016 Karen was invited to become artist-in-residence at Rakastajat-teatteri, Pori, one of the largest independent theatre companies in Finland. During this time she performed as an actor and singer in numerous shows, including Tiernapojat, Love Me or Leave Me, Kaikkeä Hyvää, Goodbye Pori, Kaikki Tarvii Lempee and Kaikki Tarvii Äitii, acting in both English and Finnish. Karen returned to Ireland in June 2016 and is now based in her native Dublin.
Film & Television
For film and television, Karen has appeared in Ripper Street (BBC), The Turning (Dreamworks), The Bailout (TV3), Rock Rivals (ITV) and the award-winning Irish comedy Your Bad Self, alongside fellow actors Domhnall Gleeson and Amy Huberman. She has also featured in Man About Dog (Treasure Films), Wasted (RTE), Fair City (RTE), Liz & Margie – Live! (RTE; LWT), X-it File (RTE) and The Stand-Up Show (BBC), hosted by comedian Ardal O’Hanlon. Karen plays a leading role in Ruth Meehan's feature film, The Bright Side (Playground Pictures), which will hit Irish cinemas nationwide in August 2021.
In 2014 Karen was artist-in-residence at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris where she developed the script for 'her play Kippis'. During this time she also performed at the Fête de la Musique with acclaimed Congolese guitarist Niwel Tsumba, to an audience of over 5000 people.
Music & Solo Shows
With sell-out successes at the National Concert Hall (Dublin), The Assembly Rooms (Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and Lainssuojattomatt Festivaali (Finland), Karen is renowned for her theatrical cabaret shows. Her stylised performances offer a captivating cocktail of surreal storytelling and cabaret classics, including the songs of Brel, Piaf, Dietrich, Weill, Waits and Cohen, alongside her original self-penned ballads.
In 2013, Karen composed the music to the song ‘Eight Little Whores’, featured in BBC’s Ripper Street.
Karen’s début album, 'Very Very,' was released in September 2006 to critical acclaim. She launched her follow-up album 'Charlatanne' in spring 2015, receiving five-star reviews:
“This album is a pleasure from beginning to end, with heartfelt honesty about the vagaries of life and love written all over it."
"Showcasing eleven consistently superb songs which get better with every listen, Charlatanne puts this diva-esque singer-songwriter very firmly on the map of major Irish talent"