A Century of Irish Drama
Widening the Stage
Edited by Stephen Watt, Eileen Morgan, and Shakir Mustafa
Foreword by Sivaun O’Casey
The history of the Irish theatre from the founding of the Abbey to today’s vibrant scene.
This book traces a significant shift in 20th century Irish theatre from the largely national plays produced in Dublin to a more expansive international art form. Confirmed by the recent success outside of Ireland of the "third wave" of Irish playwrights writing in the 1990s, the new Irish drama has encouraged critics to reconsider both the early national theatre and the dramatic tradition it fostered.
On the occasion of the centenary of the first professional production of the Irish Literary Theatre, the contributors to this volume investigate contemporary Irish drama’s aesthetic features and socio-political commitments and re-read the plays produced earlier in the century. Although these essayists cover a wide range of topics, from the productions and objectives of the Abbey Theatre’s
first rivals to mid-century theatre festivals, to plays about the "Troubles" in the North, they all reassess the oppositions so commonplace in critical discussions of Irish drama: nationalism vs. internationalism, high vs. low culture, urban experience vs. rural or peasant life.
A Century of Irish Drama includes essays on such figures as W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, J. M. Synge, Sean O’Casey, Brendan Behan, Samuel Beckett, Marina Carr, Brian Friel, Frank McGuinness, Christina Read, Martin McDonagh, and many more.
Stephen Watt is Professor of English and Cultural Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington, and author of Postmodern/Drama: Reading the Contemporary Stage (1998), Joyce, O’Casey, and the Irish Popular Theatre (1991), and essays on Irish and Irish-American culture. He has also written extensively on higher education, most recently Academic Keywords: A Devil’s Dictionary for Higher Education (1999) (with Cary Nelson).
Eileen M. Morgan is a lecturer in English and Irish Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is currently working on Sean O’Faolain’s biographies of De Valera and on Edna O’Brien’s 1990s trilogy, and is preparing a book-length study on the influence of radio in Ireland.
Shakir Mustafa is a Visiting Instructor in the English department at Indiana University. His work has appeared in such journals as New Hibernia Review and The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, and he is now translating Arabic short stories into English.
Drama and Performance Studies—Timothy Wiles, general editor
Introduction: Re-thinking the Abbey and the Concept of a National Theatre, Eileen Morgan
Part One: Challenging the Received View of Early Twentieth-Century Irish Theatre
The Founding Years and the Irish National Theatre That Was Not, John P. Harrington
The Alternative Aesthetic: The Theatre of Ireland’s Urban Plays, Nelson S. Ceallaigh Ritschel
Of Orangemen and Green Theatres: The Ulster Literary Theatre’s Regional Nationalism, Laura
Part Two: Theorizing and Historicizing Theatre Controversies
The Abbey and the Theatrics of Controversy, 1909–1915, Lucy McDiarmid
More Than a Morbid, Unhealthy Mind: Public Health and the Playboy Riots, Susan Cannon
Saying "No" to Politics: Sean O’Casey’s Dublin Trilogy, Shakir Mustafa
Part Three: Reconstructing Drama during the "Fatal Fifties"
O’Casey’s The Drums of Father Ned in Context, Christopher Murray
Love and Death: A Reconsideration of Behan and Genet, Stephen Watt
Playing Outside with Samuel Beckett, Judith Roof
Part Four: Contemporary Theatre Projects and Revivals
Translating Women into Irish Theatre History, Mary Trotter
"I’ve Never Been Just Me": Re-thinking Women’s Positions in Christina Reid’s Plays, Carla
Neither Here nor There: The Liminal Position of Teresa Deevy and Her Female Characters, Christie Fox
Playwrights of the Western World: Synge, Murphy, McDonagh, Josi Lanters
The Passion Theatre Company’s Everyday Life, Lauren Onkey
Part Five: Irish History on the Contemporary Stage
The Book at the Center of the Stage: Friel’s Making History and The Field Day Anthology of
Irish Writing, Kathleen Hohenleitner
"Ireland, the Continuous Past": Stewart Parker’s Belfast History Plays, Marilynn Richtarik
Frank McGuinness and the Ruins of History, James Hurt
The End of History: The Millennial Urge in the Plays of Sebastian Barry, Scott T. Cummings