This book focuses on the drama and poetry published since 1990. It also reflects upon related forms of creative work in this period, including film and the visual and performing arts. The book discusses some of the most topical issues which have emerged in Irish theatre since 1990. It traces the significance of the home in the poetry of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Vona Groarke. The book also focuses on the reconfigurations of identity, and the complex intersections of nationality, gender and race in contemporary Ireland. It shows how Roddy Doyle's return to the repressed gives articulation to those left behind by globalisation. The book then examines the ways in which post-Agreement Northern fiction negotiates its bitter legacies. It also examines how the activity of creating art in a time of violence brings about an anxiety regarding the artist's role, and how it calls into question the ability to re-present atrocity. The book further explores the consideration of politics and ethics in Irish drama since 1990. It talks about the swirling abundance of themes and trends in contemporary Irish fiction and autobiography. The book shows that writing in the Irish Republic and in the North has begun to accommodate an increasing diversity of voices which address themselves not only to issues preoccupying their local audiences, but also to wider geopolitical concerns.
Theatre as critic and conscience of Celtic Tiger Ireland
we were living in a police state.
But of course, neither of these things was actually said in the Irishtheatre
at the time. Of course, this is not the fault of Gough or of Fishamble
[Dublin-based theatre company] and the play is certainly better late than
never. It more than earns its place in the present tense. But it is thinner
than it would have been a decade ago, missing that whole layer of insinuating subversion … Nonetheless, it deserves to tour widely and to be seen
both for entertainment and instruction. It might be slightly depressing in
abasement, and the
ressentiment of slave morality conquers noble values in modern
Even as Yeats was recasting The Golden Helmet as
The Green Helmet , he was becoming more and more dissatisfied
with the national culture of his time and was taking up an increasingly
aristocratic stance in relation both to Irish society and the Irishtheatre. Synge’s death in the
Home places: Irish drama since 1990
Clare Wallace and OndPej PilnM
To appraise Irishtheatre of the recent past is an ominous task; to attempt
to predict what might be remembered in the future a treacherous one.
From 1990 to mid-2006 the Irish Playography database lists 842 plays,
devised pieces and adaptations produced in Ireland by Irishtheatre companies and other commercial bodies. Since 1990 critical interest in Irishtheatre has grown rapidly, spurred on in part by the Abbey Theatre
centenary in 2004
the 1990s and 2000s. In the context of an Irishtheatre scene criticised by Jason King and George Seremba among others for being
largely silent about social change related to immigration (King, 2005: 121; 2007:
41–2), the work of these men is both extremely important and crucially limited.
As Patrick Lonergan argues, ‘it is important not to exaggerate the value of white
middle-class writers producing plays for white middle-class audiences about
the marginalization of Ireland’s most recent immigrants’ (2004: 150). Lonergan
implies that the perspectives of white Irish
, Kazem Shahryari (an Iranian-born, Paris-based director),
and French translator Emile-Jean Dumay, who had introduced
Shahryari to Bolger’s work. Taken together, these plays by writers of
different generations, genders, geographical origins and aesthetic sensibilities amount to a series of interventions aimed at bringing to the
consciousness of Irish and international audiences the plight of those
many immigrants and refugees seeking a new life in Ireland. They bear
out Jason King’s contention that ‘more than any other literary or
performing art form, the Irishtheatre
of Irish nationalism’s historical aspiration to decolonisation’
(Merriman, 2011: 29).
While decolonisation appears to be an unaccomplished task, there is a strong
feeling that ‘Irishtheatre … has the capacity to imagine a Decolonised Ireland
of solidarity in diverse citizenships’ (Merriman, 2011: 225). Reading Irishtheatre of the 1990s, Victor Merriman advocates an interventionist theatre that acts
as ‘a witness’, a central figure which ‘stands among the facts and struggles of
history … so that their materiality and their meaning may be available to the
no clear ideological fixity, for somewhere between the pastness of place and the intangible of space come what Marc Augé (1995 ) has defined as non-places – the anonymous shopping mall or architecturally interchangeable airport duty-free area.
As the above terms also reflect, space intersects with time. In their monograph, Mapping IrishTheatre , Chris Morash and Shaun Richards underline the importance of understanding perceptions and representations of Ireland as existing in different time/spaces. Thus, the West of Ireland is frequently understood as
Religion, Jacobitism, and the politics of representation in Lady Gregory’s The White Cockade
when the Catholics of Ireland ruined themselves in the Stuart cause’.100 The
play’s criticism of Catholic allegiance to the Stuart cause is recognised and,
it appears, shared and accepted.
Gregory’s approach has also been lauded by Ernest Boyd, one of the
Revival’s early critics, who argued that the
treatment of one of the most delicate and dangerous subjects in Irish history
indicates that Lady Gregory is able to bring considerable impartiality to the
portrayal of national subjects. The dramatists of the IrishTheatre have broken
with the tradition
Foregrounding the body and performance in plays by Gina Moxley, Emma Donoghue and Marina Carr
the body is a sign of both social positionality and
cultural experience associated with the symbolic. At the same time it
also reflects individual desire that remains undefined by communal discourses and retains ties with the semiotic. Subjectivity is evoked in this
kind of theatre as a process rather than a fixed entity, a site of rivalling
forces that ultimately defy strict categorisations of the self.
Critical accounts of the Irishtheatre have highlighted the privileging, until very recently, of the verbal and literary over the physical and