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Chapter 7 - ‘Somehow It Is Not the Same’: Irish Theatre and Transition

from Part II - Genres in Transition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2020

Eve Patten
Affiliation:
Trinity College Dublin
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Summary

This chapter considers theatre productions in Ireland between the 1950s and 1970s, asserting the continued relevance and sharpness of Irish theatre in relation to social and political transition. Emerging mid-century playwrights such as Tom Kilroy and Brian Friel found themselves at a challenging and uncertain moment in Irish theatre, coming in the wake of the Abbey’s revivalist triumph but exposed too to the experimental movements of European theatre practice. Determined to write against inherited theatrical conventions and the increasing national dependence on a stagnant domestic realism, they looked to forge a new dramatic language adequate to a society in a state of acute and disorienting transition. The Pike Theatre was one of an array of independent theatres that succeeded in staging major avant-garde productions, such as Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in 1955. Playwrights working more explicitly within inherited naturalistic modes, such as M. J. Molloy, meanwhile, found more subtle means of subverting the spatial conventions of Irish theatre in a way that drew attention to imperative social issues such as mass emigration.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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