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Bernard Shaw is usually omitted from critical studies and histories of the Irish Dramatic Revival. The reasons are not far to seek. By the time Ireland's National Theatre was founded at the Abbey in 1904, Shaw had been resident in England for almost thirty years and had written a series of plays set there. But while he continued to reside in England and have his plays premiered in London, this did not preclude an active interest and involvement on Shaw's part in the Irish Dramatic Revival, to whose repertoire his John Bull's Other Island is a major contribution. There were other significant involvements in the Abbey Theatre by Shaw, including its staging in 1909 of The Shewing-up of Blanco Posnet, a play that the Lord Chamberlain had banned from performance in England. Yeats and Lady Gregory argued passionately not only against those who found Blanco Posnet offensive but equally against those who contended ‘that it is not a fitting thing for us to set upon our stage the work of an Irishman, who is also the most famous of living dramatists’. In 1915, Shaw wrote a one-act play for the Abbey Theatre set (like most of John Bull) in Ireland, O'Flaherty, V.C. The military authorities felt its subject matter of recruiting far too volatile to be staged in Ireland at the height of World War I. On this occasion, the Abbey backed down and the play was not staged there. But the debate over Shaw's play in many ways anticipates the later argument concerning Sean O'Casey's World War I play, The Silver Tassie (1929), which the Abbey rejected and which Shaw vigorously defended. In this and other ways, Shaw continued to wield a strong influence on the Abbey Theatre from across the Irish Sea.
When first confronted in 1894 with Arms and the Man on stage, Yeats reacted with what he described as ‘admiration and hatred’. His conflicted feelings about Shaw's drama emerged most fully in 1904 in response to John Bull, which he had commissioned for the opening of Ireland's National Theatre at the Abbey. In his letter to Shaw, Yeats naturally accentuated the positive: ‘You have said things in this play which are entirely true about Ireland, things which nobody has ever said before, and these are the very things which are most part of the action’.
Background: Reported rates of depression in schizophrenia vary considerably.
Objective: To measure the prevalence of depression in a first episode sample of people with schizophrenia.
Methods: All referrals with a first episode of schizophrenia diagnosed using SCID interviews were assessed pre-discharge and again six months later. We used the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia (CDSS) and Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) to assess the severity of symptoms.
Results: Pre-discharge, 10.4% of the sample met CDSS criteria for depression. According to the PANSS depression (PANSS -D) subscale, 3% of patients were depressed, with a mean score of 7.48 (SD = 2.97). Only 3% of patients pre-discharge were found to be depressed on both the CDSS and the PANSS-D. Six months later 6.5% were depressed according to the CDSS. However none reached depression criteria according to the PANSS-D. The CDSS correlated with PANSS-D both pre-discharge and at follow-up. Feelings of depression and self-deprecation were the most common symptoms at baseline and follow-up. The CDSS was unrelated to negative symptoms at both stages. A lifetime history of alcohol abuse increased the risk for depression.
Conclusion: Rates of depression in this sample were low. The CDSS appears to discriminate between depression and negative symptoms. Like the general population, alcohol misuse is a risk factor for depression in first episode schizophrenia.
Synge's plays have not faded from the Irish stage, unlike the work of so many other playwrights of the Irish Dramatic Movement. His own works continue to merit regular production, particularly The Playboy of the Western World, and attract some of the most outstanding interpreters of the contemporary Irish stage. Yet the subversive originality of Synge's work is often more apparent nowadays in the profound impact and influence he continues to exert on contemporary Irish drama. Michael Billington, theatre critic of the Guardian, welcomed the DruidSynge staging by director Garry Hynes of Synge's six canonical plays in July 2005 as offering 'a rare chance to assess the man who did so much to shape modern Irish drama', and went on to note how Synge had been a 'fount of inspiration for other Irish writers'. Of the contemporary dramatists, Billington cites Martin McDonagh and Conor McPherson and could well have added the names of Brian Friel, Tom Murphy and Marina Carr, all five of whom will be discussed in this chapter. When Friel - the most outstanding of contemporary Irish playwrights and arguably Synge's modern inheritor - spoke at the reopening of the 'Synge cottage' on Inis Meáin in 1999 he acknowledged Synge's influence not only on his own formidable body of work but on that of every other Irish playwright: 'On this occasion, on this island, it is very important to me to acknowledge the great master of Irish theatre, the man who made Irish theatre, the man who reshaped it and refashioned it, and the man before whom we all genuflect.' As Friel openly acknowledged, Synge laid out the template of what an Irish theatre might be.
During the 1990s and 2000s Dublin's Gate Theatre, under the artistic direction of Michael Colgan, staged a series of festivals celebrating the achievement of two of the century's greatest playwrights, Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. Both involved productions of individual plays performed by Irish practitioners or by foreign artists long associated with the playwright, backed up by seminars and debates. But there were differences. One playwright, Beckett, was recently dead when the Festival of his dramatic works was first staged in 1991; the other, Pinter, was alive and present throughout all three of his, directing on two occasions, acting on one. It is possible to stage all of Beckett's plays on the one occasion, as was done in 1991; whereas even with a Pinter Festival in 1994, another in 1997 and a third on the playwright's seventy-fifth birthday in 2005 there still remain key works unperformed and an element of choice colours each occasion. But a third factor relates to Ireland and the decision to stage a festival of a dramatist's work. The staging of all of Beckett's plays in Dublin by a predominantly Irish theatrical group was an important step in the establishment of Beckett as an Irish (as opposed to an English, French, international or non-specific) playwright; the adoption of Irish accents by Ben Kingsley and Alan Howard in Peter Hall's revisiting of Waiting for Godot in 1997 may be taken as confirmation of the extent to which Beckett's Irishness is now universally conceded. The same was even more the case in 2006, the centenary of Beckett's birth. But Pinter is English and cannot even claim the Irish ancestors that might have got his plays produced at the Abbey Theatre.
Brian Friel is widely recognized as Ireland's greatest living playwright, winning an international reputation through such acclaimed works as Translations (1980) and Dancing at Lughnasa (1990). This 2006 collection of specially commissioned essays includes contributions from leading commentators on Friel's work (including two fellow playwrights) and explores the entire range of his career from his 1964 breakthrough with Philadelphia, Here I Come! to his most recent success in Dublin and London with The Home Place (2005). The essays approach Friel's plays both as literary texts and as performed drama, and provide the perfect introduction for students of both English and Theatre Studies, as well as theatregoers. The collection considers Friel's lesser-known works alongside his more celebrated plays and provides a comprehensive critical survey of his career. This is a comprehensive study of Friel's work, and includes a chronology and further reading suggestions.
Excepting Beckett (who remains a special case), Brian Friel is the most important Irish playwright in terms both of dramatic achievement and cultural importance to have emerged since the Abbey Theatre's heyday. For all of the Irish Theatre Movement's fame worldwide, the canon of its enduring works is small: J. M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World (1907) and Sean O'Casey's Dublin trilogy. Brendan Behan promised much in the 1950s but the role of Stage Irishman took over and he died young; Samuel Beckett wrote his plays in French and in a context which denied any hint of the local. While other major contemporary Irish playwrights from Friel's generation have made a reputation in their own country (Tom Murphy, Thomas Kilroy, John B. Keane), almost without exception that success has not been replicated abroad. (The exception which proves the rule is Hugh Leonard's Da, which won a Tony Award in 1973.) But from Brian Friel's emergence in 1964 with the ground-breaking Philadelphia, Here I Come!, which went on from its success at that year's Dublin Theatre Festival to a nine-month run on Broadway, each of the subsequent decades in his writing career has seen at least one of his works achieve critical and worldwide success, notably Aristocrats (1979), Translations (1980) and Dancing at Lughnasa (1990). He has done so with plays which remain resolutely set (for the most part) in the remoteness of County Donegal, in the fictional locale of Ballybeg (from the Gaelic baile beag or “small town”).
In The Freedom of the City (1975) and Volunteers (1977) Brian Friel closely engaged with key political developments in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s (Bloody Sunday, internment). The two plays I wish to examine in this chapter - 1977's Living Quarters and 1979's Aristocrats - show a complex repositioning. On the one hand, there is a distancing and a greater mediation in terms of direct representation of the politics of Ireland north and south. This is primarily achieved through a more studied deployment of the language of world culture - such as the music of Chopin, which is so central to the dramaturgy of Aristocrats - and in particular an engagement with a number of classic playwrights from the world repertoire.
Living Quarters is acknowledged as being “after Hippolytus,” and in dramatizing an Irish version of Phaedra it also brings Racine to mind. The play has eight characters in search of an author-director in ways which recall Pirandello, as well. None of this is new in Friel. The music of Wagner provided an important emotional and structural resource in The Loves of Cass McGuire (1966) and Pirandello was also crucial to its self-conscious theatricality. What is new is the increased dramatic and emotional sophistication of how these materials are handled. This may in part derive from the presence of Chekhov, who is going to feature so prominently in Friel's career from here on. Friel was working at the time on a translation of Three Sisters, which was to be staged in 1981 by Field Day. The presence of three sisters in the households of Living Quarters and Aristocrats marks them as no less versions of Chekhov's plays, fully transplanted from a Russian historical setting to a (then) contemporary Ireland. But if these plays see a more international Friel emerging in his drama, they are no less a return to origins, a going home.
The years 1940 to 2000 saw Ireland undergo an unprecedented and accelerating degree of social change. The impact of modernisation on a traditionally conservative society had a huge influence on initiating the revival of Irish drama which began in the late 1950s and which witnessed the emergence, development and consolidation of an extraordinary level of dramatic achievement by such playwrights as Brian Friel, Tom Murphy, Hugh Leonard, John B. Keane and Thomas Kilroy, a second Renaissance to set beside the first. Many of their plays dramatise that abrupt, rapid and dizzying transformation, as long-established social practices are broken up by the shock of the new. All of these writers have focused on the forces of change operating upon and within Irish society, drawing on a wide variety of forms. John B. Keane has written of the people of Kerry with the intimate knowledge and ambivalence of an insider. Hugh Leonard has trained his mordant satire on the suburbs of South County Dublin and on the troubled conscience beneath the glossy veneer of his suburbanites. Tom Murphy and Thomas Kilroy are the most restless and experimental of contemporary Irish playwrights, diagnosing a stark existential quandary at the heart of the society. But it is Brian Friel who has become increasingly recognised as the pre-eminent living Irish playwright, managing to present an uncompromising vision of the competing claims of tradition and modernity while securing a wide national and international following. The period is marked by an influx of new theatrical ideas, from England, the US and the Continent.
During the 1990s Dublin's Gate Theatre, under the artistic direction of Michael Colgan, staged festivals celebrating the achievement of two of the century's greatest playwrights, Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. Both involved productions of individual plays performed by Irish practitioners or by foreign artists long associated with the playwright, backed up by seminars and debates. But there were differences. One playwright, Beckett, was recently dead when the Festival was first staged in 1991; the other, Pinter, was alive and present throughout, directing on two occasions, acting on one. It is possible to stage all of Beckett's plays on the one occasion; whereas even with a Pinter Festival in 1994 and another in 1997 there still remain key works unperformed and an element of choice colours each occasion. But a third factor relates to Ireland and the decision to stage a festival of a dramatist's work. The staging of all of Beckett’s plays in Dublin by a predominantly Irish theatrical group was a key step in the establishment of Beckett as an Irish (as opposed to an English, French, international or non-specific) playwright; the adoption of Irish accents by Ben Kingsley and Alan Howard in Peter Hall’s revisiting of Waiting for Godot in 1997 may be taken as confirmation of the extent to which Beckett’s Irishness is now universally conceded. But Pinter is English and cannot even claim the Irish ancestors that might have got his plays produced at the Abbey Theatre. Michael Colgan rightly argued that he regarded Pinter as one of the greatest living playwrights and one he wished to honour, by mounting productions of plays of classic status that had rarely received professional Irish productions. But there also has always been, as Colgan would have known, an Irish strand to Pinter’s career to which the Pinter Festivals at the Gate would contribute. There are two aspects to this relationship I wish to consider in this chapter: first, Pinter’s career as an actor in Ireland in the early 1950s with the troupe of Anew McMaster; and second, the impact on his theatrical practice of such Irish playwrights as Beckett and Yeats, and the early Abbey Theatre.
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