Download Contemporary Irish Drama & Cultural Identity by Margaret Llewellyn-Jones PDF

By Margaret Llewellyn-Jones

Exploring the works of Brian Friel, Frank McGuinness, Tom Murphy, and Thomas Kilroy, the writer offers an creation at the ancient context of Irish tradition, with specific recognition being paid to the works played within the Nineties.

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Although the women’s dancing bodies have a quality of ritual, which mediates between harsh reality and lost dreams, Father Jack’s role has most significance for postcolonial readings, as epitomized in the almost identical opening and closing tableaux. In the first, Jack has a dazzling British Army chaplain’s uniform, so resplendent ‘he looks almost comic opera,’ Gerry (the absent father) has a tricorn hat with plumage. These are soiled and damaged in the final tableau, where the tatty uniform seems too large for Jack, who now carries the bedraggled hat.

Its popularity in Ireland, England, America and elsewhere suggests it is more accessible – and perhaps easier to repeat – than The Great Hunger, which is more consistently unconventional in its physicality. First performed in the Abbey in 1990, then in London’s National Theatre, Dancing at Lughnasa, directed by Patrick Mason, toured between two spells in London’s West End, winning an Olivier Award, and transferred to America on Broadway. Frank McGuinness’ film adaptation has also been screened by British TV and is available on video.

Often shot from a low angle, ironically riding the white (grey) horse of chivalry, Townsend is a guilty figure torn between his own need for survival, the blindness of his absentee master and sometimes sneaking sympathy for the peasants – victims of hunger and colonial brutality, including his own. Escaping a series of attacks, he is killed once he stops making concessions, although not before an abortive rape attempt upon Mary Dolan, who becomes his servant after her parent’s eviction. As a colonising Englishman, his threatened and damaged body shows the dangers of border-crossing or falling between the limits of power and the needs of humanity.

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