The Theatre of Nation: Irish Drama and Cultural Nationalism, 1890-1916

The Theatre of Nation: Irish Drama and Cultural Nationalism, 1890-1916

The Theatre of Nation: Irish Drama and Cultural Nationalism, 1890-1916

The Theatre of Nation: Irish Drama and Cultural Nationalism, 1890-1916

Synopsis

'Subtly argued and impressively researched... a central contribution' -Irish Times'The contextualization of theatre is a tour de force' -Professor Mary King, London University'Brilliant' -Professor Roy Foster, Oxford University'Levitas has a fine sense of political and social context; and he writes like an angel' -Professor Norman Vance, Sussex UniversityThe Theatre of Nation is a study of the development of the theatre movement and its relationship to political change in Ireland during the pre-revolutionary period. Ben Levitas traces the connections between Irish drama and Irish politics, and concludes that Ireland's theatre had a pivotal role to play in the controversies of its time and in the coming revolution.

Excerpt

What role did the theatre of the Irish literary revival play in the politics of identity so avidly debated in pre-revolutionary Ireland? Conversely, how far did that debate influence the development of the theatre? This book is an examination of the vexed dialectic of such questions through an integrated study of the nationalist debate 1890–1916. In part it was the very necessity of forcing together two areas of apparently distinct concern that first attracted me to tackle the material at issue. The spheres of political history and literary examination are too often estranged in existing scholarship, but their combination is essential to this subject. Tackling the political debates and the controversial drama of this unusually creative era, the theatre is here revealed as a focal point for the culturally charged controversies of the period.

Those controversies are also revealed as far from static, and far from limited to the most obvious issue of Irish independence. Concerns about class, race, gender, regional and generational difference were no less central during what was recognized as a period of cultural flux. Nor were such considerations limited to Ireland, but extended to Ireland's situation in the Empire and, particularly, to its European status. It is in this reaction to European as well as imperial modernity that the theatre's role in inspiring insurrectionary logics is concluded.

To plot the course of this discourse through the turns and twists of its expression, from the disgrace of Parnell to the crisis of The Playboy 'riots' and the denouement of the Easter Rising, requires a diverse range of materials. The Abbey Theatre and its directors, W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and J. M. Synge performed a central part in the processes outlined here, but beyond the Abbey were the equally crucial popular, propagandist, and the regional theatres. The theatre movement is discussed here in its splendid variety, drawing upon a much wider array of dramatic talent than is allowed for by the existing canon. Such talent was evident in the plays of the period, in performances, in criticism both public and private, and in the organizational skill of impresarios. The cultural and political dispute which surrounded and included this movement likewise found its form through newspapers, personal correspondence, through private and public debate. This book employs the full range of media, often considering new material and familiar text in . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.