Irish Playwrights, 1880-1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook

Irish Playwrights, 1880-1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook

Irish Playwrights, 1880-1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook

Irish Playwrights, 1880-1995: A Research and Production Sourcebook

Synopsis

Irish playwrights such as Sean O'Casey, George Bernard Shaw, and John Millington Synge have made enormous contributions to world drama. This reference provides detailed entries for 32 Irish playwrights active from 1880 to 1995. Each entry includes a biographical sketch, a summary of productions, a critical assessment of the dramatist's work, and extensive bibliographical information. The volume concludes with a selected, general bibliography.

Excerpt

Irish dramatists have been writing plays for hundreds of years. These dramatists include such distinguished theatrical notables as William Congreve, George Farquhar, R. B. Sheridan, and, later, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. Irish drama, however, is a phenomenon of this century, rooted in large part in the political and social ferment out of which Ireland as an independent nation emerged. Although the absence of theatrical opportunities made émigrés and exiles of Congreve, Farquhar, Wilde, Shaw, and the others, their rhetorical brilliance separated them from their English contemporaries and betrayed their Irish origins. That rhetorical brilliance would surface in the work of later Irish playwrights and would become one of the hallmarks of an indigenous Irish drama.

The creation of Irish drama is primarily the story of the Abbey from its origins in 1897 as the Irish Literary Theatre, founded by Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and William Butler Yeats, to its present status as Ireland's national theater. Its existence and its role have, over the years, been challenged and critiqued. Theaters like the Gate in Dublin rejected the insistent Irishness of the Abbey and sought to introduce Irish audiences to the drama of continental Europe. There was also a lively theatrical tradition in Ulster, although it was, in the main, derivative. Notwithstanding such challenges, the Abbey has never been displaced from its central position in the emergence of a distinct and distinguished Irish drama.

Its history has been variously recounted. When read in sequence, Ernest Boyd 's The Contemporary Drama of Ireland (1918), Andrew Malone's The Irish Drama: 1896-1928 (originally published in 1929), Dawson Byrne's The Story of Ireland's National Theatre (1929), Peter Kavanagh's The Story of the Abbey Theatre (1950), Lennox Robinson's Ireland's Abbey Theatre: A History 1899-1951 (1951), Gerard Fay's The Abbey Theatre: Cradle of Genius (1958) . . .

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