Theatres of the Troubles
Theatre, Resistance and Liberation in Ireland
The first book to document grass roots popular theatres which developed from within the working class Republican and Loyalist communities of Belfast and Derry during the latest phase of the four hundred year conflict between Ireland and Britain. Theatres of the Troubles explores the history of one of the most important periods of political theatre activity in post-war Europe.
This significant study seeks to convey how the moment to moment unfolding of the conflict determined organisation, ‘texts’, performance contexts and reception, and how the theatres operated within Republican and Loyalist communities. All chapters draw upon previously unpublished primary sources, including texts, interviews and letters, shared workshops and witnessed performance.
In examining not only how these theatres related to each other, but also their relationship to European traditions of radical theatre and to the liberation models which were developing in neo- and post-colonial contexts in the South, Theatres of the Troubles represents a key addition to our understanding of the critical relationship between historical conditions and the development of radical theatre forms.
Contents: Acknowledgements; Chronology of Key Events; Glossary of Terms; 1. Introduction; 2. The Historical Context; 3. 'Gentle Fury': Father Des and the People's Theatre; 4. 'At the Heart of the Struggle': the plays of Belfast Community Theatre; 5. 'From Pedagogy of the Oppressed to Theatre of the Oppressed': the H Block Theatres; 6. Derry Frontline: a template for liberation; 7. Staging the Peace (1) Dubbeljoint at Amharclann na Carraige; 8. Staging the Peace (2) the plays of Laurence McKeown and Brian Campbell; 9. 'Not a Profession but a Movement': politics, theatre and Republicanism; 10. 'Only Catholics Combine': Loyalism and theatre; 11. Last Words; Bibliography.
‘...a valuable document about grassroots, working-class community theatre in Northern Ireland.’
‘...methodologically sound and historically extremely interesting.’ (The Journal of Theatre Research International, Sruti Bala, Volume 35/1 – 2010)
‘It is of course particularly difficult to recapture performances by community theatres.’
‘McDonnell’s book is a superb example of how such difficulties can be overcome.’
‘One of the text’s most appealing characteristics is the constant sense that McDonnell is deeply engaged with the material he is researching: he is himself an important presence in the book.’ (Contemporary Theatre Review, Volume 19(4), 2009, Patrick Lonergan)
‘Of vital importance for students and researchers interested in the politics of theatre in the UK and Ireland… a significant contribution to the body of scholarship….compelling...a timely book, providing a provocative perspective on political theatre during the first decade of the new century as well as drawing attention to a neglected and important period of theatre history’. (New Theatre Quarterly, 2010, Jenny Hughes)
‘McDonnell’s excellent book…. opening up a fascinating terrain for future scholars… stands as a testament to the courage of communities making work in the face of political crisis, and equally speaks to the methodological challenges of thinking through the tensions and contradictions in the work of living theatre’.
‘McDonnell [...] offers an extremely useful resource for scholars, drawing from previously unused archival sources’ (The Drama Review, Volume 56, No 2, Summer 2012, Aoife Monks)
Bill McDonnell is Senior Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Sheffield. He has worked both as an actor and writer and was founder and co-director of Theatreworks, Sheffield. He is co-author of Social Impact in UK Theatre (with Dominic Shellard, Arts Council England, 2006).
Theatres of the Troubles - Theatre, Resistance and Liberation in Ireland - Hardback cover
New Titles List
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- Theatres of the Troubles - Theatre, Resistance and Liberation in Ireland
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