Making Theatre in Northern Ireland
Through and Beyond the Troubles
- 272 Pages
Making Theatre in Northern Ireland examines the relationships between theatre and the turbulent political and social context of Northern Ireland since 1969. It explores in detail key theatrical performances which deal directly with this context. The works examined are used as exemplars of wider approaches to theatre-making about Northern Ireland.
The book is aimed at a student readership: it is largely play-text-based, and it contains useful contextualising material such as a chronological list of Northern Ireland’s plays in the modern period, a full bibliography, and a brief chronology.
Students find it hard to obtain any detailed and informed perspective on this key element of the theatre of Ireland and Britain: Northern Ireland’s theatrical traditions are normally discussed only as an adjunct to discussions of Irish theatre more generally, or as so exceptional as to be beyond comparison with others. This book sets out to fill this gap.
This book examines the relationships between theatre and the turbulent political and social context of Northern Ireland since 1969. It explores key theatrical performances which deal directly with this context. The book is aimed at a student readership: it is largely play-text-based, and it contains useful contextualising material.
‘…it is this sense of singularity that Tom Maguire outlines so very well in his excellent and timely book…’ ‘This book gives a sense of the lived experience of the troubles as depicted in a very broad range of dramatic productions where the effects of political strife are performed by characters.’ ‘Tom Maguire, in short, is a class act!’ (The Irish Book Review, Vol. 2, No. 3 Spring 2007) ‘To read Tom Maguire’s illuminating, ground breaking study Making Theatre in Northern Ireland, you begin to understand to what degree Northern Ireland’s writers have been hemmed in and corralled by the Troubles’ ‘…this is a nuanced, resonant study that contains within it enough grounds to meet the very challenges I have tried to put to it; a measure of its calibre is the complexity with which you find yourself arguing back. It brings the discussion of theatre in Northern Ireland to a new level and will prove indispensable for practitioners, students and the public from now on.’ (Irish Theatre Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 32, Autumn 2007) ‘Making Theatre in Northern Ireland is a welcome contribution to the limited literature on theater in Northern Ireland…’ (Comparative Drama, Volume 41, No. 3, P. 379, Fall 2007) ‘…it is a delight to read Tom Maguire’s outstanding new book on theatre and Northern Ireland.’ ‘What results, then, is a book that will be essential reading for scholars of Irish theatre. Crucially, it also offers much to academics working on drama from other societies in conflict. Thus, Maguire has much to contribute to debates on post-devolution Britain.’ ‘…it is an important book that will have wide application and value.’ (New Theatre Quarterly, Volume 24, No. 1, February 2008) ‘… Tom Maguire’s fascinating book…’ (Theatre Research International, Volume 33, No. 1) ‘…an analysis of theatre in Northern Ireland that takes place within specific cultural and political theoretical contexts , and which starts from an understanding of the complexity of identity in the North. I also think Maguire’s work here represents a refreshing challenge to existing and, in my opinion, largely outdated understandings of what it can mean to be a nationalist (or unionist) today in the context of Northern Ireland, and he achieves this challenge primarily through the lens of culture rather than politics, while making clear throughout that the two are always linked.’ ‘…this is significant and very welcome contribution to the field of Irish theatre criticism. It is beautifully produced and edited, and is written with a clarity often missing from contemporary studies…’ (Performance Paradigm 3, May 2007)
Contents: Introduction; Arguing for a distinctive treatment of Northern Irish theatre, this chapter locates the study's focus on the discussion of performances as events at the nexus of political, social and cultural contexts over thirty years in Northern Ireland; A Direct Engagement; Beyond the cliched 'Troubles play', two distinct formal traditions of representing the conflict are examined through a detailed exploration of Martin Lynch's The Interrogation of Ambrose Fogarty and Vincent Woods's At the Black Pig's Dyke; Authentic History; Here authenticity is examined in the relationship between personal and collective memory and public history with a focus on Brian Friel's The Freedom of the City and JustUs/DubbbelJoint's Binlids; Failed Origins; The focus of this chapter is the staging of missed opportunities of the past in Martin Lynch's Dockers and Stewart Parker's Northern Star at points where the possibilities for a political resolution to the contemporary conflict were again opened up; Myths and Myth making; This chapter explores how theatre makers have invoked three sources of residual mythology to address Northern Ireland's contemporary reality: Christian in Stewart Parker's Pentecost; Greek in Tom Paulin's The Riot Act; and Irish in Big Telly's Diarmuid and Grainne; Women's Troubles; This chapter addresses the intersections between representations of gender and the Troubles focusing on resistant representations in Charabanc's Somewhere Over the Balcony and Derry Frontline's Inside Out; Let the People Speak; In this chapter, the ways in which the theatre has been used to articulate the concerns of specific communities, traditionally disenfranchised from theatrical representation are examined in Charabanc's Now You're Talkin' and Martin Lynch's The Stone Chair; Staging the Peace; The response to the peace process has been an emphasis on the partial and personal: through the use of story-telling performance in Marie Jones's A Night in November, the implication of the audience in Tim Loane's Caught Red-Handed; and the creation of constituency theatre in works by Gary Mitchell such as As the Beast Sleeps; Conclusion; This chapter discusses the issues of perspective and balance in the representation of conflict and the phases in the development of stage representations of the Troubles over the period; Playography; Brief Chronology; Bibliography.