Tom Murphy shot to fame with the London production of A Whistle in the Dark in 1961, establishing him as the outstanding Irish playwright of his generation. The international success of DruidMurphy, the 2012-13 staging of three of his major plays by the Druid Theatre Company, served to underline his continuing appeal and importance. This is the first full scale academic study devoted to his theatre, providing an overview of all his work, with a detailed reading of his most significant texts. His powerful and searchingly honest engagement with Irish history and society is reflected in the violent Whistle in the Dark, the epic Famine (1968), the often hilarious Conversations on a Homecoming (1985) and the darkly Chekhovian The House (2000). Folklore and myth figure more prominently in the spiritual drama of The Sanctuary Lamp (1975), the Faustian Gigli Concert (1983) and the women's stories of Bailegangaire (1985). The range and reach of Murphy's theatre is demonstrated in this informed reading, supported by key interviews with the playwright himself and his most important theatrical and critical interpreters.
The first comprehensive study of August Wilson's drama introduces the major themes and motifs that unite Wilson's ten-play cycle about African American life in each decade of the twentieth century. Framed by Wilson's life experiences and informed by his extensive interviews, this book provides fresh, coherent, detailed readings of each play, well-situated in the extant scholarship. It also provides an overview of the cycle as a whole, demonstrating how it comprises a compelling interrogation of American culture and historiography. Keenly aware of the musical paradigms informing Wilson's dramatic technique, Nadel shows how jazz and, particularly, the blues provide the structural mechanisms that allow Wilson to examine alternative notions of time, property, and law. Wilson's improvisational logics become crucial to expressing his notions of black identity and resituating the relationship of literal to figurative in the African American community. The final two chapters include contributions by scholars Harry J. Elam, Jr. and Donald E. Pease
The spellbinding premiere of The Weir at the Royal Court in 1997 was the first of many works to bring Conor McPherson to the attention of the theatre-going public. Acclaimed plays followed, including Shining City, The Seafarer, The Night Alive and Girl from the North Country, garnering international acclaim and being regularly produced around the globe. McPherson has also had significant successes as a theatre director, film director and screenwriter, most notably, with his award-winning screenplay for I Went Down. This companion offers a detailed and engaging critical analysis of the plays and films of Conor McPherson. It considers issues of gender and class disparity, violence and wealth in the cultural and political contexts in which the work is written and performed, as well as the inclusion of song, sound, the supernatural, religious and pagan festive sensibilities through which initial genre perceptions are nudged elsewhere, towards the unconscious and ineffable. Supplemented by a number of contributed critical and performance perspectives, including an interview with Conor McPherson, this is a book to be read by theatre audiences, performance-makers and students who wish to explore, contextualize and situate McPherson's provocative, exquisite and generation-defining writings and performances.
Drawing on major new archival discoveries and recent research, Patrick Lonergan presents an innovative account of Irish drama and theatre, spanning the past seventy years. Rather than offering a linear narrative, the volume traces key themes to illustrate the relationship between theatre and changes in society. In considering internationalization, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Celtic Tiger period, feminism, and the changing status of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Lonergan asserts the power of theatre to act as an agent of change and uncovers the contribution of individual artists, plays and productions in challenging societal norms. Irish Drama and Theatre since 1950 provides a wide-ranging account of major developments, combined with case studies of the premiere or revival of major plays, the establishment of new companies and the influence of international work and artists, including Tennessee Williams, Chekhov and Brecht. While bringing to the fore some of the untold stories and overlooked playwrights following the declaration of the Irish Republic, Lonergan weaves into his account the many Irish theatre-makers who have achieved international prominence in the period: Samuel Beckett, Siobhán McKenna and Brendan Behan in the 1950s, continuing with Brian Friel and Tom Murphy, and concluding with the playwrights who emerged in the late 1990s, including Martin McDonagh, Enda Walsh, Conor McPherson, Marie Jones and Marina Carr. The contribution of major Irish companies to world theatre is also examined, including both the Abbey and Gate theatres, as well as Druid, Field Day and Charabanc. Through its engaging analysis of seventy years of Irish theatre, this volume charts the acts of gradual but revolutionary change that are the story of Irish theatre and drama and of its social and cultural contexts.