Beyond Realism

Experimental and Unconventional Irish Drama since the Revival


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When W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory set out in 1897 to create an Irish theatre, they expressed their openness to dramatic experimentation. However, the Abbey Theatre that was their legacy increasingly came to resist non-traditional dramaturgy. Ranging over a period of more than a century, the essays in Beyond Realism focus on theatre that has challenged what came to be perceived as the dominance of realism in Irish drama. The contributors demonstrate that, in the first half of the twentieth century, playwrights such as George Fitzmaurice, Sean O’Casey, and Jack B. Yeats produced unconventional theatre that challenged the norm of realism; they show that Irish dramatists since the 1980s, including Thomas Kilroy, Vincent Woods, and Patricia Burke Brogan further broadened the range of theatrical methods. The concluding essays on contemporary works that use multiple techniques, technology, and site-specific locations suggest that non-realistic, highly theatrical approaches are no longer the exception in Irish drama.

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Pages: 225–234
“This volume is a most thought-provoking collection of essays that challenge Irish theater historiographies and point to the opportunities for scholarship on Irish performance and production history. Almost all of the plays discussed in this collection reference the uneasy relationship between experiment and realization and, by doing so, create an alternative, rich canon of unperformed plays.” - Elaine Sisson, Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, Dun Laoghaire, in: breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies, May 4, 2017
Beyond Realism is an ambitious undertaking. Covering more than a century of Irish theater, the collection reveals that there was not necessarily an acceleration of radical steps away from realism as time moved forward. Rather, the book makes the case that formation of an ‘experimental and unconventional’ canon has been there since the beginning. We just needed to have it pointed out to us.” - Elizabeth Mannion, in: New Hibernia Review 19/4 (Winter 2015)
Joan FitzPatrick Dean and José Lanters: Introduction

Christopher Collins: “This World of Inarticulate Power”: J.M. Syngeʼs Riders to the Sea and Magical Realism
Fiona Brennan: “Magic and Menace”: A Re-evaluation of George Fitzmauriceʼs The Magic Glasses
Michael Pierse: Cock-a-Doodle Dandy: OʼCaseyʼs Total Theatre
Alexandra Poulain: The Passion of Harry Heegan: Sean OʼCaseyʼs The Silver Tassie
Ondřej Pilný: Doing Justice to Swift: Denis Johnstonʼs Solution in Diverse Modes
Akiko Satake: Jack B. Yeatsʼ In Sand : An Experiment in the Toy Theatre
Ian R. Walsh: Theatricality in Verse: Donagh MacDonaghʼs Happy as Larry and the Lyric Theatre
Michael A. Moir, Jr: Childe Louis to the Broadcast Tower Came: Louis MacNeice, Radio Drama and the Dismantling of Yeatsian Theatrical Space
Peter OʼRourke: Illuminating the Margins of History: Non-Realist Motivations in the Work of Thomas Kilroy
Mary Ann Ryan: Fear and Loathing in Fermanagh: Apostasy and Ambiguity in Vincent Woodsʼ At the Black Pigʼs Dyke
Charlotte J. Headrick: Through a Womanʼs Eyes: Non-realistic Directing Strategies for Staging Plays by Irish Female Dramatists
Clare Wallace: “The Heel of the Oppressor in a Ferragamo Shoe”: Medium and Message in Improbable Frequency
Charlotte McIvor: Ireland, China, Belgium, Finland: Brokentalkers and the Transnational Connectivities of Post-Celtic Tiger Performance

Notes on Contributors
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