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Irish Women Playwrights 1900-1939

Gender and Violence on Stage


Cathy Leeney

Irish Women Playwrights 1900-1939 is the first book to examine the plays of five fascinating and creative women, placing their work for theatre in co-relation to suggest a parallel tradition that reframes the development of Irish theatre into the present day.
How these playwrights dramatize violence and its impacts in political, social, and personal life is a central concern of this book. Augusta Gregory, Eva Gore-Booth, Dorothy Macardle, Mary Manning, and Teresa Deevy re-model theatrical form, re-structuring action and narrative, and exploring closure as a way of disrupting audience expectation. Their plays create stage spaces and images that expose relationships of power and authority, and invite the audience to see the performance not as illusion, but as framed by the conventions and limits of theatrical representation.
Irish Women Playwrights 1900-1939 is suitable for courses in Irish theatre, women in theatre, gender and performance, dramaturgy, and Irish drama in the twentieth century as well as for those interested in women’s work in theatre and in Irish theatre in the twentieth century.


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Chapter 3: Dorothy Macardle: Revolution and Consolidation: Betwixt and Between / 97


ChAPTeR 3 Dorothy Macardle (1889–1958) Revolution and Consolidation: Betwixt and Between Dorothy Macardle is buried in St. Fintan’s Cemetery, near Howth Hill, overlook- ing Dublin Bay from the north. Her gravestone is simple; there is no reference to religion, but her life’s work is outlined in the words ‘Historian, Novelist, Lecturer’ and, strikingly, in the final inscription, ‘She fought for freedom.’ Her work for the theatre has been neglected in favour of her reputation as historian of the founding of the new state in The Irish Republic (1937), a comprehensive account written very much from the Republican and de Valerian viewpoint. During her life Macardle earned her living as a teacher and professional writer of novels, short stories, history, and plays; she was also a journalist, and film and the- atre reviewer for the Irish Press newspaper. However, from her school days Macardle was alert to the medium of theatre, its collaborative nature, and its ability both to reflect society, and to offer reflection on it. In Ireland particularly, she saw theatre as undeniably linked with the story of the nation. The theatre, communal in its origins and in its appeal, remains sensitive to communal moods and the mind of the dramatist is a kind of weather-vane. […] Irish drama, even more than that of most countries, has been conditioned by the nation’s history.1 So Macardle wrote in the nineteen-thirties, as she identified a new wave of theatrical energy at the Dublin Gate Theatre. However, she had begun her work...

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