Transitions and Transformations
Edited By Marguerite Corporaal, Christopher Cusack and Ruud van den Beuken
1 Remembering the Drapier and King Dan: The Sectarian Legacies of Swift and O’Connell in Edward Longford’s Yahoo (1933) and Ascendancy (1935) (Ruud Van Den Beuken)
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RUUD VAN DEN BEUKEN
1 Remembering the Drapier and King Dan: The Sectarian Legacies of Swift and O’Connell in Edward Longford’s Yahoo (1933) and Ascendancy (1935)
During the Earl of Longford’s six-year tenure as chairman of the Dublin Gate Theatre’s board of directors, Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir not only benefited from his financial generosity, which had warded off the Gate’s impending bankruptcy in 1930 and kept the budding avant-garde playhouse afloat during the subsequent decade, but also produced several plays that the Earl had written, translated or adapted to the stage. The latter category includes his rendition of Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire thriller Carmilla (1932), with a cast featuring Cyril Cusack and Coralie Carmichael, while Edwards and MacLiammóir themselves played the roles of Aigisthos and Orestes respectively in Longford’s translation of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon (1933). No less importantly, the Gate’s founders also produced three original plays by the Earl of Longford, two of which engage with the contested legacies of self-professed Irish champions of liberty: Yahoo (1933), a historical play about Jonathan Swift that addresses the Dean’s attempts to transcend religious divides in his vision of Irish nationhood, and Ascendancy (1935), which depicts the religious tensions that intensified in the wake of Daniel O’Connell’s campaign for Catholic Emancipation.
Although the historical settings of these plays might seem incongruous, ranging from the early eighteenth to the early nineteenth century, with yet another century separating Longford’s contemporary audiences from the...
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