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Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory

Transitions and Transformations


Marguerite Corporaal, Christopher Cusack and Ruud van den Beuken

Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory presents the latest research from Irish studies scholars across a variety of disciplines, including history, literature, theatre, photography and folklore, and generates new and challenging insights into the dynamics of cultural remembrance in Irish society. Featuring contributions by leading researchers in the field such as Guy Beiner, Graham Dawson and Emilie Pine, this collection demonstrates how the examination of Irish cultural legacies can illuminate our understanding of processes of identity formation, heritage policies, canonization, musealization and the transgenerational and transcultural inflections of the past. Investigating topics such as trauma, contested politics and commemorative practices, and exploring recent theoretical developments, the volume offers an interdisciplinary overview of the recent cross-fertilization between memory studies and Irish studies.
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9 The Witness and the Audience: Mary Raftery’s No Escape (2010) (Emilie Pine)


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9 The Witness and the Audience: Mary Raftery’s No Escape (2010)

Documentary theatre ‘is created from a specific body of archived material: interviews, documents, hearings, records, video, film, photographs, etc’.1 Documentary is not a new dramatic form but it has experienced a recent resurgence perhaps due to the testimonial turn, or what Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub have called the ‘era of testimony’, which itself broadly constitutes an attempt, through giving testimony, to represent some of the ethical crises of recent decades.2 In particular, documentary theatre has tended to represent the voices and perspectives of the oppressed other who has suffered violence, such as we see in the Tricyle theatre’s cycle of ‘tribunal’ plays, for example The Colour of Justice (Richard Norton Taylor, 1999), which dramatized the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry on institutional racism. Through the relatively direct form of documentary, which remediates the past, combining factual material with directed performance, audiences are given the opportunity to encounter these perspectives and to engage with experiences beyond their own. Additionally, documentary theatre offers the opportunity to audiences already engaged with these experiences, to see and hear their own perspectives in a format and space that enables them to be shared respectfully and without interruption.3 While documentary ← 189 | 190 → theatre maintains an emphasis on creating and performing an absorbing piece of theatre-art, it is very often equally motivated by a desire for social good or social change. The advantage of using the theatrical form...

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