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Irish Theatre Environments


Lisa FitzGerald

What role does nature play in the cultural world of the theatre? Is the auditorium not a natural environment, and how can theatre and nature aesthetics co-exist in the productive expression of performance? Re-Place: Irish Theatre Environments proposes a new way of thinking about Irish theatre: one that challenges established boundaries between nature and culture and argues for theatre performances to be seen as conceptual ecological environments. Broadening the scope of theatre environments to encompass radiophonic and digital spaces, Re-Place is a timely interrogation of how we understand performance history. This book examines the work, both as text and in production, of three canonical Irish playwrights, J. M. Synge, Samuel Beckett and Brian Friel, and looks at how theatre documentation can further the idea of a natural performance environment. The questions under consideration extend Irish theatre history into the field of the environmental humanities and draw on new materialist discourse to offer exciting and innovative ways to approach performance.

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Chapter 6: Making a Space for Ecological Thinking


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Making a Space for Ecological Thinking

Now more than ever, nature cannot be separated from culture. — FÉLIX GUATTARI (1989)

When focusing on the body as matter only, various questions arise. At what level does the human end and the non-human begin? Why do we think of our bodies as bounded and what does that viewpoint mean for the gendered body, the body at war, and the starving or decaying body? Harold Fromm argues that the environment ‘runs right through us in endless waves, and if we were to watch ourselves via some ideal microscopic time-lapse video, we would see water, air, food, microbes, toxins entering our body as we shed, excrete, and exhale our processed materials back out’.1 The experience of collective listening evident in Pan Pan’s production of All That Fall, for example, also focuses on the material process of hearing; the biomechanics of the body. Fromm’s idea of the environment moving through us in waves, the microbes and toxins that he talks about but also the sound and radio waves that we experience as humans; we process those waves through our physical bodies just as Maddy Rooney does. The idea of the permeable body that emerges from Alaimo’s trans-corporeality is evident in Maddy’s attempts to find form. What that theatrical performance highlighted was the materiality of the bodily process of listening. Technological advances at the intersection between science and art has enabled many contemporary art...

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