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Performing Irishness

Irish Drama on the Galician Stage

Elisa Serra Porteiro

Performing Irishness analyses the presence and impact of Irish drama in Galicia, a minorised cultural context where Ireland has historically been viewed as a recognisable, often inspirational, «other». Through her exploration of the ways in which translation choices interweave with theatre practice, the author reveals context and on-the-spot decisions as crucial elements in the adaptation and staging of the plays. This study traces the multiplicity of factors that determined the plays’ path from one culture to the other by means of interviews with theatre practitioners and a wealth of unpublished documents around the translation and production processes, resulting from extensive archival research. The voices behind the scenes provide us with a viewpoint that goes beyond the texts to generate a pluridimensional map of how Irish drama has travelled not only to Galicia but also to – and through – other Iberian stages.

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CHAPTER 5 Taming Irishness: Martin McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy in Galicia


Despite the contested Irish status of the author and his work, the incorporation of Martin McDonagh’s plays into the Galician theatre system is unequivocally rooted in the history of representations of Irishness on the Galician stage. These projects emerged in a context of practice that differs, in many ways, from that of previous moment. Yet, the productions discussed below illustrate the continuity in the way in which Irish drama is mediated by Galician theatre practitioners in order to meet target system needs and expectations. Translations of the plays that constitute McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy (The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West) by Avelino González were staged in Galicia by two different professional companies: Teatro do Atlántico (A raíña da beleza de Leenane, 2006) and Producións Excéntricas (Un cranio furado in 2010, and Oeste solitario in 2011). As well as being informed by contextual elements, those approaches to McDonagh exemplify the distinctive artistic vision of the two companies and their trajectories.

The translations considered in this chapter were created specifically for the stage in close collaboration with the directors, actors and other stakeholders in an incorporation process markedly informed by performative considerations. The texts remain unpublished and, therefore, the following sections map the incorporation process of the trilogy and its positioning ←177 | 178→within the Galician theatre system through the analysis of rehearsal scripts, interim target language versions, paratextual and extratextual materials and, crucially, interviews with practitioners. In this...

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