Show Less
Restricted access

Contemporary Irish Theatre

Transnational Practices


Kao Wei H.

This monograph is one of the first to examine a collection of Irish plays from a transnational perspective in today’s era of globalization. The works dealt with in this study dramatize how foreign cultures are integrated into contemporary Ireland. In addition, they focus on the experiences of immigrants and marginalized people living on the fringes of Irish society. The aim of this book is therefore two-fold: first, it highlights how specific theatrical productions reflect the global factors at work in modern Ireland; second, it seeks to document how Irish dramatists exert a profound impact on theatre practitioners from non-English speaking countries and enrich their stage aesthetics. Accordingly, the works discussed in this book have not been authored by Irish playwrights only. They are set in the Middle East, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, the UK, and the USA. This monograph concentrates both on canonical and established playwrights, such as Dion Boucicault, Edward Harrigan, Eugene O’Neill, Sean O’Casey, Brendan Behan, Samuel Beckett, Frank McGuinness, Sebastian Barry, Tom Murphy, Marina Carr, and on lesser-known writers, including Jimmy Murphy, Dolores Walshe, Damian Smyth, Colin Teevan, among others.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

I. When Incest Is Not A Taboo: Desire and the Land in Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms and Marina Carr’s On Raftery’s Hill


← 26 | 27 →

I. When Incest Is Not A Taboo: Desire and the Land in Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms and Marina Carr’s On Raftery’s Hill

The American playwright Eugene O’Neill, who had an Irish-born father, can be studied with profit alongside Marina Carr, a contemporary Irish woman dramatist, in that both of them present not only a distinct Irish heritage in their works but also a shared interest in the theme of incest in Greek tragedies and mythology. Although their plays do not possess the grand scale of Phaedra, Oedipus, or Electra, all of which touch on incestuous desire, O’Neill and Carr both dramatize this lust respectively in Desire Under the Elms (1924) and On Raftery’s Hill (2000).1 The difference is that the two playwrights, across decades and of different genders, challenge this taboo by critically examining the puritanical ethos to which their protagonists are subject, particularly in relation to the land. Specifically, O’Neill and Carr, to differing degrees, penetrate the forbidden desires of their characters in distress, reassessing how human complexities are conditioned by a mixture of external forces, in an attempt to ignite a new understanding of taboos.2

By adapting Greek tragedies and featuring the lust of women characters in New England and the Irish midlands, in a religious setting, the two playwrights have, to differing degrees, questioned the Freudian qualification of the Oedipus and Electra complexes, theatrically liberating human desires from puritanical, patriarchal, and/or colonial conditions. Rather than reinforcing...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.