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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.
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VI. Transnational Ireland on Stage: America to Middle East in Three Texts


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VI. Transnational Ireland on Stage: America to Middle East in Three Texts

Introduction: Between the Local and the Global on the Irish Stage

Historically, the comprehensive Anglicization of Ireland from the early nineteenth century, and the geopolitical location of Ireland in Europe, have laid the foundations for more Irish participation on the world stage. The rapid globalization process, however, has not fully removed the frustration buried deep in the Irish psyche about the country still being in partition, but it has encouraged many contemporary playwrights to express concerns regarding other areas that are just as troubled as the state of their country, despite the fact that the Northern Ireland issue is not yet fully resolved.

It is noteworthy that globalization, as the continuation of nineteenth- and twentieth-century imperialism in a new form, not only carries forward the exercise of colonial incursion but facilitates the oppressively homogenizing effects on the less advantaged Other. This is partly due to the rise of critical theory to “productively complicate the nationalist paradigm” by embarking on transnationalism since the 1970s (Jay 1). One consequence of this was to prompt reevaluations of existing cultural productions, thus initiating cross-cultural and interethnic dialogues that had usually been absent in colonial and Eurocentric establishments, and prompting the public to envisage the Other across both real and imagined borders. Even more significantly, the meaning of a text starts to shift if it is studied in an international context, and this...

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