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Contemporary Irish Theatre

Transnational Practices

Series:

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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VIII. Voices from Two Theatrical Others: Labor Issues in the Theatres of Ireland and Taiwan

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VIII. Voices from Two Theatrical Others: Labor Issues in the Theatres of Ireland and Taiwan

Introduction

At first appearance, the working classes of Ireland and Taiwan do not appear to have much in common, living on opposite sides of the world and speaking unrelated languages. Further, the two countries have never established standard diplomatic relations or had much cultural exchange. The leaders of their labor unions do not engage in reciprocal visits, nor do they support each other on relevant issues. Nevertheless, the working classes of the two countries have affected each other at a distance, long before the term “globalization” arose as the focal point of attention toward the end of the twentieth century and transformed social, economic, and cultural situations worldwide. Specifically, Ireland has borne the unpleasant consequences of Taiwan, and other Asian countries, dumping their low-priced and machine-made products on other countries since the 1960s. The consequences, interestingly, are illustrated in Frank McGuinness’s 1982 play, The Factory Girls, which portrays Irish women workers’ failure to maintain their production of hand-made shirts after machinery has taken the place of human labor: “do you know what a flooded market means? Shirts selling for half nothing from Korea and Taiwan” (34).1 This mention of Taiwan, though brief, suggests that Taiwan should not be excused for its role in causing rising unemployment in Ireland in the mid-twentieth century, although Ireland may also have benefited from transforming its economy from reliance on labor-intensive...

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