New Critical Perspectives
Edited By Elke D'hoker, Raphaël Ingelbien and Hedwig Schwall
Caoilfhionn Ní Bheacháin
‘The seeds beneath the snow’: Resignation and Resistance in Teresa Deevy’s Wife to James Whelan This chapter will explore female agency and recalcitrance in one of Teresa Deevy’s lesser known plays, Wife to James Whelan. Teresa Deevy submitted this three-act play to the Abbey Theatre in 1942 and it was immediately rejected by Ernest Blythe. This refusal marked the end of Deevy’s close rela- tionship with the National Theatre Society.1 Despite her status as an Abbey playwright and later as a dramatist for the national radio station, most of Deevy’s plays are out of print and despite some recent attention she is little known outside of specialist circles.2 The erasure of female dramatists from the mainstream literary canon and the marginalisation of women’s cultural production in general have been commented on and challenged in recent years (Murray 1995; Kelleher 2001; Trotter 2000). Wife to James Whelan itself was published for the first time in the Irish University Review in 1995. It is a drama that is concerned with class, gender and power relationships in a small rural community in Munster. The play follows the fortunes of a group of friends over an eight-year period. In Act I of Wife to James Whelan, Deevy introduces a group of friends aged between late teens and early thirties. The two key protagonists, James Whelan and Nan Bowers, are both wilful and independently-minded 1 During the 1930s, Deevy had six plays produced by the Abbey Theatre. 2 Apart from occasional chapters in general edited...
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