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Community Politics and the Peace Process in Contemporary Northern Irish Drama

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Eva Urban

This book examines theatre within the context of the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process, with reference to a wide variety of plays, theatre productions and community engagements within and across communities. The author clarifies both the nature of the social and political vision of a number of major contemporary Northern Irish dramatists and the manner in which this vision is embodied in text and in performance. The book identifies and celebrates a tradition of playwrights and drama practitioners who, to this day, challenge and question all Northern Irish ideologies and propose alternative paths. The author’s analysis of a selection of Northern Irish plays, written and produced over the course of the last thirty years or so, illustrates the great variety of approaches to ideology in Northern Irish drama, while revealing a common approach to staging the conflict and the peace process, with a distinct emphasis on utopian performatives and the possibility of positive change.

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Chapter 6 Foucault’s Looking Glass and Tongues of Flames: Pentecost, After Easter, Ourselves Alone, ‘The Wedding Community Play’, Massive 225

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Chapter 6 Foucault’s Looking Glass and Tongues of Flames: Pentecost, After Easter, Ourselves Alone, ‘The Wedding Community Play’, Massive In his discussion of utopian space, Michel Foucault applies the symbol of ‘the mirror’ to the theatrical stage. In the mirror, the viewer is simulta- neously absent and present: In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent: such is the utopia of the mirror.1 But the mirror exists in its own right, so it is not a utopia or non-place, it is, as Foucault coins it, a ‘heterotopia’, an elsewhere or other-place, and ‘it exerts a sort of counteraction on the position that I occupy. From the standpoint of the mirror I discover my absence from the place where I am, since I see myself over there’. From the standpoint of the ‘over-there’, which is the mirror, a critical, challenging gaze is redirected towards the viewer: Starting from this gaze that is, as it were, directed toward me, from the ground of this virtual space that is on the other side of the glass, I come back toward myself; I begin again to direct my eyes toward myself and to reconstitute myself there where I am. In Stewart Parker’s Pentecost, theatre can be seen to function...

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