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From Stage to Page

Critical Reception of Irish Plays in the London Theatre, 1925–1996

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Peter James Harris

In December 1921 the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, which led to the creation of the Irish Free State and the partition of Ireland the following year. The consequences of that attempt to reconcile the conflicting demands of republicans and unionists alike have dictated the course of Anglo-Irish relations ever since. This book explores how the reception of Irish plays staged in theatres in London’s West End serves as a barometer not only of the state of relations between Great Britain and Ireland, but also of the health of the British and Irish theatres respectively.
For each of the eight decades following Irish Independence a representative production is set in the context of Anglo-Irish relations in the period and developments in the theatre of the day. The first-night criticism of each production is analysed in the light of its political and artistic context as well as the editorial policy of the publication for which a given critic is writing.
The author argues that the relationship between context and criticism is not simply one of cause and effect but, rather, the result of the interplay of a number of cultural, historical, political, artistic and personal factors.

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Acknowledgements ix

Extract

Acknowledgements From the time of its original conception this study has been ten years in the making. Along the way many people have collaborated either directly or indirectly. The bulk of the research itself was carried out during a five-month sabbatical in 2005/6 at the Department of Drama and Theatre Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London. I am deeply grateful to Professor Richard Allen Cave, not only for the initial invitation to occupy the post of Visiting Research Fellow, but also for his constant encouragement and the gesture of faith involved in publishing my preliminary results. That period of research was made possible by a grant from FAPESP (The São Paulo State Research Support Foundation), and also by the generosity of my colleagues in the English Area of the Modern Languages Department, IBILCE, UNESP (The State University of São Paulo), especially Álvaro Luiz Hattnher, Carla Alexandra Ferreira and Giséle Manganelli Fernandes, who covered my classes whilst I was away. Thanks are also due to my col- league Nelson Luís Ramos, who substituted for me as Head of Department during that period. The research itself was much facilitated by the ef ficient assistance of staf f at the Royal Holloway libraries, the British Library, British Library Newspapers at Colindale, and the Theatre Museum Library at Blythe House. I was immensely privileged to have the company of my son Andrew (to whom this study is dedicated) for much of the time I was in the UK, and we...

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