Edited By Anne Goarzin
Acts of Justice in Ireland: Social Utopia and Natural Law in a Deconstructive Staging of Tennyson’s The Foresters: Robin Hood and Maid Marian
This chapter ventures beyond conventional frames of theatre and theory by exploring the complex relationship of Tennyson’s 1892 play The Foresters: Robin Hood and Maid Marian with history, and with the Robin Hood legend. It will theorize a deconstructive performance adaptation of this text in Ireland that related the play’s themes to the Irish economic crisis, and that suggested how a revival of modern utopian philosophy might open up positive solutions for Irish society. In this manner the frontier between literature and philosophy that Derrida seeks to displace in the process of writing was dismantled in the process of writing the performance text.
Stephen Knight has described how the elusiveness of the Robin Hood legend lends itself to a variety of narrative constructions and counter-readings. In ‘Which way to the forest? : Directions in Robin Hood Studies’ he muses that ‘perhaps “Robin Hood Studies” itself is a utopian idea, a nowhere and everywhere which is necessarily plural and multidisciplinary’, and that ‘perhaps, as in most forests there is no single experience, no coherent plot of the outlaw terrain’.1 In a reference to Eric Hobsbawm’s history of archetypal bandits, Knight locates Robin Hood within the framework of other popular outlaws as ‘a representative of true law for the sake of which it is right to break current and bad law’.2 This concept of ‘current and ← 109 | 110 → bad law’ could also be defined as established ‘positive law’ against which the radical rebel law enacted by noble outlaw literary...
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