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The Feast of Famine

The Plays of Frank McGuinness

Eamonn Jordan

Here for the first time is a major critical evaluation of the award-winning Northern Irish playwright Frank McGuinness, best known for the landmark plays Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme and Someone Who'll Watch Over Me. McGuinness's plays have been performed throughout the world and his adaptations of Ibsen and Chekhov in particular have been acclaimed internationally. Memory, history, myth, identity and performance are recurring themes in McGuinness's drama. His work is always formally inventive, demanding, generous and rigorously aggressive in a way that makes his theatre a confrontational, salient and enlightening experience. The Feast of Famine is a precise and provocative frame within which to place the work. The title captures the confluence of contradictory forces: the celebratory and communal notions of festivity and the destructive intensity of famine. This study ultimately places these dynamic energies within a carnivalesque consciousness which is transgressive and highly theatrical.
Contents: Introduction; The Early Plays: Discoveries; Observe the Sons of Ulster: Legacy and Commemoration; Innocence: The Political Imagination; Carthaginians: Memory Recovered; Translations: Other Voices; Mary and Lizzie: A Lost History; The Bread Man: Isolation and Desire; Someone Who'll Watch Over Me: Culture and Fantasy.