Throughout the twentieth century, Irish theatre was fully engaged with the pressing questions of independence - how to achieve it, and how the gap between what was desired and what was settled for might be addressed.
In Because We Are Poor, Victor Merriman reads Ireland's postcoloniality as a state of critical desire for a postponed project of decolonization in Independent Ireland. He develops insights from Awam Amkpa, Luke Gibbons, Peadar Kirby, Joe Lee, David Lloyd and others to argue that Irish theatre is staged in a neo-colonial social order, dominated by economic analyses and public policies designed to secure the position of indigenous elites, usually at the expense of the majority of Irish people.
Theatre emerges as a key site in which the contradictions arising from frustrated but enduring desires are embodied, enacted and enabled. During the 1990s, the state's monopoly on public discourse in Independent Ireland comes under severe pressure, with hitherto marginal concerns appropriating public space and demanding to be heard. Irish theatre responds to the range and diversity of those voices, to the extent that the Review of Theatre in Ireland (1995-1996) envisages a National Theatre in dialogue with a Theatre of the Nation.
The expanded theatrical activity of the 1990s is the focus of Because We Are Poor, and the author's intimate involvement in that moment, as scholar, practitioner, and policy-maker makes the analysis offered here especially compelling. This book brings together concerns which the author has worked to articulate in Irish theatre criticism.
It critiques contemporary appropriations of the postcolonial, or post-colonial, among scholars of Irish drama, and proposes a nuanced postcolonial critical practice, challenging critical vocabularies applied to Irish drama. The book addresses the role, crises and potential of Irish theatre, as the cultural and political consequences of globalization manifest themselves.