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Irish Theater in America

Essays on Irish Theatrical Diaspora

edited by John P. Harrington

Publication Year: 2009

For more than 150 years, Irish playwrights, beginning with Dion Boucicault, have been celebrated by American audiences. However, Irish theater as represented on the American stage is merely a sampling of the national drama, and the underlying causes of Irish dramatic success in America illuminate the cultural state of both countries at specific historical moments. Irish Theater in America is the first book devoted entirely to the long history of this transatlantic exchange. Born out of the Irish Theatrical Diaspora project, this collection brings together leading American and Irish scholars with established theater critics. The contributors explore the history of Irish theater in America, from Harrigan and Hart to the recent productions of senior Irish playwrights such as Brian Friel and younger writers such as Martin McDonagh and Conor McPherson. Examining the complexity of the relationship between Irish theater and American audiences, this volume goes beyond analyses of plays to include examinations of company dynamics, tours of companies and actors, audience reception, and the production history of individual works.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

Contributors

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pp. vii-ix

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xix

The third annual Irish Theatrical Diaspora conference was held at Glucksman Ireland House at New York University in April 2006 on the theme of "Irish Theater in America." The previous meetings had been devoted to "Irish Theatre on Tour" and to "Irish Theatre in Britain." ...

Title Page

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1. Harrigan, Hart, and Braham: Irish America and the Birth of the American Musical

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pp. 1-18

Most people are familiar with Tin Pan Alley, that kaleidoscopic outpouring of songwriting that crystallized in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Yet few are aware that many of the finest songs in the history of American popular music were already decades old by that time. ...

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2. From Scapegrace to Grásta: Popular Attitudes and Stereotypes in Irish American Drama

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pp. 19-37

In The Politics of Irish Drama, Nicholas Grene argues that Irish drama is outward directed, a commodity for export that is valued for its Irish "otherness," an "otherness" that creates its dramatic energy. He observes that the Irish "otherness" reflects an anxious obsession with...

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3. Ireland Rearranged: Contemporary Irish Drama and the Irish American Stage

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pp. 38-53

At the beginning of the twenty-first century—when so much extraordinary social, political, economic, and cultural change is occurring in the Republic of Ireland—it is imperative that a critical eye be leveled on contemporary Irish drama and performance in an attempt to assess...

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4. Between Two Worlds Boucicault's: The Shaughraun and Its New York Audience

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pp. 54-65

Although he was born in Dublin in 1820, Dion Boucicault was a naturalized American citizen living in New York City when he wrote what many consider to be his finest Irish play, The Shaughraun. The play premiered on 14 September 1874 at Wallack's, then one of the...

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5. Reporting the Stage Irishman: Dion Boucicault in the Irish Press

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pp. 66-77

Playwright Dion Boucicault always claimed to have the heart of a patriot. Yet he ended his life not in Ireland, but as an American citizen, part of the Irish immigrant community in New York. Here his popular Irish plays—The Colleen Bawn, The Shaughraun, and Arrah-Na-Pogue—not only...

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6. Kilkenny, Melbourne, New York: George Tallis and the Irish Theatrical Diaspora

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pp. 78-92

On the 30th of September 1886, when the seventeen-year-old George Tallis from Callan, Co. Kilkenny, accompanied by his sister Charlotte, stepped off the steamship Orizba at Port Melbourne, he would hardly have been aware that he was taking his first steps into theatrical history. ...

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7. The Abbey, Its "Helpers," and the Field of Cultural Production in 1913

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pp. 93-102

On Tuesday, 21 January 1913, the Gregory-Yeats play The Pot of Broth was performed by the Abbey players at a benefit matinee in Chicago. The purpose of the benefit was to raise funds for the Dublin Municipal Gallery of Modern Art: at that stage in the Gallery's history, the Dublin...

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8. Mac Liammóir's The Importance of Being Oscar in America

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pp. 103-113

By 1960, Irish theater had reached another of its perennial crises. The Abbey remained, in Eric Bentley's 1952 formulation, a trick on tourists.1 Two of Dublin’s most promising and innovative companies, the Pike Theater Company and the Globe Theater Company, folded in the late 1950s. ...

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9. Beckett and America

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pp. 114-123

The great Samuel Beckett Centenary of 2006 proved to be truly exhaustive. However, one of the least frequently noticed events of the anniversary year was announcement that the Coconut Grove Playhouse had been declared a historic landmark. Many will remember that this was the...

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10. Another Look at Those "Three Bollocks in a Cell": Someone Who'll Watch Over Me and the Shackles of History

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pp. 124-137

When Frank McGuinness's Someone Who'll Watch Over Me premiered on Broadway in 1991, it seemed perfectly pitched to bring its author the inter- national recognition that had so far eluded him.1 Though McGuinness’s work was largely unknown in the United States at that time...

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11. Faith Healer in New York and Dublin

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pp. 138-146

Faith Healer was revived by the Gate Theater in Dublin in 2006. After a sell-out run of six weeks in Dublin, it transferred to Broadway where, in spite of somewhat mixed reviews, it won a Tony nomination for Ralph Fiennes as leading actor and a Tony award for Ian McDiarmid...

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12. "Dancing on a One-Way Street": Irish Reactions to Dancing at Lughnasain New York

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pp. 147-162

Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa is an important example of the inter- relationship of American and Irish theater, particularly since 1990. Its script draws heavily on American culture, bringing us songs by Cole Porter and an approach to the narration of remembered events that is highly...

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13. "The Irish Play": Beyond the Generic?

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pp. 163-176

The title of this essay is not intended to indicate an Irish take on MacBeth; rather, its intention is conveyed by the subtitle. My approach is not scholarly, but speculative, an informal intervention into an ongoing debate about what "the Irish Play" is, and what it means to audiences outside of Ireland. ...

Notes

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pp. 179-194

Bibliography

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pp. 195-203

Index

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pp. 205-226


E-ISBN-13: 9780815651574
E-ISBN-10: 0815651570
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815631699
Print-ISBN-10: 0815631693

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Theater -- United States -- History.
  • English drama -- Irish authors -- History and criticism.
  • Irish -- United States -- History.
  • English drama -- Irish authors -- Appreciation -- United States.
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