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The Irish Dramatic Revival 1899-1939

Anthony Roche

DOI: 10.5040/9781408165980

ISBN: 9781408175286

The Irish Dramatic Revival was to radically redefine Irish theatre and see the birth of Ireland's national theatre, the Abbey, in 1904. From a consideration of such influential precursors as Boucicault and Wilde, Anthony Roche goes on to examine the role of Yeats as both founder and playwright, the one who set the agenda until his death in 1939. Each of the major playwrights of the movement refashioned that agenda to suit their own very different dramaturgies.

Roche explores Synge's experimentation in the creation of a new national drama and considers Lady Gregory not only as a co-founder and director of the Abbey Theatre but also as a significant playwright. A chapter on Shaw outlines his important intervention in the Revival. O'Casey's four ground-breaking Dublin plays receive detailed consideration, as does the new Irish modernism that followed in the 1930s and which also witnessed the founding of the Gate Theatre in Dublin.

The Companion also features interviews and essays by leading theatre scholars and practitioners Paige Reynolds, P.J. Mathews and Conor McPherson who provide further critical perspectives on this period of radical change in modern Irish theatre.

‘ What is new and welcome in this book is the inclusion of analyses of plays by playwrights often cast as marginal to the achievements of the Revival … The ghosts of the Irish Revival are expertly conjured and once again made vital.’ – Modern Drama

‘ Roche (Univ. of California, Davis), whose previous publications include Brian Friel: Theatre and Politics (CH, Mar'14, 51-3711) and Synge and the Making of Modern Irish Drama (CH, Jul'13, 50-6097), focuses on the figures who shaped this movement-W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, John Millington Synge, Sean O'Casey-and offers contextualized readings of their important plays. The author discusses various writers, benefactors, actors, and other figures who had a noteworthy influence on these dramas … It is accessible and valuable for those who seek to understand the cultural context of the revival. Summing Up: Recommended. ‘ Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.’ – CHOICE

… the series' brief to provide both “critical survey and analysis” [my emphasis] makes the task undertaken by Anthony Roche in his study of the Irish Dramatic Revival particularly challenging … However, as might be expected from a critic whose work on Irish drama has been among the most informed of his generation, Anthony Roche fulfills this difficult task with aplomb … Whether one comes to the book as a student looking for an authoritative introduction to the Irish Dramatic Revival, or as an experienced academic interested in finding connections to pursue in one's own research, Anthony Roche proves to be a most engaging Critical Companion.’ – BREAC

‘ Roche's synthetic study close reads, contextualizes, and creatively juxtaposes individual plays of the Dramatic Revival in provocative ways that spark insights and make connections that reveal the dialogic nature-yet also coherence-of the Irish dramatic canon … chapters of Roche's book are filled with myriad illuminating observations on the plays and personalities of the Irish Dramatic Revival … Those wishing to read further in the field will find Roche's bibliography of primary and secondary sources useful and judicious.’ – English Literature in Transition

‘ Anthony Roche's volume is a welcome addition to the canon of the Irish revival ... The volume provides a probing and insightful reflection on the distinct nature of the dramatic revival ... Roche's discussion is lively and engaging and there is a constant tone of enthusiasm for the subject ... This volume should be on the shelves of everyone interested in Irish drama and literature.’ – New Theatre Quarterly