Performance as Event and Its Technologies of Representation

School of Drama , Film and Music, Trinity College Dublin | 23-24 April 2010 

ISTR 2010 | Schedule

 

Abstracts

Bates, Julie (TCD): ‘But Is It Still Theatre, Eh Joe?’

In this paper I examine Atom Egoyan’s extraordinary Eh Joe with Michael Gambon and Penelope Wilton at the Gate in 2006. Manipulating the conventions of televisual and theatrical staging, Egoyan’s production made memory tangible in the form of the white scrim stretched over the mouth of the stage, upon which was projected Gambon’s face, looming larger and larger as the camera moved in for ever more extreme close-ups of his hunted expression. The first part of my paper is a dramaturgical study of the mediated intimacy offered by the production with reference to recordings and production stills. Next, I explore the affinities between Egoyan’s mixed media and a selection of comparable video art by Steve McQueen and Stan Douglas. This frames my discussion of the ‘theatricality’ of Egoyan’s production in particular, and, more broadly, of Beckett’s impact on video artists and the limited application of video art as a genre for exploring the concerns of Beckett’s memory plays or ‘dramaticules.’ In my final section I explore the further potential interface of video art and contemporary theatre in future productions of Beckett, bringing the technological if bloodless sensitivity of the former to bear on the embodied presence of the latter.

 

Bergin, Dan (TCD): ‘The Alternative Reality Game as Gesamtkunstwerk.’

It is not uncommon that as a field of study grows and matures that historians and theoreticians will attempt to assert the field’s value by appropriating various classical and historical precedents into a narrative of origins. Not unlike the strategies of some colonised peoples, the criticism surrounding Digital Gaming attempts to root itself and create a narrative grounded in highly regarded historical or classical events. Comic book artists are fashioned into a history of Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Irish literary revival is read as a desire to create Irish epics to match the Greeks, and computer gamers are compared to Wagner. It is this last (and perhaps latest) claim which this paper intends to investigate. Beginning with Jane McGonigal’s claim of Digital Gaming as Theatre in her article ‘All Gameplay is Performance’ this paper will look first at the claim that gaming (and in particular digital gaming) can be equated to Wagner’s ideas of Gesamtkunstwerk. This comparison will be further examined through study of the hybrid performance and gaming genre known as the Alternative Reality Game (ARG.) Drawing on theories of modern myth, science fiction studies, the paper will propose common themes in ARGs are rooted in common concerns of society. Through analysis of virtual communities, this paper will draw parallels with the hybrid event and Wagner’s famous theories of maximum human interaction. In conclusion the paper will surmise the performative potential of the ARG and some hopes for the future of digital gaming.

 

Brady, Sara (TCD): “‘Simulating War, Seducing Recruits: A Visit to the Army Experience Center.”

The Army Experience Center (AEC), a $12 million, 14,500-square-foot operation located in a Philadelphia shopping mall, is one of the latest projects implemented by the U.S. military as an investment in long-term recruitment goals. An interactive learning and recreational space, the AEC uses a variety of technologies, including three life-size simulators, videogames, computers with internet access, touch-screen exhibits and an operations control room, as recruiting tools for youths ages 13+. This paper examines the ways in which performance operates at the AEC, including recruiters performing false and at times deceitful narratives of Army life for potential recruits/spectators; visitors becoming performers in their own ‘battles’ using ‘real’ machine guns perched on Black Hawk and Apache helicopters; and entire simulated ‘missions’ taking place in the AEC’s state of the art control room.

 

Caulfield, Mary (TCD): ‘The Woman with a Garden’: Constance Markievicz and the performance of Nation.

The creation myth for a free Ireland was concieved during the executions of the fifteen men who were at the head of the Easter Rising in 1916. Markievicz, while sentenced to death, was reprieved of her fate due to her gender, affirming Sara Benton’s argument of the intentional political subordination of women as a result of a ‘military necessity’ and the “settlements men arrive at to finish wars.”[1] Markievicz asked to be executed along with her cohorts for that was the ultimate sacrifice, the act of Christian blood sacrifice that was essential for an authentic relationship between her and her nation, however, only men were allowed this sacrifice, thus making their love of nation organic and their blood essential to that of a free nation. This would have detrimental effects on the perception of Markievicz as soldier and make her quest for authenticity an insatiable one. This paper looks at the performance of Markievicz’s nationalism during her integral involvement the 1916 Rising, to revise and rewrite the creation story for an Independent Ireland.

 

Campbell, Alyson (QUB): ‘From Bogeyman to Bison: theatre, HIV and forgetting’

Working as assistant director on Reza Abdoh’s Bogeyman at Los Angeles Theater Center in 1991, the social context was one of billboards with grim reapers and warnings not to discriminate against AIDS sufferers. There was paranoia and the labelling of HIV/AIDS as a ‘gay plague’. The immediate context in the theatre was that Reza was HIV+ and already quite sick, as was one of the cast. The play was a huge-scale, multi-layered postmodern attack on the senses; the floor of the main stage was ripped out to make room for a three-story construction with nine separate sections. Charles Marowitz described it as a ‘gay inferno, and Abdoh is glorying in the perversity as much as he is chronicling it. It is unsightly, ferocious, redundant, inexorable … this is Charles Ludlam’s world perceived by Genet and rendered by the Marquis de Sade’.[2] Moving to 2009 and working on a new version of Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott’s 2000 play Bison, it became more and more apparent why Philpott was so determined to deal with what he sees as a collective amnesia about HIV/AIDS. HIV is now represented in the West as a chronic illness, not a death sentence; indeed, maybe most of all as an African illness. The current generation of young gay men in Western societies suffer the dangerous illusion that they are no longer at risk and see endless media representations that fetishize the gay male body as perfectly manicured, waxed, ‘zhuzhed’ and fit. There are very few representations of the older, let alone the diseased, ‘imperfect’ gay body. In Bison, when AIDS comes up as a something real that has affected a real life, as opposed to an old concept belonging to some other world, the youngest character ‘samples the word … like he’s trying to recollect some fact from his History GCSE exam’.[3] I propose that with Bison in 2009, while it is very different in style and scope from Abdoh’s Bogeyman, Philpott is staging a vital picture of contemporary gay masculinities, critiquing the relentless obsession with the perfect, ‘disease-free’ body and the forgetting of HIV that comes with it.

 

Causey, Matthew & Calchi-Novati, Gabriella (TCD): ‘The Techno-performativity of Beckett’s Televisual Subjects’.

Within the super-saturation of virtuality and technological reproductions in contemporary digital culture are established zones and terrains of indistinction and disappearance:  digital kamps. These environments we would nominate as examples of the bio-virtual and model the fields as a space of bio-politics par excellence. For the virtual is not simply virtual anymore as its affect within us is haptic and somatic and leads us to identify the space as a taking place within the non-place (as firstly modeled by Marc Augé) of the bio-virtual. The bio-virtual is no longer a problem of the desert of the real, of representational illusions, but an entrance of a techno-performativity of doubles and debris veiled through indistinction, confusion, and excess. The subject’s role in these digital/physical kamps is one of disappearance: a public denial and a private deferment. We will apply this theory of the bio-virtual to the late television plays of Samuel Beckett to consider their unique historical reflection of subjectivity in space of technology and the contemporary environment structured within the aftermath of the digital revolution and the resulting zoë-political zones of indistinction constructed of bio-virtual doubles, avatars and digital debris.

 

Cazeneuve, Laurence (University of Lille): ‘Performance as event in Beckett’s plays.’

While many critics underlined the importance of text in Beckett’s plays, it is undeniable that he also explored the limits of performance, especially in his condensed “dramaticules”[i]. Can the notion of “event”, as Gibson defined it, be applied to performance in Beckett’s drama? In Play, Not I and That Time, we will show as a first approach how Beckett plays with the theatrical technologies and the bodies of his characters[ii] in order to renew the potentials of performance on the ashes of the traditional Theatre forms. He thus seems to make of each performance an “event” for the audience. As the dehumanized, “defigured”[iii] stage deliberately reveals an apparent theatrical mechanism, far from any conventional representation, doesn’t it indeed open to new universal meanings and forms? But when the stage is reduced to a minimal space constantly threatened by darkness, while repetition enhances the artefactual construction at work in the plays, would it be possible that the very event should lie in the representation of the failure of any “event”, of any “happening” on the stage and in life?

 

Cho, Seong-Kwan (University of Warwick): ‘Shakespeare and theatrical innovation in South Korea’.

This paper will investigate Korean Shakespeare reception in terms of innovating local mise-en-scène. The bard introduced into the Korea as both ‘one of the greatest Western thinkers’ and a teacher of ‘modern theatre’. While bardolatry has been largely prevalent in English departments based on the Western-inspired transcendental and universal value of humanity, Korean theatre has been moved from mimicking to localizing Shakespeare which inevitably resulted in losing the poetry. Korea seems to show what Ania Loomba explained general aspect of ‘Post-colonial Shakespeare’(2002). While the argument that China and Japan, which share the common Confucian/Buddhist culture, owned a similar theatrical background to Early-Modern England in terms of theatrical convention, a Korean equivalent did not exist due to her traditional performance space, the yard of folk theatre. This fact has resulted in either displacing Shakespeare from the stage into the yard (where the folk theatre has been performed) or creating the atmosphere of the yard on the Westernized stage. This paper will illustrate this theatrical tension with describing the three successful Korean Shakespeare performances: Romeo and Juliet (1995, dir. Tae-Suk Oh), Hamlet (1996, dir. Youn-Taek Lee) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2002, dir. Jung-Ung Yang). Drawing upon cultural materialism and the writings of Kennedy (2009) and Loomba (2002), this paper also aims to discuss another dimension of Shakespeare’s transnational value apart from post-colonial use.

 

Clare, David (UCD): ‘Is Samuel Beckett’s radio play The Old Tune set in England or Ireland?’

Since its first broadcast in 1960, critics, publishers and theatre practitioners have disagreed about where exactly Samuel Beckett’s radio play The Old Tune is set. The play is a free translation of French playwright Robert Pinget’s play La Manivelle, and Pinget once remarked that when Beckett offered to translate the play, he said he intended to set the English language version in Dublin. While later commentators agree that the play’s two characters speak in Hiberno-English, there is still debate over whether the action actually takes place in Dublin. Vivien Mercier and T.P. Dolan have suggested that the play is set “somewhere in England”; the back cover of John Calder’s edition of the play states that the setting is “what could be pre-independence Ireland”; the editors of the Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett are certain that the play is set in Beckett’s native Dublin; and in 2006, a production of the play at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, directed by Corcadorca founder Pat Kiernan, advertised it as taking place in “rural Ireland”. I propose to make an in-depth analysis of the numerous place names and surnames in the play to determine where exactly Beckett intended the play to be set.

 

Collins, Christopher (TCD): ‘Cries of Pagan Desperation: J.M. Synge’s Riders to the Sea and the Celtic Geist’.

During the Literary Revival the residue from pagan Ireland was understood to be an expression of the Celtic Geist, and so, romantic dilettantes walked amongst the folk, collecting their lore in order to give their work a national-popular sentiment; Lady Gregory once confided in W.B. Yeats how she had longed “to turn Catholic, that I might be nearer to the people, but you have taught me that paganism brings me nearer still.” To be sure, the vestiges and traces of pagan Ireland haunt Irish folklore and J.M. Synge was acutely aware that folklore was a palimpsest of structures that narrated everyday life. Synge’s acquired this knowledge from his frequent sojourns in the Aran Islands, which he first visited in May 1898. On Aran, Synge detected a healthy pattern of pre-Christian beliefs behind a thin veneer of Catholic religiosity. Riders to the Sea (1904) is Synge’s dramatic response to the cheerful interchange between pre-Christian and Christian beliefs. Synge dramatises the efficacy of pre-Christian folklore that is negotiated by a latter-day druidic seer who exercises the imbas forosnaí (knowledge of enlightening). However, when these tragic harbingers are not adhered to, an idiosyncratic death-ritual (the caoine) is conducted. A Catholic Synod effaced the caoine from the cultural narrative in 1670, and when Synge staged his play, the hegemony of the Catholic bourgeoisie quickly closed ranks after detecting a strong whiff of paganism. This paper will highlight the nodal points in Synge’s seditious staging of pre-Christian Ireland and will demonstrate how Synge’s dramaturgical praxis is ‘a strategic use of positivist essentialism in a scrupulously visible political interest’ (Spivak 1985:342).

 

Cooney, Eileen (TCD): ‘Actress turned Impresario: How the adversity experienced by Irish women actors brings about the impetus for creation through writing and production.’

I will be discussing the stimulus for Irish actresses to become playwrights, with reference to Elaine Murphy and Janet Behan, and create female production companies, most notably Charabanc. I will relate these with my personal experience as an Irish actress working in Ireland and abroad and founding Priory Productions with three other Irish women actors in London. Through real life examples, I will discuss the influence of gender on the practice of being an Irish actress here and overseas and the root of some gender based frustrations they would have. I will explore the genesis of Priory Productions, with reference to other Irish production companies created by women, and I will close on how the initiative of Irish female actors can result in high levels of creativity and success.

 

Curtin, Adrian (Northwestern University): ‘Dial-Up Theatre: Recalling the Theatre Phone’.

In this paper, I will provide an overview of the “theatre phone” – a device that enjoyed some success in Europe in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries – and will theorise its usage and significance. The function of the theatre phone was to connect listeners to selected theatres and opera houses; it could be used at home (by individual subscription) or in public salons and foyers. I argue that the theatre phone introduced a unique form of theatrical reception and challenged some foundational premises of theatre, e.g. what it means to be ‘present’ at an event; the form and function of an audience member; the ontological status of a performance, its spatial parameters, and the modes of communication and reception that it deploys. The theatre phone allowed for the creation and participation of telephonic audience members that were located from afar, technologically situated both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ an event, creating the stage through the use of auditory imagination. Moreover, the theatre phone separated the soundscape of a performance from its source and proliferated it telephonically to a myriad of geographically disparate locations. For the first time, theatrical reception was wholly reliant on a soundscape for a performance to become meaningful. I propose to trace the history of the theatre phone, offer an account of theatre phone auditorship, and (in conclusion) relate this phenomenon to its present-day counterpart: the live streaming of opera in multiplex cinemas (“The Met: Live in HD”).

 

D’Arcy, Geraint (University of Glamorgan): ‘Technology Performing the Unrepresentable’.

‘Either the stage will be naturalistic, or it will not exist at all’[4] In the nineteenth century the literary form of drama was in crisis[5]. Running parallel to this was a crisis of representation: limelight may have thrown ‘open the glittering realms of fairyland’[6], but it also cast three-dimensional shadows onto two-dimensional scenery to the dissatisfaction of dramatists and audiences alike. As demands were made by writers like Zola, artisans struggled to create “realistic” spectacle, especially when it was as unrealistic as a ghost. Two major theatrical devices were created in this period to produce an apparition on stage: The Corsican Trap (1852) and Pepper’s ghost (1862). Both devices made stage ghosts, and both were extremely popular. However, though the effect was the same, the affect was very different. This paper examines whether technology is performative, and if it is, can it also be theatrical? Using Freud’s The Uncanny, and referencing Weimann’s and Bachelard’s respective theories of space, it will be shown that the devices transcend their mere physical constructions; that their divergence is one of aesthetic and not just of craft.

 

FitzPatrick Dean, Joan (University of Missouri-Kansas City): ‘Historical Pageantry at the Tóstal, 1953-56: Hayes-McCoy, Mac Liammóir, and Johnston’.

In its first four years, An Tóstal included pageants of Irish history. Before the Dublin Theatre Festival, An Tóstal looked to historical and mythological pageantry to re-write Irish history and to draw thousands of non-professionals into performances of Ireland’s heritage. The distinctive labor-intensive technology of these pageants used these thousands of participants to create epic spectacles. In 1953, Gerard Hayes-McCoy, Professor of History at University College Galway, wrote a series of vignettes presented at the Theatre Royal under the rubric “Trumpet Call”, a military pageant created and performed by for the Department of Defense. The next year, Hayes-McCoy was commissioned to write The Pageant of St. Patrick, an epic site-specific pageant performed over three days at Drogheda, Slane, and Tara. This historical pageant locates the defining moment in Irish history in the country’s conversion to Catholicism. The spectacle featured a “Cast of 1,700–Massed Choir of 400 voices–Greatest Pageant ever produced in Ireland–Four episodes extending over two days”. So popular was this version of Ireland’s past that Micheál Mac Liammóir was commissioned to create a more dramatically coherent pageant of St. Patrick for multiple performances at Croke Park in 1955. Whereas Hayes-McCoy was a military historian who insisted on fidelity to what he believed to be historically “true”, Mac Liammóir offered a much more theatrical and freewheeling account of the events that he represented as defining Ireland. In 1956, An Tóstal commissioned Denis Johnston to create another, far more secular by adapting The Tain. Johnston’s pageant failed to capture the popular imagination and was the last of the Tóstals epic spectacles.

 

Fitzpatrick, Lisa (University of Ulster): ‘Performing Rape and Sexual Violence’.

This paper focuses on the staging of the female body in performances of rape or sexual violence – such as On Raftery’s Hill, Pumpgirl and Giselle. The paper seeks to interrogate the silencing of the violated body, and the resulting obstruction of a subjective witnessing to the violence. The enactment of sexual violence is particularly problematic because of its potentially titillating display; because the representation inevitably engages in a range of social and cultural discourses about sex and the body, and because of the possibility that the violence will be erased and replicated as a ‘something else’. This ‘something else’ allows the spectator to evade the ethical demands of witnessing by replacing the violence done to the body, with a rationale that it is only pretend, or is part of the text. The paper seeks to open consideration of staging solutions that render the rape visible to the spectator in the act of reception.

 

Harris, kate (TCD): ‘BEYOND THE AESTHETIC: APPLICATIONS FOR COMMUNITY-BASED DRAMA’.

This paper explores uses of community-based drama beyond the production of an aesthetic product.  Drama developed within the community is less constrained by commercial requirements, thus allowing it to utilize performance towards the achievement of wider social and political aims. The paper will specifically address the Hidden drama produced by the voluntary agency Community Response. The Hidden project was developed and staged in Dublin between 2004 and 2005.  The piece was devised by participants from the Dublin inner-city community using their encounters with HSE service providers as a basis for the script. Hidden was performed by the participants 14 times for a range of communities.  The paper considers the use of performance in this context to frame and highlight individual experience, using the heightened emotional awareness evoked in a performance environment as a tool for communities to engage with social and political issues. The paper will also examine how the structure of the Hidden performances incorporated immediate feedback from the community audiences, thereby creating a unique method of community consultation. Finally, the paper will look critically at the effectiveness of community-based drama as a instrument for community consultation, and analyse the outcome of the Hidden project for the participants, the voluntary agency, and the wider community.

 

Harrower, Natalie (TCD): ‘The Place of Identity: Mapping Dublin/ers through Site-Specific Performance’

While the Dublin Theatre Festival’s programming has included performances in unconventional spaces, “mobile” theatre, and street theatre since the 1970s, site-specific performance events have become notably more prominent in recent years. In the 2007 Festival, for example, the Dublin Docklands Authority helped sponsor On the Case, at George’s Dock, and small metal objects, at the IFSC, while 10 minute episodes, under the title La Marea, were running for free to passersby in Dublin’s Italian Quarter. At the most recent Festival, Liberty Hall was animated nightly by an interactive light installation, and a piece about Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins was delivered to limited audiences in Newman House – the very house where Hopkins died. These events express more than an interest in avant-garde theatre; they are part of a broader cultural phenomenon shaping Irish identity. Using the DTF as a case study, this paper traces how the spaces of these performance events construct a topography of Dublin that puts memory and history in tension with the desire for newness, change, and continued economic growth. Building on Una Chaudhuri’s concept of geopathology and Walter Benjamin’s writings on the flaneur, this paper will demonstrate how recent site-specific performance events create an image of Dublin that is both fixed and transitional, nostalgic, and resolutely forward-looking. Given Artistic Director Loughlin Deegan’s stated desire for a Festival “unconstrained by venues,” and his effort to bring in “as many foreigners as possible,” it is fair to assume that these trends will continue to shape the spectator’s conception of the city at large.

 

Haughton, Miriam (UCD): ‘The Performance of Power in Mark O’Rowe’s Terminus: The Violent Physicality of the Poetic Body.’

Mark O’Rowe’s 2007 Terminus offers a glimpse at the widespread dystopia of Celtic Tiger Dublin. Alter realities are intertwined with the physical world as day-to-day violence constitutes the core of urban life, while loneliness of the individual has never seemed so deafening in this multimedia communicative culture. How does a production perform such a dynamic? What are the dominant prevailing hegemonic structures at play in Ireland’s booming capital? O’Rowe’s use of the speaking body on stage is far-reaching: his dialogue illuminates the space, time and the battles at hand in his characters’ physical and mythical worlds. In this play written and directed by O’Rowe, a particular narrative performance style that has become synonymous with his body of work is marked, while simultaneously contesting the dominant aesthetic of Celtic Tiger culture. This paper will pinpoint the nexus of power structures at work in O’Rowe’s Terminus using his poetic lyricism of despair to portray the visceral and physical intensity of contemporary hegemony in Celtic Tiger urban spaces.

 

Hickson, James (TCD): ‘Staging ‘Dublin’: Gender and Urban (Dis)Location as Performative Event in Contemporary Irish Drama’.

This paper will consider the performative rendition of Dublin in contemporary Irish drama as an attempt by the characters of the plays discussed to materialize a legitimate and admissible event, and in turn, qualify their experiences and existences. It will attend primarily to the gendered and spatial identities of the plays’ characters, in relation to the representation of Dublin across different theatrical technologies; text, scenographic design, and, given the theme of the conference, digital expressions associated with Philip McMahon’s Danny and Chantelle (still here) (2007) and Elaine Murphy’s Little Gem (2008). The performative manifestation of place, in situating ‘Dublin’ onstage (and off stage, in the case of the electronic expressions), complicates the city as a delimited entity. Theatrical impressions of Dublin’s urban landscape and mindscapes induce alternative conceptual locations, and usher the dislocation and renegotiation of spatial, gendered and sexual identities. The individuals who populate the plays, then, might be considered both ‘despatialized’ and ‘decentred’, as their immediate identitive indicators – geographical location and gendered landscape – are re-determined. While the characters of these Dublin plays often persist in the pursuit of definitive or dependable identities, the event of staging Dublin could be thought of as disrupting the material, conceptual and discursive boundaries of the city and its inhabitants, and affording agency anew. Thus, taking account of Andrew Gibson’s notion that ‘the truth of newness’ emerges as an effect of ‘the event’, this paper will ask which ‘newnesses’, or indeed, which visions and versions of identitive ‘truth’, transpire with the staging and performance of Dublin on stage.

 

Higgins, William (TCD).

My paper will focus on performance as it relates to politics with specific analysis at what I would here call the “Flashpoint” at which a politician’s spoken word commits him or her to a course of action. I will cite Obama’s “beer summit” in which a media train ran away with his modest proposal of discussing an issue of race and misunderstanding over a beer. The ensuing media circus posed and hypothesized on every question from what type of beer should the president be seen endorsing? Should he be seen to drink at all? Where on the White house grounds would this be appropriate (surely not in the garden near the children’s playground for his children)? I would like to further support my analysis with examples of other contemporary and historical scenarios similar and related theorists and scholars. Following this, I want to take a look at what such a culture of linear action suggests in terms of the most recent State of the Union Address and his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. Without dipping too heavily into blind conjecture, I will offer potential pathways of where and how these will play out despite their ironic contexts within the model I plan to construct.

 

Howard, Mary (St. Patrick’s College): “Many Advices”: Drama in Education’s Techniques in Actor Training and the Building of Ensemble’.

Using Irish play texts as its basis, this paper will discuss and illustrate a number of the wider associations between Drama in Education (DIE) and the making of theatre than are sometimes understood. The paper will examine in particular how DIE approaches and techniques can assist actors-in-training in the exploration of text, in ‘finding their way into the play’. The essential strategy inherent in DIE approaches and techniques is the bringing together of diverse understandings in such a way that they interanimate each other, in this case in the exploration of text, providing a fertile ground for effective dramatic encounters within the learning and rehearsal processes. Drawing on the major contributors to the field of DIE, such as O’Neill, Bond, Nicholson, Boal (some of whose lesser-known internal techniques will be illustrated), on the Experiential Learning Theory of David Kolb, and other constructivist learning theorists and philosophers, including Paulo Freire, the paper will show how these approaches involve the student actor in interactive learning experiences leading to critical reflection and new understandings.

 

Insinga, Monica (UCD): ‘Immortal tales of common life: Thomas Kilroy’s adaptation of Six Characters in Search of an Author and Marina Carr’s Woman and Scarecrow.’

This paper will analyse Thomas Kilroy’s 1996 adaptation of Pirandello’s masterpiece, Six Characters in Search of an Author, and Marina Carr’s 2006 play, Woman and Scarecrow, as two stories about figures such as the members of a generic and yet specific family on one side and a common and yet unique dying woman and the people surrounding her on the other side. In Kilroy’s adaptation of Six Characters, one of the actors creating the frame for this play-within-the-play talks about how contemporary theatre must ‘reach people where they really are! In their real lives.’[7] After a few minutes six figures, claiming to be real characters in search of an author come on stage out of nowhere. Some could believe they come directly from the streets, like ordinary figures claiming to be something completely out of the ordinary, universal representations of a Father, a Mother, a Stepdaughter, a Son, a Little Boy and a Little Girl destined to repeat their story perpetually for as long as the play is put on stage. In Carr’s Woman and Scarecrow we see the life of Woman traced from her childhood until her dying moment through both her eyes and those of her alter ego, an enigmatic figure called Scarecrow. I will then consider the other two characters present in the play, Him and Auntie Ah, as refractions of the protagonist, who play their role in telling the universal story of what we could call an Everywoman representing as many characters as any woman can be. Taking into account the most basic and essential relationships between these figures in terms of conflict between life and form, real and unreal, and the most universal relationship, between life and death, I will then argue that these plays raise the status of these elemental and basic stories to the ranks of immortal and perpetual representations of the human condition.

 

Jaros, Michael (Salem State University): ‘Yeats’ Aura, Beckett’s Clouds: Inspiration, Memory, and Failure on Television.’

Beckett’s short, 1978 film for television, …but the clouds…remains a difficult text; its title is taken from the last lines from William Butler Yeats’ own, difficult 1938 poem, “The Tower.” Various scholars, from Katherine Worth onwards, have explored the thematic interplay between the two works. Additionally, the recent publication of several monographs on Beckett’s television work—along with a special 2009 Journal of Beckett Studies issue—speak to the renewed critical interest with regard to Beckett’s oeuvre in this branch of mass-media. Although vastly different in both form and scope, the poem and the television piece both concern the fraught relationship between artistic inspiration, memory, and failure. Building upon recent work on Beckett’s television pieces, the proposed paper shall explore how Yeats’s text is filtered through Beckett’s screen, focusing specifically on how the medium of television complicates the relationship between the two works, as well as each piece’s representation of the authorial position. Ultimately, the paper shall examine how the end of the “aura” of the artistically inspired work in an age of mechanical reproduction plays into the processes of memory, failure, and inspiration in Beckett’s work.

 

Jordan, Eamonn (UCD): ‘Theatricalising Irishness’.

This paper will look at how Ireland and Irishness permeate the work of Martin McDonagh’s five west of Ireland plays. I will consider what is potentially traditional, normalised, dysfunctional and anarchic within these plays that are set in notionally traditional spaces. The paper will explore the dialectics between conspicuous essentializing and premeditated performativity and between notions of “enriched Irishness” (Diane Negra) and a supplementary or depleted Irishness in both the written and performance texts.

 

Kelly, Marie & Sweeney Berni: ‘Anarchic and Strange: Only an Apple’.

This paper, based on a chapter from the forthcoming collection ‘The Theatre of Tom Mac Intyre: Strays from the Ether’ edited by Marie Kelly and Bernadette Sweeney, (Carysfort: pending) considers the 2009 Abbey premiere of Mac Intyre’s Only an Apple. This paper uses interview material from director Selina Cartmell and imagery of the production by photographer Ros Kavanagh to consider Mac Intyre’s latest work within the context of his canon of work. Sweeney and Kelly interrogate the play’s use of the unreal, the anarchic and the carnal, its theatricality and its staging of gender: “…the  males: unsure of what’s next… the women: altogether commanding…”. This paper also considers the relationship between the published script and the staged script, and how Mac Intyre’s work in particular resists the traditional rules of publication and production. We conclude with an overview of the production’s critical reception, and how this play reflects this latest period of output from one of Ireland’s most prolific, experimental and undaunted playwrights.

 

Kerr, Aideen (TCD): ‘The Theatrical and Social Performances of Oscar Wilde as evidenced in Popular Culture’.

This paper explores the dramatic performance and re-performance onstage of a selection of Wilde’s most famous plays including Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest. I will examine how the performativity of Wilde’s dramatic canon relates to the construction of his manifold social identity. By also focusing on Wilde’s surface performance of identity, for example on his 1892 American lecture tour, this paper will argue that Wilde’s identity was, in essence, a manipulated and ritual performance. I use a range of performance and gender theorists in my analysis of Wilde’s performativity; including Peggy Phelan, Eve Kosofsky and Ed Cohen. Apart from Wilde’s dramatic output a brief exploration of the re-performance of Wilde onstage in contemporary society will be essential. In connection to that the article will conclude with an examination of the global images of Wilde that circulate the internet. In this sense a comparison is possible between the performativity of Wilde onstage from Victorian to current versions of him that dominate contemporary popular culture.

 

Kiourtzoglou, Anastasia (UCD): Les Madames D’ Epidaurus.

In 2007, Beckett’s “Happy Days” were scheduled to be presented in Epidaurus as part of the famous drama festival which takes place every August in Greece. That year the festival included not only ancient Greek tragedies but also modern plays related to the ancient Greek drama. The two ancient dramas on the programme were Antigone by Sophocles and Lycistrata by Aristophanes. So what does Beckett have in common with Sophocles and Aristophanes?   How are Winnie, Lycistrata and Antigone related to each other? Has Winnie’s social role changed much since Lycistrata and Antigone’s? What’s their scenic and dramatic space? What’s their relationship with men? What are their expectations? Do they have the same tone? Does their way of thinking differ and if so are the reasons cultural, social, economical or all these together? What’s the effect of the language on the performances and the audience? Has anything been lost in translation? Is the world of in the ancient drama bleaker than we think or is it Beckett’s world brighter? The questions mentioned above or a number of those questions depending on the length of the presentations I’ll try to answer in my paper in order to show the similarities and differences of three heroines presented by three major playwrights.

 

Kurdi, Mária (University of Pecs): ‘Performances of Synge in Hungary After the mid-1980s’.

The paper hereby proposed is aiming to analyse some Hungarian productions of Synge around and after the watershed year of 1989, considering the ways in which decisive political and socio-cultural changes have shaped the stage interpretations of the plays. By 1986 all of Synge’s plays, except for the early piece When the Moon Has Set had been translated and most of them had their primière in Hungary. From 1987 onwards The Well of the Saints became the choice of several directors. The growing popularity of the play with theatres can be attributed, I will argue, to its relevance in a society undergoing fundamental changes regarding the relationship between individual and community, the personal and the ideological. I will also discuss the attempts of directors to introduce unique devices to render the complex symbolism of The Well and The Playboy. The latter also had several revivals in the period, for instance two very different ones in 2007, the centenary of the play’s world première. I am going to compare the best productions of The Playboy in Hungary in view of their experimental recreation of setting and style to interprete the play for new Hungarian audiences.

 

Lonergan, Patrick (NUIG): ‘Re-mediating war: Ireland and Iraq in Colin Teevan’s How Many Miles to Basra?’

 

Maples, Holly (University of East Anglia): “Dancing the Body Politic: National Reimaginings and Collective Identity in Contemporary Irish and American Dance Theatre”.

According to Norbert Servos, the discipline of Tanztheater, or ‘dance theatre,’ brings to mind “the union of genuine dance and theatrical methods of stage performance, creating a new, unique dance form … which distinguishes itself through an intended reference to reality.” These references to “reality” have, in recent years, become targeted social critique of national identity and collective memory in productions throughout the world, highlighting Dance Theatre as a performative space for the dancing body to display, subvert and challenge the metaphoric ‘body politic’ of a nation. In this paper, I will examine how contemporary dance theatre companies in Ireland and the United States have expanded the discipline to use dance not only as an embodied text on which we construct meaning of national history, race, and collective identity, but also as a canvas on which meaning can be both inscribed and resisted for/by the audience. The dancing bodies on the stage perform their struggle, outrage and hope for the nation by not only interpreting national issues, but embodying them. Through an exploration of the contemporary Irish dance theatre companies, Fabulous Beast and Coisceim, with the American companies, Alvin Ailey and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, this paper examines how two distinct nations use contemporary dance theatre as a forum to reinterpret collective identity in the midst of widespread social change. Indeed, I argue that it is through the physical landscape of the body that makes the discipline an ideal platform for what Bill T. Jones describes as “national redemption.”

 

 

McGrath, Aoife (TCD): ‘At the edge of the event?: the dance of “unfixed thoughts” in the work of Jean Butler and Colin Dunne’.

Jean Butler and Colin Dunne were both champion Irish step dancers and soloists in the commercial Irish dance show Riverdance (1994) before they began their experimentations merging contemporary dance and traditional step. This paper will examine how their recent choreographies depart from the determinacy of traditional Irish dance technique, while simultaneously acknowledging its formation and haunting of their corporeality. Reminiscent of the precision dances of the Tiller Girls, the chorus-line of dancers in the finale of Riverdance can be viewed as an example of a living commodity that is trapped in a site that allows for no indeterminacy, obediently embodying both the technology and machinery of its creation and the product itself. In Butler’s Does She Take Sugar (2007) and Dunne’s Out of Time (2008) we see dancing bodies striving to disobey the impulses dictated by technique and playfully moving in ways that have not yet been named. Building on Badiou’s discussion in his Handbook of Inaesthetics of the “undreamed of virginity” of the evental site created by dance, Butler and Dunne’s works will be examined in light of their ability to create new space for indeterminate, “unfixed thoughts”.

 

McNamara, Audrey (UCD): ‘Candida: A Shavian Oedipal Crisis’.

Candida, written in the latter part of 1894, appears to signal a crisis in Shaw’s ideals and indeed his personal life. He wrote the play with Janet Achurch in mind, for whom he had a strong ‘spiritual attraction.’ Holroyd states that ‘Candida derived from his [Shaw’s] mother and was to be replaced by Janet and was to transport them both to a plane of religious ecstacy.’[8] Holroyd also argues that it is the most tightly constructed and economical of Shaw’s plays and that it is A Doll’s House in reverse.[9] It is the contention of this paper that there is no reversal of the ‘doll’s’ role within this play. Candida, though the catharsis that Nora Helmer experienced is denied to her is very much the ‘doll’ as the male characters within the play display the same patriarchal expectations of the role of the feminine. Wife and mother are words that are interchangeable. Arguably, it is Shaw’s point that it is not the female that needs to change; rather it is the patriarchal attitudes that surround her that need to be adjusted. Shaw has presented a classical oedipal dilemma, the resentment of a younger man, Marchbanks, for an older one, the Reverend Morell, regarding the affections of Morell’s wife. The play’s dramatic form is also classical, presenting unity of time and place. This paper will explore how Shaw’s ‘oedipal crisis’ manifests itself through dramatic form.

 

Mc Sweeney, Réidín (NCAD): ‘The Performative Index: The role of audience in the documentation of performance art in Ireland.’

This paper reflects my doctoral research which is tracing the origins and development of performance art in Ireland. Based on archival and primary research, this project reflects the ‘performative turn’ in critical theory and cultural studies by interrogating the link between performance art and performativity and creating a discursive historical, cultural and critical framework for live performance art events outside their initial moment. This research discusses, readdresses and reformulates the relationship between performance and viewer and viewer and documentation. Offering a new perspective on performance theory, I argue that the documentation of a performance is contingent on both the audience of the document and the initial live audience of the act it records. Highlighting the validity of documenting performance art practices by recording audience’s experiences and memories of the live act, this research both proposes and practically applies the theory of the performative index. Discussing the origins of this theory, this paper will focus on the role and significance of the performative index in the documentation of performance art by exploring the impact of employing it as a core research methodology. Employing a series of performance art works produced in Midleton, Co. Cork in 1985 as a case study, this paper will consider performance art’s existence outside of its initial moment by examining the relationship between the material traces of these works and audience memories of them.

 

McTighe, Trish (QUB): ‘Noli me Tangere: Haptic Certitude in Samuel Beckett’s Nacht und Träume’.

This paper will examine the act of touch in Beckett’s television play Nacht und Träume. The play contains a significant moment of touch: hands emerge from the darkness in the image dreamt by the lone figure. I argue that this reaching towards – and oftentimes failure – to make contact with the other is a key element of Beckett’s aesthetic, which I term haptic. To frame the discussion I utilise the work of Jean Luc-Nancy (Corpus, 2008 & Noli me Tangere, 2008), drawing on the role that touch plays in his analysis of the body in Western culture and representation. This exploration connects the act of touch as presented in these plays with its meaning in culture as a verifier of presence, human or divine. Touch, while it signifies an attempt to verify presence (as in Doubting Thomas) also, in Nancy’s thinking, reveals an anxiety over presence. This approach enables a discussion of the nature of Beckett’s television work, and the ghostly or ‘virtual’ (McMullan, 2002), bodies presented in these plays. I conclude by commenting on the tactile nature of our relation to technology and media, drawing together theological, technological and phenomenological discourses as they relate to haptics in Beckett’s work.

 

Meehan, Emma (TCD): “Mobility and Somatic Experience: Flânerie in Maya Lila”.

The site-specific, improvised performances of dancer Joan Davis encourage the audience to become active agents within a multi-sensory installation space. The performance event in Maya Lila includes the movement of audience and performers through the space, as part of a constantly shifting choreography of bodies. Drawing on the idea of the “flâneur” described by Baudelaire and Benjamin, I analyse the impact of mobility on both audience and performers. In particular, I pay attention to the challenge that Davis’ somatic approach offers to the gaze of the flâneur. In this paper, I provide a description and analysis of mobility and multi-sensory experience in Maya Lila, in contrast with notions of the physically passive audience member or spectator. In addition, I discuss the issues of writing about Davis’ aleatory performance, proposing methods for writing about performances which change radically every time.

 

 

Morris, Catherine (UCD): ‘Alice Milligan and Irish National Theatre’.

Focusing on Milligan’s multifaceted engagement with drama from 1893, this paper will explore her attempts to realise a vision for Irish theatre that was decentred and democratic. Milligan responded with such passion to the medium of theatre because of the opportunity it provided her to work directly with a community of players, themselves drawn from local communities. The production of history through drama thus activated a powerful charge of immediacy and involvement. I will argue that the critical intervention of Alice Milligan provides a unique lens through which the traditional narrative of Ireland’s national theatre can be refocused to take account of forgotten modes of cultural practice. Her theatrical enterprises differed substantially from the dominant currents within the ‘canonised’ textual national theatre of Yeats, Synge and Gregory. An alternative story of localised community drama emerges out of Milligan’s uncollected letters; multiple play reviews; newspaper articles; her published and unpublished plays; the fragments of her lost theatre scripts; rare photographs; tableaux sketches; notes for performances; private diaries; and through memoirs written by those who both witnessed and performed Milligan’s theatre shows. This rich and untapped archive, I will suggest, reveals an animated world of national drama that was taking place across Ireland from the last decade of the nineteenth century. It is through Milligan scattered papers that we glimpse the involvement of a whole raft of unnamed workers in the Revival movement. We suddenly discover that Ireland’s national theatre was not just the extraordinary story of the Abbey Theatre; it was a movement experienced and envisaged by school teachers, women’s alliances, Gaelic League workers, community groups, children, emerging actresses, playwrights and directors. Milligan’s ideas for national theatre emanated from within the actual moment of conception and realisation; in the dialogue of planning; in the community of performance and production. Her plays and tableaux were staged in school halls; on city streets; in fields where they were watched by audiences on benches carved out of felled trees. My paper will explore how these audiences were not passive, ticket-buying anonymous people; those who watched were those built the stages and sewed the costumes; those who performed the shows had sourced the props and invented stage effects out of local materials. Milligan was a central figure in creating the conditions that would give Irish National drama a radical new meaning on the local, national and international stage.

 

Mulrooney, Deirdre: ‘Who’s Afraid of Pina Bausch? Bausch’s Emancipated Spectator and ensuing documentation challenges’.

In this paper I will explore whether the dynamic Pina Bausch set up with the spectator may have anticipated Roncière’s notion of “The Emancipated Spectator”, and what motivated Bausch to abandon the “nation-narration” in her original, script-free theatrical idiom. Alluding to my own original scripts of Bausch’s “City pieces”, “Viktor” (1986); “Palermo Palermo” (1989); “Tanzabend 2, 1991”, and “Ein Trauerspiel” (1994), published in my PhD thesis “Orientalism, Orientation, and the Nomadic Work of Pina Bausch” (Frankfurt: Peter Lang GmbH, 2002), I propose to investigate the unique dynamic Bausch set up with her spectator.   I will consider the new artistic form Bausch invented in historical context, and ask whether her new idiom was born in direct reaction to the psychology of fascism.  Did Bausch’s new theatrical idiom relate to what philosopher Eric Fromm describes in The Fear of Freedom, as Fascism’s annihilation of the individual self and its utter submission to a higher power? Might Bausch have set out to dismantle what psychologist Karl Gustav Jung described as “the herd instinct” through her new idiom?  “It is only single persons…” she asserted. “There is no such thing as communal response.  Each person in the public is part of a piece, and has their own relationship to it”.

 

Murphy, Paul (QUB): ‘Irish Theatre and the National Identity Game’.

During the course of the 20th Century, identitarian paradigms of nation and nationalism formed the superstructure in which Irish theatre was for the most part produced and received. From the inception of the modern Irish dramatic movement in the plays of W.B. Yeats, Lady Augusta Gregory, J.M. Synge and Sean O’Casey in the first quarter of the century, on to the classic modern period of Brian Friel, Tom Murphy and Hugh Leonard, national identity was the predominant motiv around which plays were constructed. In the final quarter of the century playwrights such as Marina Carr, Conor McPherson and Martin McDonagh constructed plays which engaged with issues that were adjacent to national identity and for that matter were just as integral to the lived realities of people on the island. The aim of this paper is to engage with Irish theatre which specifically moves beyond the hackneyed paradigm of national identity to explore the wider vicissitudes of ontology as they are manifest in performance. The philosophies of Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek will be brought to bear upon the matter of ontology qua performance, specifically in relation to how that performance exists beyond national identity in terms of the Irish theatrical experience.

 

O’Brien, Cormac (UCD): ‘Virgin Fecking Gayboys’: Masculine sexuality and sacred celibacy in Martin Mc Donagh’s The Lonesome West’.

Notions of authentic Irish manhood have long been the concern of several self-appointed vanguards. The ideology of the chaste, virtuous, newly-Independent Catholic Irishman was heavily promoted by both the Catholic church and nationalist movements, pushing a new man for a new nation state, a discourse of Irish manhood that had its roots in hagiography and the reclamation of an essential Irish purity. Through the medium of the church’s pastoral role and its stronghold in schools, youth organisations, GAA clubs and parish management, this discourse became ubiquitous. It was led by a young priesthood who acted as the chosen few, truly honoured, as Joseph Nugent puts it, to be ‘carrying to every parish in Ireland the passionate rhetoric of sacred national regeneration now backed with the authority of their new priestly state.’[10] In Martin McDonagh’s The Lonesome West (1997), the cantankerous and irascible Connor brothers, Coleman and Valene, have inherited generations of this masculine iconicity, espoused from the pulpit and mapped across the collective conscious of the laity.   For the common man this doctrine of masculinity provocatively promoted a strange mix of rugged, sporting and virlile, yet confusingly chaste, role models such as St. Columba and St. Ignatius.   If saintliness could be embodied on earth it was to be found in the men of Catholic Ireland and achieved through an almost cult-like veneration of male saints. I give The Lonesome West a reading that somewhat queers the text by taking into consideration both the sexual histories of the Connor brothers, and the religious and nationalist forces that have shaped those histories.   When we view these two protagonists in the light of this historically significant discourse of twentieth-century Irish masculinity, that of the chaste newly-Independent Catholic Irishman, we uncover, I suggest, the late-modern conclusion of an earlier discourse of sacred mascluine nationalism, a trope that McDonagh here maps as disrupted by a raw1990s late-modernity.

 

O’Brien, Karen (University of North Carolina): ‘The Image of Woman in Marina Carr’s Woman and Scarecrow and Marble’.

Marina Carr is the preeminent woman contemporary playwright in Ireland having achieved world renown with international productions of plays over two decades. A focus on gender continues to be important not only because Carr is the only major female voice in contemporary playwrighting in the Republic but also because she addresses issues of womanhood from a woman’s perspective. Carr asserts her own image of woman, who often seeks liberation through engagement with fantasy, dreams, and the supernatural. I propose to investigate the image of woman in two recent plays, Woman and Scarecrow (2006) and Marble (2009). In these plays, Carr makes allusion to inter- and extra-textual art to point to the tension between suppression and liberation which dominates the lives of women in her plays. In Woman and Scarecrow, the image of woman in Caravaggio’s The Death of the Virgin (ca. 1601-1606) and Henri Fuseli’s The Nightmare (1781) express suffocation and exhaustion in a way that resonates with the title character named Woman. In Marble, both the image of the woman in a painting by Giorgio de Chirico and the painter’s surrealist style intertwine with the play structurally and thematically. De Chirico is featured as the name of the café, a setting—much like the painting—that spurs the exploration of dreams and the gendered expression of melancholy and discontent. The weave of artistic allusion is one distinguishing technique that may help us to better understand the practice of playwriting by Carr and, more broadly, the kind of interventions dramas by women make.

 

Oesterle, Carolyn (University of Freiburg): ‘From Atmospheres to Ecstasies: Performing the Past and Its Technologies of Coporeal Actualization’

Historical reenactment is a cultural performance practice that has become extremely popular in recent years. Its popularity can be traced to a general history boom, but also to a tendency towards performative practices that culminate in the event and engender corporeal-affective appropriations of cultural matters. As with any form of applied theater, living history makes use of theatrical techniques and technologies to facilitate an atmosphere that aims for a corporeal actualization of an otherwise absent and inaccessible past. As performance theorist Erika Fischer-Lichte has argued, atmosphere may form a calculated part of theater production and may be generated by material acts such as lighting, sounds, odors or certain forms of embodiment; its performative, transitory, and transformative quality, however, is grounded in the fact that the audience is not merely a passive recipient of the production’s symbolic atmospheres, but rather recipient and producer of the event’s atmospheres concurrantly. Accordingly, the participants and the audience’s sensorial and cognitive performances become an integral part of this corporeal and tangible actualization in the theatrical event. This paper explores the concept of performative atmosphere in the interplay of theatrical technologies and with regard to the complex relations between generation and perception; objectivity and subjectivity; and sensorial, empathetic and cognitive processes of meaning. Drawing on examples from different living history phenomena, I will argue that the performative quality of atmosphere is the central category that accounts for the different gradations of corporeal actualization which participants and audiences of living history performances encounter at events, from both a distant reception to intense immersion experiences.

 

Pallai, Agnes (Sligo Institute of Technology): ‘Seven Stages to the Stage – The Student Actor and the Text’.

Actors read plays and engage with the text in a different way from any other reader. For them the text is not just the playwright’s artistic product offered to a reading public. It is the starting point for a creative journey. The basis, the resource and one of the means to produce their own artefact: the character that they play on stage. Actors have to understand and interpret the text at multiple levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, sensually and psychologically to find the means that would express the meaning they discover. The text is the score for the actor: you have to be able to read music if you play in a symphony orchestra. When staging a show, the director plays a decisive role in guiding the actors to unfold the layers of the text, but in a professional context actors are often required to work on a script on their own. This is particularly true of television where nowadays there can be no rehearsal period. This is a skill that training can develop and we (tutors involved in actor training) have to enable the student actor to grow to be a ‘thinking actor’ – who is able to work on a play text independently to create a character. In this paper, I will examine the actor’s engagement with the text while working on a character for stage. Giving a summary of the actor’s journey I will analyse the process based on my observations in professional theatre and also on my personal experiences in training actors. I will identify typical problem areas and bring examples from my teaching of how I try to address these problems.

 

Phelan, Mark (QUB): “Fair Play”: Recreational Violence and Representation. 

This paper will examine the 19th century phenomenon of faction fighting in Ireland, whereby small localised armies, hundreds, even thousands strong, connected by clan and parish, clashed at fairs, races, patterns, and funerals. Faction fights were considered a form of sport and were part of a wider performative culture of ‘recreational violence’ that helped fashion the image of the fighting Stage Irishman of Punch and the popular stage. This paper will examine how this culture of recreational violence was extinguished by the rapid modernisation of Irish society and the monopolization of political nationalism in post-Famine Ireland, all of which is reflected in the representation of violence, fairs and tinkers in Revivalist drama. This paper will finish with a consideration of how this 19th culture of recreational violence continues in a vestigial form in the feuding of traveller families who are now using modern technology to issue traditional ‘wheels’ or challenges via YouTube for their rivals to fight at forthcoming fairs and races.

 

 

Phelan, Sharon (Tralee Institute of Technology): ‘Pat Ahern – Founder of Siamsa Tíre: A Nomadic Figure in a Theatrical Context’.

When Pat Ahern wrote his ‘Plan for Fostering the Growth of Irish Culture’ in 1972 he planned to: ‘ensure the continuing survival and development of Irish folk culture’ using folk theatre as a medium. Initially, this paper will place the inauguration of Siamsa into a cultural context. Then, the paper will focus on Ahern’s works. Ahern’s critical consciousness was comparable to that of Braidotti’s ‘nomadic figure’. He moved beyond the straightjacket of binary opposition when he placed traditional music, song and dance into a theatrical context and when he intertwined traditional Irish dance with ‘other’ forms and types. Ahern was progressive: ‘cultural identity is constantly evolving, changing. To identify and understand our culture we must understand the processes’ (Ahern: 2004). Finally, Ahern’s view of ‘being Irish’ was neither fixed nor did it reside in the past: it was a ‘feeling’ a ‘dúchas’ a ‘sense of being ourselves’.

 

 

Pilný, Ondřej (Charles University, Prague): ‘Performing Swift: Denis Johnston’.

Playwright Denis Johnston was fascinated by what seem to be central mysteries in the life of Jonathan Swift, with which he engaged on a long-term basis. Having arrived at a radical hypothesis explaining the circumstances of Swift’s personal life, Johnston proceeded to embody it, alternately, in a radio play (“Weep for Polyphemus”, 1938), a stage play (The Dreaming Dust, 1940, revised 1954), and a television play (Weep for the Cyclops, 1947). These were followed by his scholarly elaboration of his findings in the critical study In Search of Swift (1959). This paper examines the structural and other differences necessitated by the shift between different dramatic media, together with those that may have resulted from further research and the gradual maturation of the theme in Johnston’s work

 

Plunkett, Conor (QUB): ‘Dublin Theatre’s First Truly Modernist Play? Sexuality and Masculinity in a Modern Nation – Mary Manning’s Youth’s The Season-?’

In her play, Youth’s the Season-? Mary Manning examines the sexual awakening of a fledgling nation in relation to a new national identity. Manning brings the margins of the nation to the very centre of the action. There is no doubt the Protestant middle-class was politically marginalised in 1930s Ireland and Manning is writing in response to this shift in Irish society. In populating the play with a group of young people to whom cultural nationalism, nation building and the previous decade’s fight for independence mean nothing, Manning investigates the tropes of the modern youth-culture of 1930s Dublin in stark contrast to the narrative of the Free State government and ‘de Valera’s Ireland’. These, however, are the new generation of modern day, post independence, Free State Ireland and a bright new dawn has arrived. This paper will investigate the portrayal of masculinity and sexuality in Youth’s the Season-?, contrasting the portrayal of male characters with other representations appearing on the Dublin stage of the era. It will also look at how Manning used Expressionist techniques to investigate the psyche of its characters and in a large leap for Dublin audiences, the sexuality of this modern youth.

 

 

Price, Graham (UCD): ‘How Can I Speak of the “A” of Earnest?: Wilde’s Differance’.

This paper shall read the concluding sentence of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest beside Jacques Derrida’s seminal essay “Differance”. When the character of Jack Worthing in Wilde’s play declares: “I have realised for the first time in my life, the vital importance of being earnest”, he is calling attention to the integral role that the written word plays in the appreciation of the nuances of language since, up until that point in the drama, the plot had been largely concerned with name of Ernest. Oscar Wilde was thus ironically calling upon the services of the written word in a text intended for oral transmission. It can thus be argued that Wilde anticipated by more than half a century Derrida’s essay that was originally written as a lecture but needs to be read in order to adequately appreciate the distinction between difference and differance. While Wilde’s punning usage of the word “earnest” cannot be perfectly compared with Derrida’s personal linguistic creation, “differance”, which was described by Derrida as being “neither word nor concept”, it shall be argued that both authors are seeking to prove the same point; that language exists in a relationship with both difference and deferral of meaning. Being earnest is thus exposed at the conclusion of Wilde’s play as being an impossible state as a result of the protean nature of language upon which earnestness relies. This premise had been gestured at earlier in the drama by the line: “We are all good until we learn to talk”.

 

 

Quigley, Karen (King’s College London): ‘Towards an ethics of the unstageable.’

Inasmuch as we do and should reach for new ways of representing the event, and new methods of discussing these representations, another possible way to explore what performance might mean for us today is to take previously defined, or perhaps vaguely defined terms and attempt to make them more relevant to theatre and performance of our time. With this principle in mind, my paper endeavours to move towards an exploration of what we mean in 2010 when we attempt to say that something is ‘unstageable’. The word sprang up as an anti-term in the late 19th and 20th centuries and has continued to represent a seeming counter-attack to playwrights from Ibsen to Artaud to Sarah Kane who continued to write for a theatre that struggled to keep up with staging writers’ demands. However, it is rarely examined on its own terms, always in a negative capacity. In 2010, as technology mounts to saturation point, it seems as if there is now very little that we cannot do in terms of stageability, and the idea of the unstageable becomes as interesting philosophically as its use is problematic logistically. So is it possible or feasible to rehabilitate the unstageable? Instead of standing in for words such as ‘difficult’, ‘long’, ‘messy to adapt for the stage’ or ‘expensive’, the previously logistical unstageable may now shift in the direction of an ethics of performance, and an ethical unstageable.

 

 

Rea, Niall (Queen’s University, Belfast): ‘He is Handsome, He is Pretty, the Drag Queens of Belfast City: Fracturing the Ethnosectarian Discourse through the Performance of Gender Disidentification in Northern Ireland.’

This paper will explore the potentials of disorientating affect that transgender performers have harnessed in their subversive Belfast cabaret over the last decade. Three young men have built a fearsome reputation around their classic drag and socio-politically charged banter every Sunday night in a variety of Gay venues in Belfast: Trudy Scruptious (quirky, working class protestant from Rathcool), Tina Legs Tantrum (feisty, working class catholic from the Falls), and Lady Portia Diamante (Co. Down middle class ‘princess’). Their various deconstructive identities defiantly parody the post-conflict ethnosectarian discourse through a marginal world-making enterprise which scrutinizes the dominant hegemony in the North of Ireland. The reflection of the monolithic binary of Protestant/Loyalism and Catholic/Republicanism conflated with an atavistic Ulster ruling class construct in the performative personalities of these three drag artists is crucial to their destabilising capacity. This unsettling potential of gender disidentification was also harnessed by Frank McGuinness in his 1988 play Carthaginians in which the gay character Dido’s alter ego Fionnuala McGonigle writes a scathing playlet called The Burning Balaclava in which the absurdities of the N.I. Troubles are exposed – his female characters are played by men and visa versa. This queer sexual analysis explodes the identity constructs that have been played out in a dysfunctional society; the heteronormative masculinities undermined (from both sides of the community) become signifiers in the hopeful process of finding different ways of living together. I will propose that the desegregating possibilities of the queer identity in N.I. are magnified through these cross gender examinations.

 

 

Reszler, Zita (TCD): ‘The Moral Dilemma of Action and Inaction in Samuel Beckett’s Murphy and István Örkény’s The Toth Family’.

In prior research, Samuel Beckett’s and István Örkény’s respective works and protagonists have been differentiated by characterisations, such as ‘universal’ and ‘inactive’ in Beckett’s case whereas Örkény’s so-called ‘heroes’ were considered ‘local’ and ‘active’. Taking the above-mentioned idea as a starting point, this paper will critically challenge and strive to change this accepted viewpoint by comparing and contrasting the leading characters in Murphy by Samuel Beckett and The Toth Family by István Örkény. Action versus Inaction is going to be analysed through Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory on stages of moral development providing a psychoanalytical framework to the novels and characters in question. His theory states that moral reasoning, being basis for ethical behaviour, has six developmental stages, each more adequate at dealing with moral dilemma than its predecessor. Kohlberg also states that moral development is neither the product of maturation, nor of socialisation. According to his theory, improving from a stage to a further stage emerges from our own thinking about moral problems. However, in this paper, Kohlberg’s theory will not be granted an indisputable nature either. Therefore, I will try and show the problematic nature of ‘labelling’ and ‘pigeonholing’ the characters in question per se.

 

Ruppo, Irina (NUIG): ‘The Abbey Theatre: Home to the Dublin Yiddish Renaissance’.

The paper provides several glimpses into the reception of plays by Jewish authors performed by the members of the Dublin Jewish Dramatic Society at the Abbey Theatre from 1908 to 1928. The story of Jewish amateur performances in Ireland is a forgotten chapter in the history of Irish theatre. Its study offers chance to examine a dialogue between two similar theatrical cultures, each being a reverberation of a pan-European phenomenon yet defined by a sense of its own distinctness. The first part of my paper focuses mainly on the public reactions to of the earliest Yiddish performances in Dublin. The second part, broaching a later period, includes a comparison of two radical responses to national revivalism: J.M.Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World and S. An-sky’s The Dybbuk, performed in English on 13 December 1927.

 

Scaife, Sarah Jane: ‘Abstract for Grieving body through the prism of Beckett’s Act Without Words 11’.

As a practitioner and a scholar I would like to examine my process in terms of Samuel Beckett’s play Act Without Words 11.There have been two phenomenological prisms through which I have been conducting my artistic process for the last twenty years. One is through the writing and theatre of Samuel Beckett and the other is through the prism of drug abuse and the disenfranchisement that it creates.My recent presentation of Act Without Words 11 arose from an intercultural examination of this piece. My production of it in Dublin in 2009 marked the eighth production that I have directed. The other productions were in Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, Greece and China. These other productions and most importantly the performers in them allowed me to see this piece in a new and open manner. I would go so far as to say that this piece was the piece overall that changed my notions of the importance of a ‘Beckettian’ aesthetic or whether that notion was itself a limiting one. In this paper I would like to trace my initial responses to this piece; the consequent pragmatic discoveries that were made through my work with practitioners in Asia; to an analysis of how they informed my production in Dublin. I would also like to analyse it as an artistic response to the grieving that I have felt for loved ones who are or have been through the ravages of drug abuse. The idea for the piece was not something I could control but became an all-consuming process as it burrowed its way into my very bones. My movement became wholly centred on embodying the grief I felt on a daily basis as I watched loved ones struggle with and die from addiction.

 

 

Scheurle, Christoph (University of Hildesheim): ‘The theatre of Rimini-Protokoll as post-epic performances’.  

The work of the German and Suisse-German theatre makers of Rimini-Protokoll can be understood as a laboratory where actual topics are the subject of their theatrical work. For their theatre pieces they cast non-professional actors, whom they call Alltagsspezialisten (‘specialists of everyday-life’). The participants are chosen because of experiences or skills linked to events in their lives that relate to the subject the show deals with. To give an Example, Sven Otto, who represents the character of Wallenstein in Wallenstein – Eine dokumentarische Inszenierung tells about his personal disaster as a mayor-nominee, who did not get the support of his fellow party-members and has to withdraw. In the show the analogies of the fate of Sven Otto and Wallenstein start to intermingle. The performer is not only playing some kind of double-character but shows at the same time the strategies of how to represent political Power. Riminis work can be described as a kind of post-epic Theatre, where the performer keeps up the gesture of showing and fosters his status on stage through his status as an Expert of the topic through his biographical backround. At the same time their shows establish and redefine the genre of documentary theatre anew.

 

 

Schipper, Imanuel (Zurich) ‘Longing for Authenticity’.

In my paper I will focus on the results of an ongoing research project I am leading at the Zurich University of the Arts. The project is an analysis of today’s deal with authenticity in theory and practice in contemporary theatre productions. In recent years the use of this concept to describe some specific kind of theatre productions came up more and more. Many of this productions, that take also place in big state-theatres, use so-called experts or non-professional-actors. Christoph Schlingensief, Rimini Protokoll, Hoffman&Lindholm, Auftrag/Lorey, the Danish Performance Group Signa, and others. They all work with nontrained actors or performers, in order to stage a kind of reality-effect, that could no be done with „real“ performers. What does this desire for »non-theatralic« performances produce? What is the public expecting from »every-day-actors«? What can they give to the public what professionals seem not to be able to? We live nowadays in a time of disintegration of the fantasy of a guaranteed reality (Zizek 2005). Single aspects of our reality can be brought less and less to a complete form, they

remain contradictory and require the constant (playful) authentication. Though whenever ‘authenticity’ emerges as a description of a production, this concept serves as a sort of collecting pot for the large complex of »natural«, »feelings of beeing close« and other effects. Authenticity. What is that? How is it produced? Who is producing it? Is it producible? Why and under what circumstances can we experience it? Why does it seem to exist such a large desire for authenticity in our time? How do these performances interact with this missing of something in the public?

 

 

Shearer, Julie (TCD): ‘Voyage of No Return’.

I would like to present a paper at the conference that examines the centrality of sexuality in contemporary plays about race and the utilisation, either explicitly or implicitly, of racialised sexual stereotypes. As most of these plays are concerned with examining Irish identity in contention with racial prejudice, why does this image of a black African and a white Irish person joined in sexual union so occupy the theatrical imaginations of all these theatre makers, and how does inter-racial sex constitute the answer to questions of Irish identity? In order to answer this question, the argument below contends with Homi Bhaba’s concept of race and sex as the “polymorphous and perverse… mixed economy” of colonial discourse. Beyond voyeurism, this paper utilises Bhabha and Fanon’s theorising of the fetish to examine how fantasies evolved from colonialist stereotypes function in contemporary Irish plays, what they are allegorical to or indicative of in an Irish social context, and what purpose these metaphors and metonyms are put to by the dramatists.   For this purpose, I would like to discuss two plays, Christian O’Reilly’s It Just Came Out (Druid Theatre Company, 2001), whose central character Michael, a gentle, liberal Irish man, inexplicably calls an African woman ‘Nigger!’ in a supermarket. Directly addressing the latent racism in Irish society, this play links the fascination with the Other with a crisis of identity within the Self. Following bell hooks essay ‘Eating the Other’, I argue that the desire for sexual congress with an exotic Other is a desire for transformation, “but a transformation that does not involve relinquishing privilege.”[11] The second play, Brian Campbell’s 2004 Voyage of No Return for DubbelJoint and the West Belfast Festival, is a highly political piece of theatre that addresses both racism in Northern Ireland and, more generally, the collusion of race and desire in the capitalist exploitation of the underdeveloped world. Set on the Caribbean island of Montserrat in two time frames, present day and the 1760’s, it follows two plot lines which seem to operate at either end of the desire/repulsion fetish spectrum. In the contemporary story, a Northern Irish Tourism bureaucrat falls in love with and marries a beautiful local woman, while the relationship in the colonial story is the predictably horrific domination by an Irish slave owner of his African ‘favourite’. Yet this play too is much more than the sum of its parts. Considering the specifically Republian context of DubbelJoint, the West Belfast Festival, and Brian Campbell himself, who spent fifteen years in the Maze prison for terrorism offences, as well as the perception of racism as a Loyalist problem in the North, this play is radical in its portrayal of Irish Catholics as both perpetrators and victims of imperialism, past and present.

 

 

Sheil, Áine (University of York): ‘The opera director’s voice: DVD ‘extras’ and the question of authority’.

Recent DVD releases of opera often contain bonus features, and these occasionally include interviews with a stage director. The voice of the director is captured and fixed alongside his/her production, and a sense of directorial authority is thus disseminated by means of familiar contemporary technology. This authority may be self-effacing – directors often claim fidelity to authorial intentions – but it nonetheless shapes and potentially narrows reception, and in so doing, represents an extension to the cultural work of direction itself. This extension is, however, something of an irony: in particular, it poses a challenge to an underlying premise of Regietheater, namely the questioning of authority and the concomitant acknowledgment of contingency within the interpretative process. This paper will focus on recently released interviews with Peter Brook and Calixto Bieito, examining them as performances in which authority is asserted and assigned. It will also examine the role of these performances and DVD ‘extras’ in general in the transformation of ephemeral performance into text.

 

 

Spangler, Matthew (University of San Jose): ‘Performing Intercultural Hybridity: Alain Destandau’s Antigone Viêt Nam at the Hue Festival in Vietnam’.

This paper will examine Alain Destandau’s Antigone Viêt Nam, a Vietnamese/French, bilingual adaptation of Sophocles’s play set in dynastic-era Vietnam and presented at the 2008 Hue Festival (pronounced Hwā). Performed with a cast of Vietnamese and French actors, the play juxtaposes Vietnamese classical opera (Tuong) with Western performance traditions to create an aesthetic hybrid in the service of critical engagement. Such transcultural theatre productions, particularly those inhabiting the borderland between colonial nations and their former colonies, as this one does, are fraught with ethical challenges of representation. Destandau attempts to navigate these challenges by shaping the performance around two critical commentaries: the first interrogates the long history of gender inequality within Vietnamese society; the second reads the legacy of unequal power dynamics between France, the United States, and Vietnam to offer an alternate narrative for the birth of the modern Vietnamese nation. I argue that while Antigone Viêt Nam flirts with some of the common pitfalls of intercultural theatre, it ultimately seeks to steer clear of them through an incisive critical commentary. This production thereby offers a useful template for artistic practitioners or critical scholars working at the intersection of intercultural performance and postcolonial hybridity. A note on the Hue Festival: the biannual Hue Festival, modeled on similar festivals in Avignon and to a lesser extent Edinburgh, is Asia’s largest performance festival. Founded in 2000, the festival features an impressively wide range of performance companies representing regions from around the world. The small city of Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam prior to French colonization, sits roughly half way between Saigon to the south and Hanoi to the north. Hue, because of its proximity to the former demilitarized zone, also witnessed some of the worst fighting during the American war.

 

 

Tadjimatova, Rayla (UCD): “Theatricality/Metatheatricality and the Theatrical Event”.

In recent years the concept of theatricality has come back into focus and has overcome the usurpation of the category of performance. Recent publications provide a wide range of divergent meanings of theatricality but they also show that the spectator is fundamental to the definition of theatricality, since this theatrical phenomenon comes into operation only by the spectator’s presence. The notion of metatheatricality resonates with the idea of theatricality. Metatheatricality is obviously theatrical but draws specific attention to itself, and reflects theatrical self consciousness. In combination with psychologically and emotionally true acting it creates a layering of representation that impacts powerfully and complexly on audiences. Metatheatrical performance emphasises for the audience the live experience in real time and, therefore, leads to the phenomenon of ‘eventness’ in contemporary theatre. This paper explores some connections of the notions theatricality/metatheatricality with the event notion and their interrelationship. The analysis of this interrelationship aims to offer some input into the process of building a theory of theatricality.

 

 

Taroff, Kurt (QUB): ‘Scene from Within: Monodrama and Virtual Reality’.

In 1908, Nikolai Evreinov, laying out his theory of Monodrama, defining the form as, ‘the kind of dramatic presentation which, while attempting to communicate to the spectator as fully as it can the active participant’s state of mind, displays the world around him on stage just as the active participant perceives the world at any given moment of his existence on stage’.[12] When successful, such a performance would induce in the spectator the illusion that he or she had merged with the protagonist. Over the course of the twentieth century, various critics suggested that Evreinov’s theory was best suited to the medium of film. In a similar vein, science fiction has given us a number of visions of the future that seem to share the same central concept—the ‘televisors’ from Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, the ‘simstim’ in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and the ‘holodeck’ from Star Trek are just a few examples of devices that would place a spectator in a position to see, hear, and feel precisely what an ‘active participant’ is experiencing at any given moment. In the twenty-first century, such science fiction visions have inched toward reality. And while many of the prospective technologies are likely to be utilized by individuals, several theatre directors have seen the opportunity to use Virtual Reality technology in the theatre as a communal experience, and in various ways have brought Evreinov’s theory closer to a full realisation than ever before. This paper will look at several productions since the late twentieth century that pursue a spectator experience proximate to that sought by Evreinov. In so doing it will examine several ethical and theoretical questions surrounding the genre, including the problem of cross-gender or cross-race identification, and, perhaps most notably, the paradoxical relationship between interactivity and narrative form.

 

Troupe, Shelley (NUIG): “Druid Goes to Jail”: Returned Emigrants, Irish Prisoners, and Tom Murphy’s Conversations on a Homecoming’.

In the mid-1980s, Tom Murphy and Druid Theatre entered into an artistic partnership when Murphy became Druid’s Writer-in-Association.   This affiliation resulted in a productive period for both the playwright and the organization including the world premieres of Conversations on a Homecoming and Bailegangaire. Both plays were mounted in 1985, a significant year for Druid in which the company celebrated its tenth anniversary. Subsequent to the play’s opening in Galway, Conversations toured to America, Britain, and Australia as well as various locations in Ireland, including a tour to three Irish prisons. The discovery of this last tour provoked two questions. First, what do a group of prisoners glean from a play about a returned migrant? Second, what was the motivation for a professional company to perform in Irish prisons? I’ll attempt to answer the first question by examining the issues Conversations raises about returned migration such as ostracism and interrupted relationships, and then I’ll consider how these issues relate to prisoners as well. To try to answer the second question, I’ll explore the history of artistic endeavours in Irish prisons as well as Druid’s touring policy at the time of the performances.

 

 

Urban, Eva (UCD): ‘From Derry to the Bahmiyan valley: AH6905-AH7808’.

Duggan’s play and production AH6905 (2005) employs expressionist distancing effects, meta-theatrical enactments, and a performance style close to Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty. It deals with the complexities of truth recovery after the Northern Ireland conflict and has been adapted to the conflict situation in Afghanistan, and successfully staged and toured in Afghanistan as AH7808 by the Afghan theatre practitioner Hjalmar (who initiated this project by contacting Duggan) in 2008. In this paper I will investigate how the dramaturgical options have changed from AH6905 to the site-specific performance of AH7808 in the Bahmiyan valley, where ancient Buddhist statues once stood before being destroyed by the Taliban. Duggan stresses that the two conflict situations cannot be simplistically compared, but that ‘at the human level […] there are very comparable experiences, […] people in war zones will assert a necessity to make theatre or make art.’ This paper will not compare different conflict situations, but instead will illuminate how people make theatre in and about different situations by using the above mentioned exemplary initiatives. I will place my analysis and argument within the framework of utopian theory applied to the relationship between performance and community.

 

 

Walsh, Fintan (TCD): ‘Rites and Rights: The Politics and Paradox of Queer Performance’.

Following the Dublin Pride parade in June 2009, there followed criticism in the media about the performance of the LGBTQ community involved. In particular, writing for the Sunday Times, Barrister and journalist Brenda Powers used the occasion to argue against the provision of marital and adoptive rights to gay people following the publication of the government’s proposed Civil Partnership Bill during the previous month. Much of Power’s argument was built upon a critique of the appearance of the cross-dressed performer, and compère for the day, Miss Panti. Powers opened her appeal to the moral majority with:‘It is not easy for a man to make a serious political point on the shortcomings of the new Civil Partnership Bill while he is wearing half a wedding dress and calling himself Miss Panti.’ And, in another piece published a week later, Powers continued to rally against the ‘silly’ behaviour of those involved. This occasion provides an opportunity to think about the relationship between performance and queer politics in contemporary Ireland. The debate that subsequently played across radio stations, newspapers, blogs and social networking sites was not only sparked off by a mass cultural performance, but it also followed on from a week of theatre and performance events programmed by Calipo and thisispopbaby theatre companies as part of the extended Pride festival. In this paper, I consider how Power’s pointed criticism of a performance – and especially a widely celebrated and community-identified artist – provoked the mobilization of an accelerated performative protest through a range of written, spoken, and virtual acts of resistance, as well as embodied action in the form of public marches, street protest, and sustained activism. I maintain that the occasion marked a unification of LGBTQ people not only in defense of marital and adoptive aspiration, but perhaps more interestingly, and even paradoxically, the right to perform.

 

Whelan, Fergal (UCD): ‘Radio as a space for liturgy in Beckett: A reading of Cascando and Words and Music’

I propose an analysis of Samuel Beckett’s engagement with the medium of radio from his involvement with the recordings and broadcast of his prose works to the creation of his radio-specific drama. I suggest that radio afforded him a process through which the singularly oral nature of his prose work following the war could be transmitted more authentically than through conventional prose publication by the printed page. By contextualizing the nature of radio drama creation at the BBC at the time, in particular at the Third Programme, I hope to demonstrate the existence of a nascent genre of high art that was attractive to Beckett. By assessing the form of the radio works Cascando and Words and Music and in particular their use of music and voice, I wish to demonstrate Beckett’s interest in exploring the idea of his work as liturgy. I contend that although this idea was recurrent in his work, radio offered him a unique forum for its representation. I hope to demonstrate that while his engagement with radio initially appeared to offer Beckett a more liberating and a more apt medium for his aesthetic, his discovery of, what were for him, limitations led to his abandonment of the medium.

 

 

Wilmer, SE (TCD): ‘The Baltic Way as a Performative Act of Political Dissensus’.

Jacques Rancière discusses dissensus as “a division put in the ‘common sense’; a dispute about what is given, about the frame within which we see something as given.” In this paper, I intend to analyse the Baltic Way of August 1989 as an example of political dissensus, “putting two worlds in one and the same world”. On 23 August 1989, a 600 km human chain linked Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius, to condemn the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact on its 50th anniversary. It was a symbolic performance uniting three republics of the Soviet Union in an extraordinary act to denounce the Soviet occupation of three independent nation-states in 1939 and to demand restitution of their sovereign rights. As an embodied performance of national as well as transnational solidarity, it challenged the Soviet interpretation of history, countering the assertion that the Baltic countries entered willingly into the Soviet Union, and demonstrated, through the participation of approximately 2 million people, the popular opposition to Soviet domination. More particularly, it redrew the political geographical map, highlighting national borders between the Baltic countries, which had become only administrative rather than political units, as well as forming a living physical connection between the three Baltic States. By disputing the geo-political frame and “putting two worlds in one and the same world”, the Baltic Way created a visible dissensus, asserting the rights of national citizenship and sovereignty, which had been denied for fifty years, and heralding the demise of the Soviet Union and the iron curtain.


 

[1]Refered to as “the most intense and disquieting body of texts conceived for the twentieth-century stage” by Keir Elam, in Keir Elam, “The dramaticules”, in The Cambridge companion to Beckett, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1974.

[1] The semi-human characters of Play, with “their heads solidly fastened in the mouth of urns” from which they are protruding, or the “hypnotic, mobile and polymorphous ring of Mouth’s narrating mouth” suspended 8 feet above the stage, and detached from its body in Not I are maybe the most striking examples of the semi-human “creatures” that people Beckett’s plays.

[1] Evelyn Grossman, La défiguration : Artaud, Beckett, Michaud, Editions de Minuit, Paris, 2004.

[1] Women Disarmed: The Militarization of Politics in Ireland 1913-23, by Sarah Benton Feminist Review © 1995 Palgrave Macmillan Journals 150.

[2] Charles Marowitz, ‘Los Angeles in Review: Bogeyman,’ in Daniel Mufson, (ed.) Reza Abdoh, (Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 1999), p.100

[3] Joe Nawaz, ‘Theatre Review: Bison’, http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article.aspx?art_id=2919 [2 December 2009].

[4] Émile Zola, “Le Naturalisme au Theatre,”1881, Le Roman experimental trans E. Fasquelle (Paris: 1902)

[5] Szondi, Peter, Theory of the Modern Drama: A Critical Edition, trans. and ed. Michael Hays (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1987)

[6] Percy Fitzgerald, The World Behind the Scenes (London,1881)

[7] Thomas Kilroy, Six Characters in Search of Author in Pirandellos (Loughcrew: Gallery Press, 2007), p. 14.

[8] Holroyd, Michael Bernard Shaw: The Search for Love 1 London: Chatto 7 Windus 1988 p 315

[9] Holroyd, Michael Bernard Shaw: The Search for Love 1 p 315/318

Nugent, Joseph. “The Sword and The Prayerbook: Ideals of Authentic Irish Manliness.” Victorian Studies 50.4 (2008), 607

[11] bell hooks, ‘Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance’, Black Looks: Race and Representation (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1992), pp. 23.

[12] Nikolai Evreinov, ‘Introduction to Monodrama’ in Russian Dramatic Theory from Pushkin to the Symbolists: An Anthology, ed. Laurence Senelick (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 187.

[i]Refered to as “the most intense and disquieting body of texts conceived for the twentieth-century stage” by Keir Elam, in Keir Elam, “The dramaticules”, in The Cambridge companion to Beckett, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1974.

[ii] The semi-human characters of Play, with “their heads solidly fastened in the mouth of urns” from which they are protruding, or the “hypnotic, mobile and polymorphous ring of Mouth’s narrating mouth” suspended 8 feet above the stage, and detached from its body in Not I are maybe the most striking examples of the semi-human “creatures” that people Beckett’s plays.

[iii] Evelyn Grossman, La défiguration : Artaud, Beckett, Michaud, Editions de Minuit, Paris, 2004.