NEI Digital Lecture

07/05/2024 10:39

NEI Digital Lectures aim to discuss aspects of the annual themes explored by Núcleo de Estudos Irlandeses (NEI) at UFSC. 2024 is dedicated to the theme “Places, Spaces and Psychogeographies of Ireland”. 

Stage Sets and ‘theatrical nationhood’ in the Irish Literary Revival

From the early C19th to the opening decades of the C20th cultural-political discourse in Ireland was dominated by opposing connotations of geographical space. As articulated by J.M. Synge, while the west of the country was “fiery and magnificent and tender” the east was “Anglicised and civilised and brutalized.” In the Irish Literary Revival (c.1890-1920) theatre became the primary means of presenting the values of the west as part of the process which Loren Kruger termed “theatrical nationhood”: “summoning a representative audience that will in turn recognize itself as a nation on stage”. Above all this was to be done through stage sets which reproduced the cottages of the west in what Willie Fay, one of the directors of the early Abbey theatre, described as “attempts to make plays real in the photographic sense”. These sets were metonymic in that despite their limited physical dimensions they presented audiences with what nationalists saw as Ireland’s “true” (i.e. not English) reality. Drawing on directors, playwrights, critics and theorists such as the Fay brothers, Douglas Hyde, Arthur Grifith, Michel Foucault, Anne Ubersfeld and Marco Marinis, the paper will outline the economic and ideological bases of stage sets in the Irish Literary Revival, and explore productions which, despite using the appropriate cottage set, still produced hostile audience reactions.

📅 May 28th
🕤 2pm🇧🇷/6pm 🇮🇪
💻 Live on PPGI UFSC YouTube Channel

Chair: Beatriz Kopschitz Bastos (PPGI/NEI/UFSC)


Shaun Richards is Emeritus Professor of Irish Studies at Staffordshire University, UK. A founding member of the British Association for Irish Studies and a long-time member of the executive of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures, he has published articles and chapters in major journals and edited collections, including Modern Drama, Irish University Review, Irish Studies, The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Theatre (2016), The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Irish Theatre and Performance (2018) and Irish Literature in Transition, Vols V and VI (2020). Other significant publications include 50 Key Irish Plays (2022), Contemporary Irish Documentary Theatre (with Beatriz Kopschitz Bastos, 2020), Mapping Irish Theatre (with Chris Morash, 2013), The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century Irish Drama (2006) and Writing Ireland (with David Cairns, 1988).