By Michael Etherton (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0312016956

ISBN-13: 9780312016951

ISBN-10: 0333409299

ISBN-13: 9780333409299

ISBN-10: 1349200182

ISBN-13: 9781349200184

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Rudkin claimed that the dramatist translated personal life-experiences into 'metaphors of public political value to mankind'. Yet, like the plays we considered of Hugh Leonard and Stewart Parker, which show only a political awareness rather than a political commitment or intent, Rudkin's own dramatic structures work against a politicised drama. Rather than a political commitment to Northern Ireland, his two Ulster plays of the early 1970s return us to the Romantic paradigm of the search for the true self- Ibsen's Peer Gynt peeling away of the onion layers of 'Selfhood'.

The only thing that can work by way of a conclusion is a theatrical reference to an earlier piece of theatrical escapism. The objective reality, to which a piece of theatre might refer in seeking to make representations of it on the stage, is never complete. Interim solutions may emerge, things come together, tragedies occur: they all immediately raise new situations and new problems. The logical outcome of fracturing the narrative of a play text with an intrusive and undermining political reality would be to abandon the text and allow the play simply to end.

The logical outcome of fracturing the narrative of a play text with an intrusive and undermining political reality would be to abandon the text and allow the play simply to end. Audiences tend to find this unsatisfactory. A grim reality of poverty or violence in their lives often predisposes them towards a theatre where the text (narrative, character, theatricality and style) remains optimistically sealed against an external reality. When the external world is allowed to threaten the validity of the interior fictions of the play, audiences still expect an aesthetic completeness.

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Contemporary Irish Dramatists by Michael Etherton (auth.)


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