Placed within a rich social, historical and cultural context, this study illuminates the Irish theatre over three hundred years, as it mutated from aristocratic control to radical dissent and subversion. Early Irish theatre was the Anglo-Irish talking to themselves, as the playwrights engaged the ruling class in a dialogue as to how the country should be ordered. As the Ascendancy lost or relinquished control over the theatre, the image presented by the playwrights became more unflattering and dismissive. Slowey studies how this portrait of Irish society and its rulers was encoded and evolved in the plays of the three centuries from 1600 to the foundation of the Abbey Theatre. It shows how the plays traced the continually mutating Ascendancy, the growing self-consciousness and national self-awareness, and a developing classconsciousness among Irish playwrights.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Role and Image of the Ascendancy in the Irish Theatre
1. Enter the ‘Nobility and Gentry’
2. Politics and Pageantry: Restoration Theatre in Ireland
3. The Generous and the Mercenary; or, the Qualities of the Quality
4. ‘The Ruling Follies of this Spacious Town’: Charles Shadwell’s Irish Comedies
5. Cultural Colonization: Summoning ‘Hibernia’
6. The Humours of Hibernia
7. Radical Shifts
8. Picturesque Ruins: Boucicault’s Irish Plays
9. ‘Opening the Future’: The Politicization of Irish Melodrama
About the Author
Desmond Slowey taught for forty years in Dublin’s inner-city. He was awarded an M.A. in Theatre Studies in 2001 and Ph.D in 2006. He has had a lifelong interest in the theatre, as spectator, actor and director.