Theatre History Podcast # 24

Exploring Plays About Urban Ireland with Dr. Elizabeth Mannion

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Most stereotypes of Ireland have more to do with idyllic rural scenes than busy city life. But, as Beth Mannion points out in her book, The Urban Plays of the Early Abbey Theatre: Beyond O’Casey, there’s an entire sub-genre of plays depicting life in major cities like Dublin in the early 20th century. The most famous of these are the plays in Sean O’Casey’s trilogy (The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock, and The Plough and the Stars), but O’Casey was just one small part of a much wider and richer body of work by Irish playwrights who reflected what it was like to live in urban Ireland.

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I'm currently reading "Sacred Play: Soul-journeys in Contemporary Irish Theatre", by Anne F. O'Reilly because it is one of the few books on theater which considers the spiritual aspects of plays. This has required me to read a lot of plays by unfamiliar Irish playwrights. My favorite so far has been Marina Carr who writes very dark plays. She gets an entire chapter in the book.

How wonderful to hear such insight into the tension between the urban and the rural worlds of Ireland. And with references to so many other Irish plays that were groundbreaking and/or representative at that time. Much food for thought. Thank you Dr. Mannion and Michael Leuger for this nugget of gold podcast.