Mapping Irish Theatre
Irish cottage (or kitchen)….is often the setting of Irish plays!
Writer : Chris Morash, Shaun Richards
Title: Mapping Irish Theatre (175 pg)
- List Reading Challenges 2018
- Monthly reading planning
- Reading Ireland Month
- Masterpost 746 Books (Cathy)
- #NonFicReads18 Doing Dewey (Katie)
Who is Chris Morash?
- Professor Chris Morash is the first
- Professor of Irish Writing
- …in Heaney’s name at Trinity College.
- This appointment is permanent.
- The professorship was announced shortly before Seamus Heaney’s death.
- Dr Morash is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada
- …with no Irish connection.
- He came to Ireland in 1985 to study Irish writing in Trinity.
What is theatre?
- Seamus Heaney put it very simply:
- …theatre is a machine for making place from space.
- Mapping Irish Theatre examines the
- …relationship between a society and its theatre.
- Irish plays are deeply entrenched sense of place.
- Place in Irish theatre involves a particular set of
- …relations to memory, loss and nostalgia.
What did I learn? (…essential to understand if you read this book!)
Three forms of space:
- perceived -to be aware of directly through any of the senses
- conceived –to form or develop in the mind
- lived – to be experienced between the performers and audience
- Space is different from performance to performance.
- Space is different through historical periods.
- Example: I just read Tartuffe.
- It was performed 1669.
- But Chris Hampton’s translation and adaptation
- ..that is to open in May 2018 in London
- …will be very different.
- Elements of language, dialogue, scenery
- …will change over time.
- It is an unspoken element of the text
- a zone filled with gaps where
- … gestures and movements unfold.
What was the most difficult issue to understand? Theatre signals
- The stage radically transforms all objects.
- These objects have a signifying power which
- …they lack in their normal social function.
- All that is on stage is a sign.
- Door = theatrical signal
- For instance in a play…..we see a door.
- It is not only means of entering and leaving the stage.
- It is the focus point.
- Behind it is an imagined offstage world
- …that is just as important as the dramatic action on the stage!
What was the best part of the book? I discovered so many types of plays!
- Padraic Colum’s The Fiddler’s House (1907)
- Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa (1990)
- ….(cottage) kitchen the kitchen- and- sink- play.
- Conor McPherson’s The Weir (1997) a pastoral play
- …our outside concerns are suspended so that an
- act of inner healing to be achieved
- Tom Murphy’s Famine (1977) historical outcome (unknown to characters)
- …but glaringly self-evident to us….famine/depopulation hangs like a cloud.
- Brian Friel’s Freedom of the City (1973) past-in-the-presemt play
- Characters are simultaneously dead and
- …present before the audience!
What will I do now when reading a play…that I didn’t do before?
- Note: notice the first lines of plays….what do they refer to?
- Note: what is implied as happening or a place ‘offstage’ ?
- Note: what is the conflict between offstage vs on-stage?
- Note: important objects on stage…( first character we meet in
- …Dancing at Lughnasa is is Marconi…the radio!
- Note: space on the stage: is it familiar to the characters?
- …home kitchen in The Aran Islands (Synge)
- …exiles in an abandoned church in Sanctuary Lamp (1975) T. Murphy
- The characters have to learn about the space along with the audience.
- This was a very academic read.
- Difficult way of saying things…!
- Morash: Play produced dialogically…
- Nancy: ….in other words …written in dialogue.
- How else are you supposed to write a play? (pg 115)
- It took me 3 days to read the book and my
- determination paid off.
- I never realized that a play is MUCH more
- …than a script and actors!
- Chapters 2-3-4-5 were the best.
- Morash explains in more detail specific Irish plays and
- …that was what I was looking for!
- The central to the craft of play-writing (Irish)
- …is the shaping of experience into scenes.
- Opening of a play and starting to read it
- … is like going to a party where you don’t know anyone.
- Characters unfold in time and
- …first impressions will be modified by later ones!
Did you know there are 3 types of theater spaces?
Arena – audience surrounds the actors
Thrust – audience is positioned on 3 sides of the stage ( Ancient Greece)
Proscenium – the arc of the stage seperates the actors from the audience
The Abbey Theatre Dublin:
- The theatre first opened its doors to the public
- …over a hundred years ago, back in 1904.
- The original building was damaged by fire in 1951 and
- the Abbey had to be re-located but still remained active.
- The theatre offers a unique sound experience
- due to its wooden pallets, which are
- not obtainable anymore and can only be
- found in a few remaining locations worldwide.
- The Abbey holds 394 seats, that all share the same view.
- The idea was to get rid of the social hierarchy and
- guarantee every audience member the same experience.