#ReadingIrelandMonth21 Ulster American
- Author: David Ireland (1976)
- Title: Ulster American
- Published: 2018
- Genre: Satire play
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- This is a one Act single setting “pressure-cooker ” play.
- Ulster American is set in an apartment where an
- Oscar-winning actor, an ambitious English director (both male)
- …and a female Northern Irish playwright meet to discuss a play.
- A bloodbath ensues from a Hollywood actor’s
- attempt to turn a Protestant playwright’s script
- …into a celebration of the IRA.
- Ulster American is a challenging satire that
- …exposes the hypocrisies and ritual abuses of those in power.
- How would I describe Ulster American in just four words?
- Political. Provocative. Bloody. Brutal.
- It is a queasy-making power-play drama.
- No plot, text filled with sound-bite clichés.
- Characters have zero depth.
- No twist, no story only crass shock and conflict.
- Not a single thing to cherish in this play.
- Jay Conway – male, 40s American actor
- Leigh Carver – male, 40s English director
- Ruth Davenport – female, 30s Northern Irish playwright
- London, Leigh’s living room (Sunday Evening)
- on the eve of rehearsals for a West End play.
- Jay and Leigh discuss several subjects.
- “Staccato” dialogue (between Jay and Leigh Act 1…until Ruth enters)
- is where you speak in fragments of short sentences and
- is how people truly talk and communicate.
- Jay and Leigh jump from one subject to another
- racism? women? nationality? religion? UK monarchy? feminism? rape?
- By reading the stage directions you can feel the tension between the two men.
- They prowl the stage….in macho madness.
Enter Ruth (38%)
- Introductions all around.
Exit Leigh (41%)
- Now Ruth and Jay talk Hollywood trivia ( Jack Lemmon, Quentin Tarantino,
- …Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, favorite movie?
- …again “staccato dialogue”…a bit boring, to be honest.
- This type of conversation is a quick read but reveals little about the characters.
Enter Leigh..with glass of wine (43%)
- Conversation continues.
Exit Jay (46%)
- They discuss Jay the crass, petulant American Oscar-winning
- actor of Irish Catholic descent.
- As David Ireland writes: “…sounding like a “Belfast Dick Van Dyke”.
- Ruth is determined to “…protect my f***ing play!”
Enter Jay (50%)
- He just talked to his AA sponsor on the telephone. (character info)
Exit Leigh (52%)
- Jay and Ruth start analyzing the play.
Enter Leigh…with more drinks (53%)
- Leigh and Ruth start the production process of a ‘run-through with Jay.
- They try to explain what Northern Ireland Irish sounds like
- why Brexit is or is not relevant…and what is Ulster unionism?
- First monologue: (59%)
- Ruth focuses her attention on “The Troubles”.
- Again…Ruth defends her play: “I’m not rewriting anything!”
- …no eye-patch, Irish dancing or pigs!
- Second monologue: (71%)
- Jay displays his Oscar Academy Award to boost his
- …influence about making changes in the play.
- Third (very long) monologue (74%)
- Leigh tries to find some common ground between Ruth and Jay….
- ..it’s not easy!
Exit Ruth (80%)
- Leigh try to be the peacemaker
- between volatile Jay and stubborn Ruth.
Enter Ruth …with her phone (81%)
- Sign of the times….Ruth threatens Jay with a “blackmail tweet”!
- Ruth plays hard-ball!
- Agree to her terms….then she won’t send the tweet!
Turning point in the play (85%)
- Ruth answers her phone
- ….she is lost in her thoughts.
Exit Ruth into the bathroom
Enter Ruth…after a few minutes
- Now the tables have turned.
- Leigh and Ruth have a serious discussion.
Fight. Blood. Attack. Tweet sent
…the curtain falls.