Performing the Body in Irish Theatre by Bernadette Sweeney (auth.)

By Bernadette Sweeney (auth.)

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Objections to the play during its first run were on both Nationalist and moral grounds and were taken up by the national press. However, the production continued to attract good houses. Subsequent productions include the 1991 Abbey production directed by Garry Hynes; here the stark expressionistic staging was strongly reacted against by traditionalists, but served to cast the play in a new light. Hynes’ experimentation with the play suggests a reinvigoration of O’Casey’s vision, but some negative reactions to this production highlight the sacrosanct position of the text over the exciting potentials of the stage.

Further stages in the creative process are realised, often beyond the reach of the playwright, as in the rehearsal process where a work can move far beyond a playwright’s intentions with input from designers, directors, choreographers, musicians and actors. Audience members bring their own interpretations and reactions to a play The Absent Body? Performing Tradition 23 in the theatre. Participation in the process is not always an option for, or desired by, the playwright. The play can also live long after the playwright, which especially problematises the playwright’s role in the process!

Audience members bring their own interpretations and reactions to a play The Absent Body? Performing Tradition 23 in the theatre. Participation in the process is not always an option for, or desired by, the playwright. The play can also live long after the playwright, which especially problematises the playwright’s role in the process! The staging of performance rituals and traditions in a postcolonial Ireland raises many issues. Why have the playwright, director and/or actors chosen to do so? And what reactions, if any, are engendered in the audience?

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