Suspended Lives: Lucy Caldwell’s Three Sisters in Post-Agreement Belfast

Lucy Caldwell’s 2016 adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters relocates the play into Belfast in the 1990s. This paper examines Caldwell’s adaptation in the context of Irish and Northern Irish rewritings of Chekhov’s dramatic works, paying attention to the motives behind appropriating the Russian works for Irish audiences. Inspired by the perceived affinity between the two seemingly distant cultures, Irish authors have tended to adapt Chekhov (and other Russian classics) to reflect on their own social, cultural, and political environment, often with the aim of shaping the cultural-political landscape of their present. Similarly to earlier Chekhov adaptations, Caldwell’s play engages not only with the original Russian work, but, most importantly, with the cultural-political context of its setting—the five hopeful years preceding the Belfast Agreement (1998), as well as the post-Agreement context of its writing. The play allows its audience in 2016 a complex, retrospective, re-evaluative view of the achievements of the peace process from the vantage point of the early twenty-first century. (ZSCS)

Shifting Perspectives in Adaptations

Book review:

Grossman, Julie. Literature, Film, and Their Hideous Progeny: Adaptation and ElasTEXTity. Adaptation and Visual Culture 1. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 228 pages. ISBN 978-1-137-54205-4. Hb. $99.00.

“Telling My Side of Things”: Tolstoy Novellas into Monologue Drama


The paper examines two drama adaptations of Tolstoy’s novellas, Nancy Harris’s The Kreutzer Sonata (2009) and Peter Reid’s Desire (2014), both recent additions to contemporary Irish theatre’s abundant number of adaptations as well as male monologue plays. The exploration of the adaptation strategies assesses how Harris and Reid engage with these nineteenth-century works so that the old narratives are endowed with new relevance. While Harris’s play, which often rises to a poetic quality, innovates with the use of on-stage live music, it remains set in Russia in the past, which makes it a powerful period piece with anachronistic treatment of the central theme of sexual jealousy. In contrast, Reid’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s novella with a similar theme actualizes and relocates the original, transferring it to Ireland in the present time, and through the changes introduced in the plot and character, the playwright creates a credible psychological landscape for twenty-first-century audiences. (ZsCs)

Never Letting Go: Ways of (Mis)remembering and Forgetting in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Novels

Book review:

Drąg, Wojciech. Revisiting Loss: Memory, Trauma and Nostalgia in the Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014. 211 pages. ISBN 1-4438-6057-3. Hb. £47.99.


The Translation of Contemporary Drama: McCafferty’s Quietly on the Italian Stage

This article explores how spatial and temporal changes are considered as key features by both drama translator scholars and translation theorists and invites reflection on translation in general and the reception of contemporary Irish drama abroad. The comparison of Owen McCafferty’s Quietly and its Italian version demonstrates how the translation/adaptation, staging, and reception of the play in Italy must be considered against the contemporary backdrop of globalization. (MR)

Stephen Daldry’s The Reader in Chekhov’s Mirror

This essay is devoted to a discussion of Stephen Daldry and David Hare’s film adaptation of Bernhard Schlink’s critically acclaimed but controversial Holocaust novel, The Reader (1995; 2008), through one of the film’s many intertexts—Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Little Dog” (1899). The scenes related to this short story are crucial to the understanding of Daldry and Hare’s filmic reinterpretation of Schlink’s novel, since they form the mise en abyme of Hanna and Michael’s ambiguous story and stalled self-reflection. The parallels and contrasts of Chekhov’s and the filmmakers’ narratives call viewers’ attention to the ambivalences inherent in the main characters’ representation. Inspired by a passing reference to Chekhov in Schlink’s novel, the scenes alluding to “The Lady with the Little Dog” provide a metanarrative in The Reader, and, as such, reflect the adaptors’ heightened sensitivity to the ambivalences and complexities of reflecting the trauma of the Holocaust—not only for “the second generation” of Germans after World War II.  (AR)

Screen Writing the Border: Eugene McCabe, RTÉ, and the Victims Trilogy

This essay explores the images and settings of the border narratives in Eugene McCabe’s television screenplays for his Victims trilogy, a three-part series broadcast by RTÉ in 1976. The series was based on McCabe’s own short stories, “Cancer,” “Heritage,” and “Victims”—which became known as the “Fermanagh trilogy”—written separately in the 1970s but published collectively as Christ in the Fields (1993). The essay argues that living on and writing out of his borderlands farm, near Clones, Co. Monaghan, McCabe experienced a condition that I term “borderliness,” which is structured into his writing about this area and the region more widely. I identify this condition by the presence of four thematic tropes that echo and interlace with each other across his screenplays. Making use of archival research in RTÉ, the essay analyzes draft script and screen realization, and supporting production material, focusing on the central, pivotal episode, Heritage, before it reaches its conclusion by drawing on adaptation theory and the conceit of the palimpsest to compare the screenplay and prose fiction versions. (LP)