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Aging and Death in Edward Albee’s The Sandbox and Tennessee Williams’s The Milktrain Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
Published June 28, 2020

With focus on the tropes of aging and death in Edward Albee’s The Sandbox (1960) and Tennessee Williams’s The Milktrain Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (1963), the essay investigates the negotiation of the protagonists’ identity through specters of age and the means of encountering death, and it analyzes the representation o...f the dramas’ senior citizens with special regard to the ways in which these characters challenge mainstream cultural constructions of aging. On their deathbed, both Albee’s and Williams’s protagonists are reconnecting with their pasts in idiosyncratic ways: they build up a conscious “age autobiography” (Margaret Morgenroth Gulette) in an inventory of events and feelings assessing a complete(d) life and achieve an “agewise” (Gulette) identity that comes full circle in the very moment of grace. The characters who escort these two elderly women on their last journey reconceptualize the sense of intimacy between people. The dialogic potential of their empathy, care, and unconditional support during the end-game of the protagonists accommodates difference in various contexts by blurring the boundary between the old and the young as well as the one between men and women, because death has neither age nor gender. Thus, these intergenerational exchanges help elder characters’ agewise enterprises into the unknown gain a cathartic sense of freedom. (RMC)

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The Female Gentleman and the Myth of Englishness in the Detective Novels of Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham
Published June 28, 2020

Golden Age detective fiction by women offers insights into the competing gender ideologies of the 1930s and early 1940s. The female protagonist these novels delineate is called “the female gentleman” by Melissa Schaub, who describes her as the detective’s equal based on her intellectual abilities and independence. Although the female gent...leman seems a revolutionary figure as she is forward-looking in gender politics, her strong belief in class hierarchy, her Victorian morals and relationship with the gentleman detective relocate her in the heritage of the English pastoral. This essay focuses on the female gentleman as a bridge figure whose marriage to the detective not only restores him to his masculinity but also portrays the woman embedded in the pastoral idyll of the English landscape. Her decision to accept traditional femininity reinforces the female gentleman’s role in the recreation of the stability and security of pre-war England. (RZs)

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“What stood in the Post Office / With Pearse and Connolly?”: Heroism, Timeliness, and Timelessness in Some of Yeats’s Plays
Published June 26, 2020

The essay discusses a frequently recurring type of hero found in William Butler Yeats’s plays, including the last one, The Death of Cuchulain (1939). This hero-figure occurs quite early in Yeats’s oeuvre: The Green Helmet (1910), for example, already focuses on the definition of hero and heroism and different versions of t...his hero type also occur in other plays, such as The King’s Threshold (1904) and The Player Queen (1922). In dramas, where this motif plays an important role, his source is in part Nietzsche’s tragic hero completed with other features. As early as The Green Helmet, Yeats defines what makes a hero: apart from bravery, also gaiety, a kind of ecstasy is needed. Cuchulain’s goal to become the hero, smiling even in the shadow of death, is achieved in Yeats’s last play, and the Cuchulain-image emerging from the Anima Mundi binds past and present. (EB)

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Performing on the Razor’s Edge: On the Aesthetics of the Theatre of Martin McDonagh
Published June 26, 2020

Since the emergence of naturalism in the theatre in the last decades of the nineteenth century the reality of an action on the stage has been put into a new context. The previous tradition of performance characterized by artificial, schematic solutions in gestures and speaking was replaced by direct presentation. Performance pretended that real... events were taking place in an artificial, stylized context; that is, within the framework of the theatre. The first part of the essay discusses the connection between theatre and violence, starting from a historical and philosophical context and arriving at an aesthetic perspective which regards violence as a challenge for the theatrical representation. The second part studies stage violence in the plays of Martin McDonagh with the primary example of The Lieutenant of Inishmore. The third part summarizes the Hungarian reception of The Lieutenant of Inishmore and compares two productions which handle the staging of natural and brutal scenes quite differently. As the whole play has a metatheatrical feature, confronting theatre with the general problem of theatrical representation, it is relevant to see how this challenge is handled by the productions reviewed. (PPM)

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"The Very Seeds of Fire”: Chris Lee’s The Map Maker’s Sorrow
Published June 26, 2020

Chris Lee’s The Map Maker’s Sorrow (1999), produced at the Abbey Theatre only six years after Ireland decriminalized suicide, proved prescient in focusing on this national health problem among the young. The very structure of the play mirrors the fragmentation and messy aftermath that suicide almost inevitably produces. The abrupt ...beginning, where a character that the audience does not know and cannot know kills himself, leaves the audience in a position similar to that of survivors who find a suicide. Drawing on the work of Ludwig Binswanger, Kay Renfield Jamison, and national studies of suicide the essay argues that young Jason’s suicide represents a direct challenge to life understood as an orderly progression from birth to death and as an attempt to deny the very premise of lived life itself. (DEM)

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“. . . ultimately alone and walking around in your own private universe”: Metatheatre and Metaphysics in Three Plays by Enda Walsh
Published June 26, 2020

This paper analyzes Enda Walsh’s three major new plays between 2006 and 2014: The Walworth Farce (2006), Penelope (2010), and Ballyturk (2014). In this period Walsh’s work shifts from being primarily linguistically oriented to becoming much more attentive to the shape and modalities of performance. Bedbound...m>, Misterman, The Small Things, and The Walworth Farce share a focus on aberrant and confining narrative performance, but a fault line lies between The Small Things and The Walworth Farce. The frenetic pace and surreal tone of the plays remains constant; however, there is a crucial difference in emphasis between carrying on and carrying out such a performance. In this new phase in Walsh’s dramaturgy an elaboration of ritualized, repetitive, and carefully choreographed action in symbolically charged spaces is accompanied by the fragmentation of mimetic and diegetic readability. At the heart of this work is a fundamental set of anxieties. The Walworth Farce, Penelope, and Ballyturk, each in different ways, are plays about performance and performativity vis à vis creativity and death. (CW)

 

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The Plays of Enda Walsh: An Interim Report
Published June 26, 2020

Ever since Disco Pigs hit the headlines at the Edinburgh Festival in 1996, Enda Walsh has achieved major success at home, on the Irish stage, and worldwide. This essay acknowledges that the body of his work to date, comprising nineteen plays plus collaborations in musicals and operas, still represents work in progress and that it is no...t feasible yet to provide anything like a definitive assessment or interpretation. It is argued, nevertheless, that the work may be situated within the Irish dramatic tradition and contemporary modes of performance. While Walsh seeks always to entertain through meta-theatre, his plays owe much not only to Beckett but also to youth theatre, especially to the style of Passion Machine, to story-telling techniques, and to clowning, farce, and rock music. Certain serious themes recur, such as alienation, private versus public space, and death, which place Walsh in a category beyond “just play.” As scriptwriter for David Bowie’s last show, Lazarus, staged in New York in December 2015, he may be moving towards a synthesizing of ideas, style, and theme, thus moving collaboration to a new level. (CM)

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Wonder vs. Sublime in Romantic and Postmodern Literature
Published February 1, 2021

Book review:

Economides, Louise. The Ecology of Wonder in Romantic and Postmodern Literature. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. vii + 214 pages. ISBN 978-1-137-47750-7. E-book. $84.99.

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Death onto Life—A Guide to Edward Albee
Published June 24, 2020

Book review:

Roudané, Matthew. Edward Albee: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2017. 200 pages. ISBN 978-0-521-72695-5. Pbk. £14.99.

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Experiments with Realism in Irish Language Short Stories by Daithí Ó Muirí
Published June 24, 2020

Relying on Joseph McMinn’s statement that the connection between realist and non-realist fiction is not a hierarchical relationship, this essay maintains that realism in Irish language fiction is, and has always been, an energizing force for experimentation. This is nowhere more evident than in the work of writer Daithí Ó Muirí (1954-), a ...native English speaker now residing in an Irish speaking area in Ireland. Much of Ó Muirí’s work is experimental due to his use of allegory and fantasy, yet many of the stories remain rooted in the realities of the world, particularly in his representations of masculinities and in works concerning the impact of war, violence, and displacement on men’s lives. The essay examines Ó Muirí’s first three collections, Seacht Lá na Díleann (1998), Cogaí (2002), and Uaigheanna agus Scéalta Eile (2002), in which he explores subjects that are classically realistic: war, death, religion, and relationships between men and women. The essay explores how Ó Muirí’s work often combines realism and magic realism, and shows that Ó Muirí’s fiction provides a fresh if somewhat bleak narrative of 21st century realism in Irish language prose fiction.

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