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“Literature on the Edge”: Austro-Modernism of the Long War
Published February 1, 2021

Book review:

Perloff, Marjorie. Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2016. 204 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-226-05442-1. Hb. $23.98.

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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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Old Age and Aging: Presence and Absence in the Plays of Brian Friel
Published June 28, 2020

Old age and aging may not seem an immediate priority in Brian Friel’s drama, yet several plays feature memorable characters of old, elderly, aging, or declining people, whose presence on stage is occasionally revealed through their absence. The growing cultural visibility of older people contrasts with their invisibility as useless members of... society: they are physically present, yet invisible. In Friel’s dramaturgy, this arouses reflection on the role of old age absent from the mimetic space and relegated to the diegetic space offstage; absence as a theatrical device marks offstage characters as potential catalysts for action. If in some plays elderly characters remain in the background, in others they become pivotal to dramatic construction, ranging from dominant figures like Columba in The Enemy Within (1962), to tyrannical ones such as Manus in The Gentle Island (1971) and Father in Aristocrats (1979), to social outcasts in The Loves of Cass McGuire (1967) and Dancing at Lughnasa (1990). This essay considers the variety of ways in which Friel introduces or openly deals with the issues of aging and of old age through stagecraft and varied dramatic choices as well as the manipulation of mimetic and diegetic space in terms of presence and absence in particular. (GT)

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