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Staging the Memoryscape of Middle-Class Ireland

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Abstract

Speaking in Chicago in 1963, Taoiseach Sean Lemass described Ireland as a nation already transitioned into industrial and economic prominence—a vision that was in itself a performance of modernity. This development was reflected in two major supporting facets: the modernisation of the Irish landscape from a passive to an industrially productive asset, coupled with the emergence of a prosperous and educated middle class, in support of the national modernisation project. The chapter will investigate, through examining newly digitised and released performance records, correspondence, unpublished essays and speeches of playwright Hugh Leonard, how the physical and economic development of Ireland was satirised and critiqued through innovative dramaturgy and the questioning of time and place on stage. This chapter further explores the dramaturgy of staging the Irish landscape within a time of social and economic flux. Also drawing on works by Tom Murphy (Famine) and staging of fractured time and place presents complexities in dramatic form that challenged the development of modern Ireland.

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Fig. 6.1
Fig. 6.2
Fig. 6.3

Notes

  1. 1.

    “Taoiseach addresses Chicago leaders”, Irish Times, 15 October, 1963, 5.

  2. 2.

    Hugh Leonard, Kill, Introduction (Galway: Campus Publishing, 1995), 3.

  3. 3.

    Fintan O’Toole, “Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks: 1973—Da, by Hugh Leonard”, Irish Times, 19 December 2015. https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/modern-ireland-in-100-artworks-1973-da-by-hugh-leonard-1.2471045 Accessed 12 January 2018.

  4. 4.

    Dedicated chapters on Leonard include “Leonard’s Progress: Hugh Leonard at the Dublin Theatre Festival” by Emilie Pine and published in the book Interactions: Dublin Theatre Festival 1957–2007. Grene, Nicholas and Lonergan Patrick, with Chambers, Lillian, eds. (Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2008); Lisa Coen, “Urban and Rural Theatre Cultures: M.J. Molloy, John. B. Keane and Hugh Leonard”, in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Theatre, Nicholas Grene, Nicholas, and Chris Morash, eds. (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016). Christopher Murray dedicated detailed attention to Leonard in his chapter “A Generation of Playwrights” published in Mirror up to the Nation: Twentieth Century Irish Drama (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997, 1997).

  5. 5.

    Christopher Murray, Twentieth Century Irish Drama: Mirror Up to the Nation (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), 162.

  6. 6.

    ‘Playwright with full mastery of his craft’, Irish Times, 14 February 2009. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/playwright-with-full-mastery-of-his-craft-1.700514 Accessed 16 December 2016.

  7. 7.

    Chris, Morash, A History of Irish Theatre 1601–2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 249.

  8. 8.

    Thomas Kilroy, “The Irish Writer: Self and Society, 1950–1980”, in Literature and the Changing Ireland, ed. Peter Connolly (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1980), 179.

  9. 9.

    Kilroy (1980, 178).

  10. 10.

    Julia Furay and Redmond O’Hanlon, Critical Moments: Fintan O’Toole on Modern Irish Theatre (Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2003), 297.

  11. 11.

    Eric Weitz, The Power of Laughter: Comedy and Contemporary Irish Theatre (Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2004), 2.

  12. 12.

    Critical Moments: Fintan O’Toole on Modern Irish Theatre, Furay, Julia, and O’Hanlon, Redmond, eds. (Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2003) 297.

  13. 13.

    Leonard, Home Before Night, 1979, 37.

  14. 14.

    Summer was premiered in America by the Hudson Theatre Guild at the Olny Theatre, Maryland. The play received an Irish premiere at the Olympia Theatre, 7 October 1974, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

  15. 15.

    Ibid., 55.

  16. 16.

    Hugh Leonard, Foreword, in Orders and Desecrations: The Life of the Playwright Denis Johnston, Rory Johnston, ed. (Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1992), vii.

  17. 17.

    Ibid., viii.

  18. 18.

    Leonard further said that Denis Johnston belonged neither to the tradition of the Gate Theatre nor to that of the Abbey Theatre.

  19. 19.

    Ibid., viii.

  20. 20.

    MS 41/960 (2), “The Unimportance of Being Irish”, Hugh Leonard Papers, NLI, Dublin, 10.

  21. 21.

    Grene (1999, 265).

  22. 22.

    MS 41,960 (2), “The Unimportance of Being Irish”, Hugh Leonard Papers, NLI, Dublin, 11.

  23. 23.

    Leonard (1989, 186).

  24. 24.

    Thomas Kilroy, “A Generation of Playwrights”, Theatre Stuff: Critical Essays on Contemporary Irish Theatre, ed., Eamonn Jordan (Dublin: Carysfort Press 2000), 2.

  25. 25.

    Ibid., 2.

  26. 26.

    Leonard took up a role with Granada Television as a script editor in Manchester in 1961, before moving to London to work as a freelance writer in 1963.

  27. 27.

    James Joyce, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Modern Library, 1928). 238.

  28. 28.

    Hugh Leonard Obituary, The Guardian, 13 February 2009. https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2009/feb/13/hugh-leonard-obituary Accessed 23 January 2017.

  29. 29.

    Emile Pine, Leonard’s Progress: Hugh Leonard at the Dublin Theatre Festival, Interactions: Dublin Theatre Festival 1957–2007 (Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2007), 48.

  30. 30.

    The play was first written in 1948 and produced by an amateur company in November 1950.

  31. 31.

    “First performance of new play at the Abbey Theatre”, Irish Times, 21 January 1956, 3

  32. 32.

    “First performance of new play at the Abbey Theatre”, Irish Times, 21 January 1956, 3.

  33. 33.

    The play was also produced at the Eblana Theatre, Dublin City, 19 September 1960, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. “A Walk on the Water at the Eblana”, Irish Times, 20 September 1960, 5.

  34. 34.

    MS 41, 954 / 1 Script of A Walk on the Water, Hugh Leonard Papers, NLI, Dublin, 1–2.

  35. 35.

    Ibid.

  36. 36.

    ‘A Walk on the Water, at the Eblana’, Irish Times, 20 September 1960, 5.

  37. 37.

    Ibid.

  38. 38.

    MS41, 954 (1), Script, A Walk on the Water, Hugh Leonard Papers, NLI, Dublin, 1–13.

  39. 39.

    P103/433, letter from Aidan Higgins to Thomas Kilroy, 10 October 1974, Thomas Kilroy Archive, JHL, NUI Galway.

  40. 40.

    Terence Brown, Ireland: A Social and Cultural History 1922–2001 (London: Harper Collins, 2010), 248.

  41. 41.

    Ken Taylor, Archer St. Clair and Nora J. Mitchell, eds., Conserving Cultural Landscapes: Challenges and New Directions (New York: Routledge, 2015), x–xi.

  42. 42.

    Ken Taylor, Archer St. Clair and Nora J. Mitchell, eds., Conserving Cultural Landscapes: Challenges and New Directions (New York: Routledge, 2015), xi.

  43. 43.

    Taylor et al., xii.

  44. 44.

    Taylor et al., 182.

  45. 45.

    Julian Smith, in Taylor et al., 185.

  46. 46.

    Ibid.

  47. 47.

    Ibid.

  48. 48.

    For more about advertising and the Abbey Theatre programmes see Patrick Lonergan, “The academic impact of the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive”, at NUI Galway Symposium, Digitising the Abbey Theatre Archive—Journey and Destination, https://digital.library.nuigalway.ie/islandora/object/nuigalway%3A5395 Accessed 12 November 2020.

  49. 49.

    T1/4/285 programme, Gorta, translated by Mick Lally, from Famine by Tom Murphy, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe Archive, JHL, NUI Galway.

  50. 50.

    “Demolition and Development of The Liberties”, RTÉ ‘Seven Days’, 8 February 1974, http://www.rte.ie/archives/2014/0715/630841-liberties-festival/ Accessed 19 February 2017.

  51. 51.

    ‘Wednesday Report’, RTÉ, 14 January 1970. http://www.rte.ie/archives/2014/0114/497696-hume-street-occupation-1970/ Accessed 19 February 2017.

  52. 52.

    Maxwell (1984, 172).

  53. 53.

    “Play by Hugh Leonard at Olympia”, Irish Times, 08 October 1974, 10.

  54. 54.

    Ibid.

  55. 55.

    Hugh Leonard (1992, 235).

  56. 56.

    Tom Murphy, “The Sanctuary Lamp”, Tom Murphy Plays: 3 (London: Methuen Drama, 1994), 138.

  57. 57.

    Murphy (1994, 156).

  58. 58.

    Leonard (1992, 238).

  59. 59.

    Ibid., 271.

  60. 60.

    Ibid.

  61. 61.

    Ibid., 272.

  62. 62.

    Ibid., 272.

  63. 63.

    Ibid., 282.

  64. 64.

    Ibid., 293.

  65. 65.

    Ibid., 295.

  66. 66.

    Erika Hanna, Modern Dublin: Urban Change and the Irish Past, 1957–1973 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013), 2.

  67. 67.

    Leonard (1992, 89).

  68. 68.

    Ibid.

  69. 69.

    Abbey Theatre Digital Archive, Production Notes for Da, NUI Galway, ADM_00001322, p. 70.

  70. 70.

    Leonard (2002, 4).

  71. 71.

    Leonard (2002, 3).

  72. 72.

    Leonard (2002, 73).

  73. 73.

    Erika Hanna, 2–3.

  74. 74.

    Erika Hanna, 142.

  75. 75.

    Fintan O’Toole, ed., Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 2016).

  76. 76.

    Leonard, 1992, 167 (italics added by author).

  77. 77.

    Da Review, Irish Press, 24 June 1983.

  78. 78.

    Leonard (1992, 219).

  79. 79.

    Leonard (2002, 32).

  80. 80.

    MS 41/960 (2), “The Unimportance of Being Irish”, Hugh Leonard Papers, NLI, Dublin.

  81. 81.

    Murray (1997, 183).

  82. 82.

    Maxwell (1984, 175–176).

  83. 83.

    P103/546, Three Year Artistic Policy submitted to Abbey Theatre, Thomas Kilroy papers, JHL, NUI Galway.

  84. 84.

    Leonard had three plays staged at the Abbey Theatre in the previous four years—Time Was (1976, 1977), Stephen D (1978) and A Life (1979).

  85. 85.

    P103/546, Minutes of Abbey Theatre Literary Department; 1978; Thomas Kilroy papers, James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway.

  86. 86.

    Leonard (1987, 6).

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Houlihan, B. (2021). Staging the Memoryscape of Middle-Class Ireland. In: Theatre and Archival Memory. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-74548-6_6

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