Interart Relations and Self-Reflexivity in Contemporary Irish Drama

  • Csilla Bertha


This examination of contemporary Irish artist-plays (künstlerdrama), dramatizing artist-protagonists and/or presenting artworks (music, painting, sculpture, or theatre art and performance itself), attempts to illuminate some of the ways in which the different manifestations of the artist and art on stage are integrated into drama and theatrical performance. The discussion focuses on questions of (re)presentation, such as the dramatic and/or structural implications of having an artist protagonist and/or art works in the stage space; how one form of art becomes incorporated into another, how the boundaries between them are kept or transcended, how those art forms interact with each other and, most importantly, how such interactions enhance the self-reflexivity of drama and theatre.

Whether or not the establishment of modern theatre language—the language of space, light, scenography, body and choreography, and frequently other art forms—happened due to the increasing distrust of language’s power, as some theoreticians maintain, I argue that in the Irish intellectual tradition the destabilization of language’s dominance does not necessarily lead to its replacement by other forms of art. Rather, the art of words, together with other art forms, may all participate in interart relationships on the stage, as seen in many contemporary Irish plays. The critical approach focusing on interart relationships helps to highlight how the collaboration of different arts, including rather than substituting verbal language, enhances theatricality. Plays discussed in some detail include Brian Friel’s Faith Healer and Performances; Frank McGuinness’s The Bird Sanctuary and Innocence, Thomas Kilroy’s The Shape of Metal and Blake and Jim Nolan’s Backwater Angel.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Csilla Bertha
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DebrecenDebrecenHungary

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