Three Dublin Plays The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock, and the Plough and the Stars

ISBN-10: 0571195520
ISBN-13: 9780571195527
Edition: 1998
List price: $16.00 Buy it from $3.00
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Description: This volume contains the three plays commonly recognized as the height of O'Casey's achievement as a playwright. His tragi-comedy has relevance to the violent politics in the North and the post-nationalist bewilderments in the Republic.

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Book details

List price: $16.00
Copyright year: 1998
Publisher: Faber & Faber, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/20/2000
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 264
Size: 5.00" wide x 7.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.132
Language: English

This volume contains the three plays commonly recognized as the height of O'Casey's achievement as a playwright. His tragi-comedy has relevance to the violent politics in the North and the post-nationalist bewilderments in the Republic.

Unlike the directors of the Abbey Theatre, Sean O'Casey was slum-born and bred, self-educated, and deeply involved in the political and labor ferment that preceded Irish independence. His famous group of realistic plays produced at the Abbey form, in effect, a commentary on each stage of the independence movement. The melodramatic The Shadow of a Gunman (1923), the first to be staged, deals with the guerrilla war conducted by the IRA until the peace treaty was signed in 1921. Juno and the Paycock (1925), cast in the mold of classic comedy, describes the civil war and failure of hopes that followed the settlement. The last to be produced, The Plough and the Stars (1926), set off howls of resentment by returning to the Easter 1916 uprising itself, and condemning the vanity of the nationalists and the dogmatism of labor, who squabble while Dublin, in the person of its women, suffers martyrdom. It was expected that the Abbey audience would be unsympathetic. However, when even the Abbey management, in the person of W.B. Yeats, turned against the antiwar play, The Silver Tassie (1928), O'Casey (who had already taken up residence in London and married) determined to remain in "exile." It was an ill-chosen moment to throw himself upon the mercy of a commercial theater, because O'Casey was just embarking on a series of dramatic experiments: Within the Gates (1934), in which the stylized polyphony of urban activities recalls the panorama of The Plough and the Stars and anticipates more modern works such as Arnold Wesker's Kitchen (1959); The Star Turns Red (1940), a vision of an anti-fascist revolution; and Purple Dust (1940), a fantasy cleansing of the remnants of imperialism from Ireland. Without an assured theater, these and his later plays were condemned to productions often amateurish and unhelpful to the reviser, sometimes coming years after O'Casey had reluctantly published the text. (An exception was the exemplary New York production of Within the Gates in 1934. But Irish playwrights have often done better in New York than London.) After World War II, O'Casey turned to a third, still more idiosyncratic form of drama, of which his own favorite example was Cock-A-Doodle-Dandy (1949). Broadly satirical depictions of rural Ireland in the grip of church and complacency, these were Aristophanic comedies with a great deal of folk culture and music hall in their constitution. Their reception was appropriately divided: Cock-A-Doodle-Dandy received its first production at the Royal Court in 1959; The Drums of Father Ned was forced out of the Dublin Festival of 1958. In the 1930s, O'Casey served as a drama critic for London's Time and Tide, producing a group of scathing comments on West End conventionality, which have been published as The Flying Wasp (1937). Other essays on theater appear in The Green Crow (1956), Under a Colored Cap (1963), and Blasts and Benedictions (1967).

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