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The Land of Saints and How to Get Out of It

Irish Diaspora on the Irish stage (1904 to 1939)

Fabio Luppi    Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italia    



Leaving aside historical and mythological dramas, a considerable number of plays written for the Abbey Theatre between 1904 and the outbreak of the Second World War represent emigration. They enjoyed varying degrees of success. In 1904 G.B. Shaw portrayed an Irish émigré as one of the two protagonists in John Bull’s Other Island; in the following two years Padraic Colum’s The Land and William Boyle’s The Mineral Workers were enthusiastically received by Abbey Theatre audience, the former with its depiction of young Irish men and women emigrating to America, the latter, an engineer returning to Ireland from overseas; 1907 saw three plays presenting emigration as one of the great Irish issues, both politically and economically: J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World, George Fitzmaurice’s The Country Dressmaker and Lady Augusta Gregory’s The Jackdaw. They were followed by T.C. Murray’s Birthright, Lennox Robinson’s Harvest and Colum’s Thomas Muskerry. Indeed, it is almost impossible to provide an exhaustive list of all the plays dealing with emigration. The present paper aims to discuss a selection of significant plays intended for or staged at the Abbey Theatre in the first decades of the twentieth century, analysing what emigration stood for, and how it was exploited dramatically. The historical boundaries of this research (1904-1939) provide a provisional limit to an otherwise too vast study for the present paper.

21 Dicembre 2017
18 Agosto 2017
16 Luglio 2017

Keywords: TheatreEmigrationAbbeyIrishDiaspora

Copyright: © 2017 Fabio Luppi. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.