|The State of Play: Irish Theatre in the Nineties
Ed. Eberhard Bort
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"... our theatre in the 'nineties is alive and well and in pursuit of new understanding, new images, fresh articulation of who we are as a people, what we are as individuals and where we are headed as a nation in the age of the Maastricht Treaty, the Common Agricultural Policy, and the Land of Heart's Desire, where the Deutschmark is re-writing all our histories. In high (or is it not low?) Germany we came to dig a little deeper into such questions and challenges as these histories continue to pose. Although our agenda was the contemporary theatre and drama, it was not forgotten that the battle standard followed was originally designed by Yeats, suitably mocked at by Shaw, and carried with pride and passion by Synge almost one hundred years ago."
Thus Christopher Murray in his introductory essay of this volume: a timely assessment of Irish drama and theatre in the 1990s, developed from the papers given at an international conference on contemporary Irish theatre at the University of Tübingen, south Germany. The conference marked the fifteenth anniversary of the Tübingen Anglo-Irish Theatre Group, a University-based company which has produced well over sixty Irish plays in Tübingen and beyond.
The editor, Eberhard 'Paddy' Bort, a founder-member of the group, directed most of the shows and acted in some of them, before he went to Scotland, in 1995, as a Research Fellow at the International Social Sciences Institute of The University of Edinburgh.
Eberhard Bort, Ivy Bannister, Christopher Murray, Karin McCully, Anna McMullan, Cathy Leeney, Brendan MacGurk, Gerald Dawe, Robert F Garratt, Eberhard Bort, Claudia W Harris , Tom Magill, Beate Richter, Stuart Marlow, Mary Cloake, Paul O'Hanrahan
.... The State of Play: Irish Theatre in the 'Nineties ... sets out to chart the routes of ... such ongoing transformations [in contemporary Irish theatre]. This very readable and highly informative volume offers some 14 contributions by Irish and international experts who all justify Christpher Murray's claim in the Introduction that Irish theatre in the 'nineties "is alive and well..."
This volume has its origins in a conference held at the University of Tübingen in November 1995 on Contemporary Irish Drama and Theatre. It was organised by the editor, Eberhard (aka Paddy) Bort, that most energetic and exuberant of Irish scholars, who brought together critics, academics and practitioners from Ireland north and south and from the Continent to discuss current developments in Irish theatre. This is a particularly valuable exercise, given the current burgoning of interest in the subject, and raises the question of why such conferences are not held on the island itself. Indeed, in the critical void left by the demise of the journal 'Theatre Ireland', the material in this volume is both timely and necessary. . . . The editor produced this volume with commendable speed, barely a year after the conference, but the standard of proofing is extremely high, the essays are all footnoted and have been revised since, and the book ends with a Select Bibliography of relevant works on the subject. It undoubtedly contains much that will interest academic and theatre practitioner, student and punter alike.
To undertake a survey of the 'state of the Irish theatre'from outside, in fact from "a place called Tübingen" (Ivy Bannister's phrase in her charming introduction) may at first glance appear presumptuous. At a second glance it is less so, and for two reasons. On the one hand, most of the contributors to this exciting volumeare themselves practitioners and/or critics of the Irish theatre scene. On the other "a place called Tübingen is the seat of and Irish theatre 'in diaspora' (a term frequently under discussion in this volume) - one that has more than sixty productions to its credit and has managed to survive for fifteen years, more than most of the theatre companies discussed in this volume can claim for themselves. Moreover, this volume follows on an earlier one "Standing in their shifts itself...": Irish Drama from Farquhar to Friel, also edited by Eberhard Bort, which provided a general overview of Irish drama up to the 'eighties.