"Not Always But Often": Introduction to a Special Issue on Radical Theatre and Ireland (Part 1)

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Abstract

This article sketches Irish history and how Irish nationalism deployed cultural production - including radical theatre - as a means of asserting itself as a political and moral force. "Radical Theatre" prompts questions around what both Baz Kershaw and Herbert Blau refere to as 'efficacy', insofar as it implies engagemetns with both content, form, and audiences outside of those which characterise accepted forms of theatre practice. And yet, scholars and practitioners of radical theatre confront the slipperiness of theconcept of radical theatre: it shifts emphasis between theatre as cultural intervention for social progress (a critical, subversive, ethical vocation) and theatre as aesthetic invention (privileging formal experimentation). Also, the radical gesture itself is always at risk of compromise and co-option in the service of that which it seeks to critique. To be efficacious, radical cultural work must inevitable confront the state, and will have to come to terms with, and produce, a narrative of the past. All of these characteristics problematise the practice and understanding of radical theatre in Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-52
JournalKritika Kultura
Volume14
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010

Keywords

  • 1916 Rising
  • Irish Theatre
  • Nationalism
  • Radical

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