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Staging Intercultural Ireland New Plays and Practitioner Perspectives
Staging Intercultural Ireland

Our Price:39.00
Authors: Charlotte McIvor and Matthew Spangler
Affiliation: National University of Ireland, Galway and at San JosÚ State University
Publication Year: Hardback September 2014
Pages: 246
Size: 234 x 156mm

ISBN: 9781782051046

This collection features eight plays and six interviews with migrant and Irish-born theatre artists who are producing work at the intersection of interculturalism and inward-migration in Ireland during the first decades of the 21st Century.

Plays covered:
Cave Dwellers (2002) by Nicola McCartney
Hurl (2003) by Charlie O'Neill
Orpheus Road (2003) by Ursula Rani Sarma
The Cambria (2005) by Donal O'Kelly
Once Upon a Time & Not So Long Ago (2006) by Bisi Adigun
Mushroom (2007) by Paul Meade
Rings (2012) by Rosaleen McDonagh
Broken Promise Land (2013) by Mirjana Rendulic

The Celtic Tiger era witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of transnational migrants entering Ireland. By the 2011 Census, 17% of the population was born outside of Ireland and much of what had been assumed about Irish identity (and theatre) could no longer hold. This groundbreaking anthology brings together six interviews and eight plays by migrant and Irish-born theatre artists who probe the impact of inward-migration and interculturalism in post-1990s Ireland. The interviews and plays collected here, all available in print for the first time, model a range of devising strategies, dramaturgical frameworks, and literary forms. To date, the work documented here has been produced at a wide range of venues from the Abbey Theatre and New York's La MaMa Experimental Theatre to mid-sized theatre companies, community centres, street theatres, and even refugee accommodation centres throughout Ireland. This book represents established as well as emerging theatre artists and includes work by Donal O'Kelly, Bisi Adigun, Charlie O'Neill, Rosaleen McDonagh, Paul Meade, Nicola McCartney, Ursula Rani Sarma, and Mirjana Rendulic. Additionally, there are interviews with Bairbre NÝ Chaoimh, Anna Wolf, Kasia Lech, John Currivan, Alicja Ayres, JosÚ Miguel JimenÚz, Declan Gorman, Declan Mallon, and John Scott. Staging Intercultural Ireland offers a snapshot of Ireland's long-term intercultural process in its early stages and contributes to transnational migration studies and intercultural theatre research in a global context.

Charlotte McIvor is Lecturer in Drama, National University of Ireland, Galway and Matthew Spangler is Associate Professor of Performance Studies at San JosÚ State University in California, USA.

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  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Staging Intercultural Ireland: New Plays and Pract March 10, 2015
Reviewer: Susan Hennessy Studies in Theatre and Performance from UK  
The Celtic Tiger economic boom brought with it an unprecedented rise in the number of transnational migrants entering Ireland, and Irish society has become increasingly ethnically diverse over the course of the last two decades as a result of inward migration. The eight plays and six interviews that comprise Staging Intercultural Ireland speak of an evolving Irish culture even as it is being constructed, and offer an insight into 'the experiences, concerns and aesthetic representations of Ireland's migrant and minority ethnic communities' as well as making 'a contribution to transnational migration studies [and] intercultural theatre research in a global context' (p.3). In their introduction, McIvor and Spangler thoroughly contextualise the material that they have chosen to include by providing statistical information/recent migration figures and a timeline of Irish theatre/performance works that provide a commentary on these demographic changes. The editors' positioning of this anthology in terms of its relevance to the expansive field of performance studies is also crucial, as the dramatists/directors/performers it unites share a commitment to producing artworks which are as formally experimental as they are socially engaged - works which might form the basis of a theatre where new cultural identities can be sculpted and performative stereotypes of 'Irishness' avoided.

In Staging Intercultural Ireland, McIvor and Spangler bring together contemporary Irish theatre works that deal in multiplicities rather than binaries, in rhizomatics rather than majoritarian/minoritarian divisions; works which propound a new interculturalism (rather than a non-integrated multiculturalism) which would transcend an outworn theoretical construct used 'primarily to describe Western appropriations of non-Western narratives and performance practices' (p. 12). Nicola McCartney's Cave Dwellers (2002), for instance, universalizes the experience of the asylum seeker, and situates dramatic action in a void where displaced, fluid identities fragment and bleed into one another. McCartney's refugees (whose definitive origins and temporary location are never given) force us to ask questions about communication and human relationships across language barriers, as they struggle to ascertain each other's motivations, allegiances, and familial obligations. Familial obligations form the very basis of Ursula Rani Sarma's Orpheus Road (2003), a tale of star-crossed lovers set before the backdrop of a divided Northern Ireland. Like McCartney, Sarma challenges binary divisions, as her female protagonist, Emma, is an economic migrant of unspecified ethnicity who operates outside of the Catholic/Protestant system of classification, in spite of attending a Protestant school. Sarma's play places a notion of 'youth interrupted by violence' (p. 131) into sharp focus, and highlights, through adolescent self-harm, the traces that violence leaves on the bodies of its victims as well as the structure of society.

In Charlie O'Neill's Hurl (2003), a veritable plethora of marginalised individuals unite to form Ireland's first multi-ethnic hurling team, with the help of a defrocked, alcoholic priest, and much to the dismay of the local GAA chairman, a malevolent bigot. Hurl fuses athletics and dance in its stage directions, and recognises both the sports field and the stage as potential meeting grounds for an exchange of global performance traditions. Rosaleen McDonagh's Rings (2012) focusses on indigenous, rather than immigrant, minority groups, as it generates awareness of social issues affecting those members of the Traveller community with disabilities, and places a young aspiring female boxer, Norah, at the centre of the action. Norah is marginalised not only because of her Traveller status, but also by the Traveller community itself, on account of her deafness, her sex, and her prowess in a sport that is considered 'masculine' in her own culture. In this respect, Rings explores the innate performativity of both athleticism and gender, as well as the semiotics of sign language.

Donal O'Kelly's The Cambria (2005) and Bisi Adigun's Once Upon a Time & Not So Long Ago (2006) are rather more overtly didactic than the rest of the plays in this collection. The Cambria is a fictionalised and uplifting account of former slave Frederick Douglass' journey from Boston to Ireland in 1845, and so has a flavour of the biographical/historical novel, and Adigun's play juxtaposes a first act which dramatizes traditional African folk tales, with a second act which stages material gleaned from interviews with Africans living in Ireland and slickly presents itself as pure documentary/verbatim theatre. Paul Meade's Mushroom (2007) is a study of migrant workers' estrangement from the promised land which they cultivate and the culture they cannot inhabit, and Mirjana Rendulic's part-biographical Broken Promise Land challenges the stereotype of the Eastern European sex worker through the monologue of Stefica, who, despite having her own dreams of an idyllic new world shattered, controversially declares, on behalf of herself (Rendulic) and her co-workers: 'We are emancipated young women' (p. 333).

The collection of interviews that rounds off this substantial work is no trifling afterthought or token gesture; it is through these that we can really begin to understand how theatre is being implemented as a catalyst for social change, and exchange, in Ireland today. Reading John Scott's description of Fall and Recover (a performance devised with clients of the Centre for the Care of Survivors of Torture in Dublin, which was received by the New York arts scene), and his account of the therapeutic workshops which gave birth to this work, is a profoundly moving experience, and Jose Miguel Jimenez's closing reflections on theatre as a universal language are poignant and perfectly placed. As Jimenez puts it: '[I]n making theatre, you're always local. You're always reacting to where you are in the end' (p. 384). This anthology allows us to listen to a cacophony of voices, each seeking to make sense of a world and to tell a story through the inherently human medium of theatre; the fact that these stories are difficult, that they are told by voices that are oppressed, challenged and threatened, should serve to make us all the more determined to hear them.

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