Éire mar a bhí. Staging Irish Identities in the Theatre of Brian Friel

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Jessica Adolf

Éire mar a bhí. Staging Irish Identities in the Theatre of Brian Friel

ISBN 978-3-86821-615-8, 340 S., kt., € 35,00 (2015)

ISBN 978-3-86821-626-4, 340 S., geb., € 47,50 (2015)

Brian Friel belongs to the greatest playwrights on the world’s stage. "Éire mar a bhí – Staging Irish Identities in the Theatre of Brian Friel" is an indepth study of the writer’s theatre of moods which sheds light on the collective identity constitution of Ireland by means of a personal quest for identity of his dramatis personae. The tragedy of the human unites both Friel’s original work and his adaptations. His most successful dramas are analysed on a par with less well-known plays over a period of almost fifty years revealing significant topoi of the Irish identity such as religion, exile, homecoming, love, politics, history, family, mythology, language, music, detachment and hope. While the first plays examined in each of the sections do follow in chronological sequence of composition, their counterparts are often taken from very different periods, thus providing an illustration of how certain preoccupations of the dramatist recur across the whole range of his writing. A number of distinctive thematic patterns emerge from this analysis: a deep loneliness from which the characters suffer; the meaning of memory – either through a recalling of the past or its deliberate oblivion; the persistence of father-son conflicts; the divided identities of individual characters from the Private/Public Gar split in "Philadelphia, Here I Come!" on; the all but universal seasonal settings of the plays in the period from summer through to autumn figuring the dying falls of the actions. Brian Friel creates his dramatis personae with great empathy and sensitivity. He has, however, famously been shy of speaking publicly about his work. This book will therefore refine the knowledge of his dramatic oeuvre as it focuses on the Brian Friel archive at the National Library of Ireland on a scale beyond any other study so far. Brian Friel’s diaries, first drafts of and changes to his plays, newspaper cuttings, manuscripts, which include an unfinished play, as well as correspondence with fellow theatre professionals both give a precious insight into the creation of his drama and vividly portray the lifework of the reclusive writer. Photographs of rehearsals, production stills, good luck telegrams and portraits of Brian Friel beautifully complement this comprehensive book on Ireland’s outstanding contemporary dramatist.