Drama, Performance, and Polity in Pre-Cromwellian Ireland

Drama, Performance, and Polity in Pre-Cromwellian Ireland

ALAN J. FLETCHER
Volume: 6
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 616
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442674080
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  • Book Info
    Drama, Performance, and Polity in Pre-Cromwellian Ireland
    Book Description:

    A study of the early history of drama and performance in Ireland, from the 7th century through the 16th and 17th centuries, ending on the eve of the arrival of Oliver Cromwell.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7408-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. A Note on Texts, Transcriptions, and Terminology
    (pp. xiii-2)
  7. Prologue: Insubstantial Pageants
    (pp. 3-8)

    Ask that elusive being, the average man in the street, if he can name a famous historical playwright and theatre, and you may get the answer ‘Shakespeare’ (who has never been lost from sight, whether people have actually read or seen his plays or not) and perhaps ‘The Globe’ (especially since the latter has been reincarnated into popular consciousness recently on London’s South Bank). Ask the same question of that even more elusive being, the average Irishman, and he may come up with ‘Shakespeare,’ or with ‘Shaw,’ ‘Wilde,’ ‘Yeats,’ ‘Synge,’ ‘O’Casey,’ or any of the other names of the Irish...

  8. 1 Drama and the Performing Arts of Gaelic Ireland
    (pp. 9-60)

    It is fair to say that the general opinion on whether Ireland ever had a native dramatic tradition is slowly shifting. Historians of Irish culture from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century had categorical views on the matter: ‘Though many Irish tales are highly dramatic, the Irish never developed Drama in the proper sense of the word,’ said P.W. Joyce, and he went on to assert that ‘There was no Irish theatre, and no open-air acting.’¹ In some quarters, views as stringent and unequivocal as Joyce’s still command respect.²

    By the 1950s, however, the prevailing orthodoxy began to be gently...

  9. 2 Early Dublin Drama
    (pp. 61-125)

    It is time now to pass from Gaelic Ireland into the heart of the English Pale, although even here, as will be seen, Gaelic Ireland would not be entirely lost from view. On the contrary, Pale dwellers were sharply aware that theirs was an enclave, a wedge carved out of wider dominions whose inhabitants were rarely content with the terms of their ‘pacification.’

    In the same year that King Henry VIII acceded to the English throne, the cathedral church of St Patrick in Dublin perhaps did as it had been doing for many years when it paid a group of...

  10. 3 Dublin Drama in the Sixteenth Century
    (pp. 126-160)

    Cities have long relied on artists of sundry sorts to stage-manage and celebrate their corporate image. Sometimes those artists have taken the liberty to invent the image on their own account, presenting it as they see it without having to heed restraints and obligations that a formal artistic commission will normally impose. Thus on occasions, from the point of view of the establishment, an independent presentation may seem askew, offering an unflattering image or worse, a threatening one. Dublin’s colourful history in the annals of civic self-representation is seen perhaps most famously this century in James Joyce’s treatment of the...

  11. 4 Drama and the Performing Arts in Old Kilkenny
    (pp. 161-196)

    If Dublin’s Corpus Christi pageantry was derelict by the end of the sixteenth century, there was one Irish town where it was still thriving. Remarkably, it also throve there until at least 1637, which probably makes it the longest lived of any of the Corpus Christi dramas known in the British Isles. Its longevity was nourished on an unusual cocktail of circumstances: the town’s relative distance from Dublin, the centre of English reform and conformity, relieved it of the obligation of having to behave as a dedicated follower of the capital’s fashion; it had its own particular agendas which drama...

  12. 5 Provincial Pomps and Triumphs
    (pp. 197-205)

    Very few English kings, and no queens, were ever to ride in triumph through Ireland during the period covered by this study, even though their right to rule the island had been confirmed long since in the mid-twelfth-century BullLaudabiliter. Their island was administered on their behalf. From 1172 onwards, chief governors were appointed as viceroys, their powers ceding to the monarch whenever the monarch might be present in person. Yet in the monarch’s stead these men were the next best thing, and at least from the sixteenth century they might expect to be greeted with the sorts of dramatic...

  13. 6 Patrons, Households, and Institutions
    (pp. 206-260)

    Since all elegies tend to commemorate the brightest fragments of former existence, it is not surprising that in Irish poetry,ubi suntreminiscence should often make mention of life’s convivial moments when social well-being found issue in music and feasting. Gaelic minstrels and performing artists, who were wont to inhabit and orchestrate such moments, came naturally to symbolize a whole way of life, society at its most sanguine best. More than merely provide entertainment, through their unique resources of display they also publicly acclaimed the values of their patrons. Not only, then, were the various minstrel classes and their performances...

  14. 7 Dublin Drama in the Seventeenth Century
    (pp. 261-277)

    All that remains before the final curtain is a return in more detail to that outcropping of theatrical patronage that gave Ireland its first public playhouse. Sir Thomas Wentworth (1593–1641), Lord Deputy from July 1633 until March 1640, apart from during absences in 1636 and 1639–40, was the efficient cause of the Werburgh Street Theatre. His career, and something of his personality, have already been glimpsed in previous chapters. Here it might be added that not only was theatre his personal passion – his correspondant George Garrard regularly chose to regale him with gossip about fashionable productions in...

  15. Epilogue: Revels Ended
    (pp. 278-280)

    With the disbanding of the Werburgh Street Theatre, this survey ends. Its trajectory, broadly characterized at the outset as moving from performance to theatricality, might seem on the face of it to have brought us from one world without the Pale to another, very unlike, within, and to have done so via various provincial detours. Yet just as performance and theatricality have been viewed as shades of the one spectrum that is drama, so it may be none too surprising to notice, on reflection, a certain circularity, that just as we began with Gaelic performers appointed to places in the...

  16. APPENDIX I: The Dublin Visitatio Sepulcri Play
    (pp. 281-301)
  17. APPENDIX II Titvs, or the Palme of Christian Covrage
    (pp. 302-303)
  18. APPENDIX IIIa: Sir Henry Sidney’s Civic Entry into Waterford
    (pp. 304-305)
  19. APPENDIX IIIb: Sir Henry Sidney’s Civic Entry into Limerick
    (pp. 306-307)
  20. APPENDIX IIIc Sir Thomas Wentworth’s Civic Entry into Limerick
    (pp. 308-309)
  21. APPENDIX IV Introduction to the Sword Dance
    (pp. 310-314)
  22. Notes
    (pp. 315-452)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 453-484)
  24. Index
    (pp. 485-520)