The Dreaming Body: Contemporary Irish Theatre
Edited by Melissa Sihra & Paul Murphy



In A Critical History of Modern Irish Drama 1891-1980 (1984), the late Professor D.E.S. Maxwell states that the drama of J.M. Synge has ‘an effect of language [to] disturb the apparent solidity of his stage’s material accessories, to fantasticate and mythologise character into action.’ In a sense, this is what all great drama does; through the use of the fantastic and the mythic, it disturbs the ‘solidity’ of the world as we know it. The works presented and discussed in this volume, show how the material of the everyday is transformed by the dreams of theatre makers, as we journey forth into the 21st Century. In writings by Marina Carr, Seamus Heaney, Olwen Fouere, Terry Eagleton, Paul Murphy, Aoife Monks, Melissa Sihra, Conall Morrison, Mark Phelan, Eamonn Jordan, Brian Singleton, Lynne Parker, Rhona Trench, Stephen Regan, David Johnston and Donal O’Kelly we see examples of creative writing which engage critically with a world that is constantly changing, and examples of critical writing which engage creatively with theatre that is constantly evolving.

    This book is also a celebration of the vitality, originality and richness of theatre practice and scholarship on the island today. In Olwen Fouéré’s 1999 production Angel/Babel, the millennial cyborg-figure says: ‘The dreaming body lies at the core of everything and the metaphor of the dark is much richer and stranger than what is being talked about.’ Theatre, indeed all art, is impossible without the dreaming body, whether it is the body of the performer, the playwright, the designer, the scholar or the director. Such creative impulses are at the heart of what this book seeks to explore. Theatre practice and scholarship in Ireland, North and South, has never been more vibrant and energised. This collection of writings offers a taste of the dreams and imaginings which have materialised on the island over the last forty years. The sixteenth volume in the Ulster Editions & Monographs Series.

Seamus Heaney. ‘The Wood Road’ – Melissa Sihra & Paul Murphy. Introduction, ‘The Dreaming Body’
– Eamonn Jordan. ‘Urban Dramas:  Any Myth Will Do?’ – Extract from Marina Carr’s Chekhov, introduced by Melissa Sihra – Lynne Parker. ‘Showtime: The Strategy of Mischief in the Plays of Stewart Parker’ – Mark Phelan. ‘Performing “Authentic” Ireland: (Dis)connecting the Cultural Politics of the Irish Revival and the Celtic Tiger on the Irish Stage’ – Rhona Trench. ‘Staging Morality in On Raftery’s Hill: A Kristevan Reading’ – Stephen Regan. ‘Terry Eagleton’s Saint Oscar’ – Extract from Terry Eagleton’s Saint Oscar – Brian Singleton. ‘Queer Eye for the Irish Guy: Transgressive Sexualities and the Performance of Nation’ –  Olwen Fouéré. ‘Operating Theatre and Angel/Babel’ – Aoife Monks. ‘Looking for Fiona: Gender and Nationality in the Work of Fiona Shaw’ – Paul Murphy. ‘Brian Friel’s Wonderful Tennessee, or what was lost in Translations’ – Conall Morrison. ‘The Future of Greek Tragedy and The Bacchae of Baghdad’ – Extract from Conall Morrison’s The Bacchae of Baghdad  Melissa Sihra. ‘Birthdays and Deathdays in the Theatre of Samuel Beckett and Marina Carr’ – David Johnston. ‘En otras palabras: Frank McGuinness and Spanish Drama’ – Donal O’Kelly in conversation with Paul Murphy – Robert Welch. ‘Afterword’

 This is the sixteenth volume in the Ulster Editions & Monographs series.
Essays on and extracts from the work of modern Irish playwrights

ISBN 13 (978-0-86140-465-0)    Hardback   21.6cm   vi, 232 pp.   £38.00