The Golden Thread

BookThe Golden Thread

The Golden Thread

Irish Women Playwrights, Volume 1 (1716-1992)


July 1st, 2021



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This two-volume edited collection illuminates the valuable counter-canon of Irish women’s playwriting with forty-two essays written by leading and emerging Irish theatre scholars and practitioners. Covering three hundred years of Irish theatre history from 1716 to 2016, it is the most comprehensive study of plays written by Irish women to date. These short essays provide both a valuable introduction and innovative analysis of key playtexts, bringing renewed attention to scripts and writers that continue to be under-represented in theatre criticism and performance.

Volume One covers plays by Irish women playwrights written between 1716 to 1992, and seeks to address and redress the historic absence of Irish female playwrights in theatre histories. Highlighting the work of nine women playwrights from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as thirteen of the twentieth century’s key writers, the chapters in this volume explore such varied themes as the impact of space and place on identity, women’s strategic use of genre, and theatrical responses to shifts in Irish politics and culture.

CONTRIBUTORS: Conrad Brunström, David Clare, Thomas Conway, Marguérite Corporaal, Mark Fitzgerald, Shirley-Anne Godfrey, Úna Kealy, Sonja Lawrenson, Cathy Leeney, Marc Mac Lochlainn, Kate McCarthy, Fiona McDonagh, Deirdre McFeely, Megan W. Minogue, Ciara Moloney, Justine Nakase, Patricia O'Beirne, Kevin O'Connor, Ciara O'Dowd, Clíona Ó Gallchoir, Anna Pilz, Emilie Pine, Ruud van den Beuken, Feargal Whelan

'Spanning from the eighteenth-century to the present day, The Golden Thread brings together the work of leading scholars in Irish theatre and women’s writing with that of theatre practitioners to recover the often-hidden contributions of women playwrights. The collection develops a counter-canon of Irish playwrights that examines issues of class, sexuality, and disability.'
Colleen English, The New Books Network

'This is one of those indispensable works that will influence the future of performance studies and feminist criticism. The number and variety of voices on display, the effort in the reconstruction of the canon by adding women playwrights who had been erased in the past, and the declared ambition to draw attention to and create the conditions for revivals and publications of plays created by contemporary women playwrights make this extensive compilation more than recommendable. [....] All in all, a very enjoyable edition, which makes for a rewarding read and provides essential information.'
María Gaviña-Costero, Estudios Irlandeses

Author Information

David Clare is Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. Fiona McDonagh is Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. Justine Nakase is Adjunct Lecturer at Portland State University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
“There’s no Place like old England”: National and Regional Identities in Mary Davys’s The Northern Heiress; Or, the Humours of York (1716)23
“Some tender scenes demand the melting tear”: Frances Sheridan’s The Discovery (1763) and the Vindication of “Sentimental Comedy”35
Irish Wit on the London Stage: Elizabeth Griffith’s The Platonic Wife (1765)47
Deceptive Disabilities in Maria Edgeworth’s The Double Disguise (1786): Irish Patriotism, Consumption, and the Martial Male Body59
Reimagining Maria Edgeworth’s The Knapsack (1801) for a Contemporary Young Audience77
Mary Balfour’s Kathleen O’Neil (1814): An Expression or Betrayal of Her Ulster Scots Background?93
Justice and the “Triple Goddess” Archetypes in Anna Maria Hall’s Mabel’s Curse (1837)105
Operas without a Hero: A Comic Trilogy (1876–1879) by Elena Norton and Mary Heyne115
“Petticoats! – Petticoats! Petticoats!”: Sartorial Economics in Clotilde Graves’s A Mother of Three (1896)127
From Gort to Antarctica: Lady Gregory’s Audiences and The Rising of the Moon (1903)141
Lady Gregory’s Grania (1912): Myth and Mythology167
“You have let the play go to pieces”: Geraldine Cummins and Susanne R. Day’s Fox and Geese (1917) and the Hegemony of the Early Abbey Theatre181
“Something left over from the Eighteenth Century, undergoing a slow process of decay”: The Impotence of the Ascendancy in Mary Manning’s Youth’s the Season–? (1931)193
Shape Shifting the Silence: An Analysis of Talk Real Fine, Just Like a Lady (2017) by Amanda Coogan in Collaboration with Dublin Theatre of the Deaf, an Appropriation of Teresa Deevy’s The King of Spain’s Daughter (1935)205
The Premiere Staging of Mount Prospect (1940) by Elizabeth Connor (the Pen Name of Una Troy) at the Abbey Theatre219
Corruption and Socio-Political Tensions in Christine Longford’s Tankardstown (1948)231
Social Class, Space, and Containment in 1950s Ireland: Maura Laverty’s “Dublin Trilogy” (1951–1952)241
Máiréad Ní Ghráda’s An Triail/On Trial (1964): Hiding Hypocrisy in Plain Sight265
Christina Reid: Acts of Memory in Tea in a China Cup (1983), The Belle of the Belfast City (1989), and My Name, Shall I Tell You My Name? (1989)275
Anne Devlin: Depicting a Gendered Journey: Men and Women on The Long March (1984)287
A Partial Eclipse: The Role of the Religious in Patricia Burke Brogan’s Eclipsed (1988/1992)299
Coda – What the Woman Sees: Waking Up to Feminist Aesthetics311
Notes on Contributors327