21.6 x 13.8 cm. Oxford Theatre Texts 9
'Francis Warner has shown once more he is a masterful poet and dramatist. Healing Nature, his eleventh play, is his best work to date. The action centres round Pericles, the aristocratic general, commandingly played by Rob Smith, as he creates "an Athens all the world will imitate", only to see the tide of fortune turn and the empire fall into decay. Its exploration of the dilemmas facing empire-builders and empire- losers is original, thought-provoking, and relevant.
‘It is a compelling play which combines the grand, heroic drama of Marlowe's Tamburlaine with moments of exquisitely delicate lyric poetry and unexpected dashes of humour.' The Stage
'A real treat in poetry was to be had in the Sheldonian last night. This was the première performance of Healing Nature, by Francis Warner. . . The play is about the turmoil that the birth pangs of democracy bring to a city, and the revolution and hostilities that accompany it.
‘Francis Warner's play was safe in the hands of the Oxford University Dramatic Society, who, under the direction of Mark Payton, put on a classically Greek production. All brought out the Shakespearian quality of the play's verse and depth of meaning. And there could have been no better setting than the magnificent amphitheatre that is the Sheldonian.' Oxford Mail.
A ‘contemporary classic’ Oxford MailMore info →
21.6 x 13.8 cm. Irish Literary Studies series (ISSN 0140-895X) volume 19
O’Casey, the Dramatist is the first study to analyse each of Sean O’Casey’s plays in the context of the whole body of his work. His first plays were performed by the Abbey Theatre in Dublin until it refused The Silver Tassie, a rejection that brought about a most acrimonious debate, broke up friendships, and caused O’Casey to sever his links with the Abbey. Its directors were unable to understand the first of his experimental plays, and could not appreciate its true quality. Thenceforth O'Casey’s writing developed along new lines, mostly away from his Irish roots.
In popular estimation his best plays are those of the Dublin years – The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars – but many of his later works are greatly undervalued; indeed The Silver Tassie, Within the Gates, Purple Dust, Red Roses for Me, Hall of Healing, Cock-a-doodle Dandy and The Bishop's Bonfire are all masterpieces of modern drama, as this study shows.
Professor Kosok considers all the twenty-three extant plays, tracing O'Casey's development as a playwright through a chronological study and showing that his work can be divided into five periods, which are considered in this volume under the headings ‘Dublin as a Mirror of the World’, 'Experiments’, ‘Ideology and Drama', ‘Ireland as a Microcosm', and ‘Bitterness and Reconciliation’. He ends this study with a section headed ‘Continuity and Originality' in which he briefly summarises the findings of previous scholarship, suggests some additional answers to general problems, and indicates some avenues for future research.
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Chosen, edited and introduced by Claudia Harris
21.6 x 13.8 cm. liv, 258pp. + 8pp. with 16 illus. hardback November 2005
The Charabanc Theatre Company played a major role in Northern Ireland’s theatrical renaissance during the 1980s. Charabanc was formed by five out-of-work Belfast actresses (Marie Jones, Maureen Macauly, Eleanor Methven, Carol Moore, Brenda Winter) who first collected stories and then collaborated in writing and performing highly original plays for enthusiastic audiences. From 1983 to 1995, the company toured twenty-tour productions extensively throughout Ireland and the world, spreading their own particular brand of exuberant, dark humour.
The four plays in this collection – Now You’re Talking (1985), Gold in the Streets (1986), The Girls in the Big Picture (1986), and Somewhere Over the Balcony (1987) – represent the creative high point of the company. These entertaining plays show the broad range of the company’s work: portraits of urban and rural women; early, mid-, and late twentieth century settings, and various social, religious, historical political, or personal relations.
Marie Jones, Eleanor Methven, and Carol Moore were the remaining company principals during the mid-1980s when these four plays were created and performed. Marie Jones became the main writer for Charabanc and after leaving the company in 1990 has continued to write, notably the award-winning Stones in His Pockets. Eleanor Methven and Carol Moore continued on as artistic directors until they disbanded the company in 1995. Eleanor Methven now lives in Dublin and is a sought-after actress for stage and screen, and her first screenplay is in development with Journeyman Films. Carol Moore obtained an MA from Queen’s University, Belfast, and still acts for stage and film, but is now primarily an accomplished stage and screen director; in May 2005 she received a NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) Fellowship.
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21.6 x 13.8 cm. Oxford Theatre Texts 13
‘This is a study in “Weimar as a mode of spiritual life’, as Thomas Mann might have called it: the spirit of the place reflected in a swift series of sparkling encounters, bewildering in its variety, stirring in its epic scope.
'The vision was conveyed though some splendid acting. . . . Here they are, the secular saints of German Kulturreligion; all conjured up with perfect ease and conviction. This play is about people, some more, some less noble, but all noble in their efforts and, in Faustian fashion, “ever striving”. . .
'In the end, what counts is language, the language of poetry (as Herder would have been the first to insist). The verse is effortless and pure, and rises on occasion to noble resonance.
'For readers of German literature, this language holds special delights. In addition to the poems and the plays, the novels and the essays, contemporary letters, diaries, reported conversations are continually present. Much learning, lightly worn, has gone into this play.
'An example. At the end of the play, the audience is left with a masterly translation of the most celebrated of Goethe’s, perhaps of all German poems (“Über allen Gipfeln/ist Ruh”).
'The end is sombre, indeed. This mystery play promises no salvation. The sound of cannons is a moving and fitting end to Goethe’s Weimar.' Oxford Magazine
'The scale is Shakespearean, with a huge cast (thirty speaking parts) sweeping through time and place in flowing blank verse. . . . Warner is excellently served by his actors; Daniel Cassiel brings gravitas to Goethe, and Ian Drysdale achieves an astonishing double as Schiller and Napoleon. Tim Prentki produces smoothly as always.' Oxford TimesMore info →
Chosen and Introduced by Joseph Ronsley
The second volume of the Irish Drama Selections series (ISSN 0260-7962), General Editors: Joseph Ronsley and Ann Saddlemyer.
Hardcover ISBN: 0-86140-123-9 / 978-0-86140-123-9 £30.00
Paperback ISBN: 0-86140-086-0 / 978-0-86140-086-7 £9.95
21.6 x 13.8 cm.
Contains: The Old Lady Says 'No! (with Curtis Canfield's list of titles and authors of poems used in its Prologue)', The Moon in the Yellow River, The Golden Cuckoo, The Dreaming Dust, The Scythe and the Sunset, bibliographical checklist.
Denis Johnston's first play, The Old Lady Says 'No!', was produced in 1929, and immediately made his reputation as a very talented, innovative and deeply thoughtful playwright. This description was confirmed by his later plays, four of which, The Moon in the Yellow River, The Golden Cuckoo, The Dreaming Dust, and The Scythe and the Sunset, with The Old Lady, are printed in this volume. Written in widely varying styles, Johnston's work presents his audience with issues that initially seem clear-cut, but by the end of each play there have been thought through to such an extent that basic assumptions have been thoroughly reorganised and transformed.
At the time of publication of this selection in 1983 Denis Johnston (1901-84) was justly considered to be the doyen of Ireland's dramatists. Chosen and introduced by Joseph Ronsley, this selection is the ideal introduction to Johnston's work, for use by classes and performers alike.
Joseph Ronsley taught at McGill University, Montreal. He is author of Yeats's Autobiography: Life as Symbolic Pattern, and has edited Myth and Reality in Irish Literature, and Denis Johnston, a Retrospective. He is co-general editor of the Irish Drama Selections series, and has been a President of the Canadian Association for Irish Studies.
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Chosen and Introduced by Andrew Parkin
The fourth volume of the Irish Drama Selections series (ISSN 0260-7962), General Editors: Joseph Ronsley and Ann Saddlemyer.
21.6 x 13.8 cm. 416 pp. 2009 2nd, enlarged edition
Contains: London Assurance, The Corsican Brothers, The Octoroon, The Colleen Bawn, The Shaughraun, Robert Emmet, bibliographical checklist. plus Boucicault's "'Canterin' Jack' - A Sketch from Life. How The Shaughraun was originated'.
Dion Boucicault was a prominent playwright and prolific adapter of foreign plays and novels. He is known and loved especially for his high melodrama. Extremely popular on the Victorian commercial theatre for over forty years, his plays today still provide enjoyment to all audiences Born in Dublin, he achieved his first West End success with London Assurance in 1841. His work frankly catered to contemporary taste and fell rapidly into neglect after his death in 1890, but his lively observation of humanity in many moods, and his unerring sense of what works on the stage, have led his plays in recent years to successful revivals in Dublin, Belfast, Chichester and London, perhaps the most notable being the National Theatre's production of The Shaughraun starring Stephen Rea in the title role.
The works chosen for this volume illuminate Boucicault's consummate craft as a writer for the theatre in the age of actor-managers and melodrama. They also remind us of that Irish verve, charm and adroitness which made him the most popular playwright of his generation on both sides of the Atlantic. Arguably the father of both the Irish and American drama, his characteristic plotting and taste for sensation suggest that another of his heirs was the early movie industry.
This volume includes the great success of Boucicault's youth, London Assurance, together with his preface to the first edition; his durable version of the melodrama The Corsican Brothers; the exciting American plantation play The Octoroon, with both its endings; and three of his Irish plays, The Colleen Bawn, Robert Emmet, and The Shaughraun, to which has now been added his article on Cantherin' Jack, his inspiration for that play's title role. A selected bibliographical checklist, dates of first performances and cast lists are given, as are the songs, music and a glossary for the Irish plays.
The present selection from Boucicault's vast opus is chosen and introduced by Andrew Parkin. Andrew Parkin is Professor Emeritus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Honorary Senior Tutor of Shaw College. An Honorary Life Member of the Canadian Association for Irish Studies and Adviser to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, he belongs to a number of other international scholarly organisations. A member of the Canadian Writers’ Union, he is also adviser to the Canadian Chinese Writers’ Association. Residing now in France, he is President of the Paris Decorative and Fine Arts Society. He publishes scholarly books, mainly on drama, as well as original poetry, and short fiction.
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hbk 21.6 x 13.8 cm. Oxford Theatre Texts 5
In an empty circle, and without props, Francis Warner recreated for the 1978 Observer Oxford Festival of Theatre the world of late adolescence, of boys and girls caught in the process of becoming men and women.
‘Superbly and masterfully played’ (Oxford Mail), this beautifully balanced, minutely complex play examines the familiar Warnerian preoccupations, this time in a comedy of love, rich in poetry and generous in spiritMore info →
Edited, with an Introduction and Notes, by Christine St Peter
21.6 x 13.8 cm. xiv, 140 pp. 1992
This definitive edition is based on Johnston's final 1977 version published in the Dramatic Works, the product of fifty years of revisions, and situates the play in its historical, theatrical, and biographical contexts. It is the first edition to have reference to all private and archival materials and to have had the assistance of the playwright in the preparation of its critical apparatus, which includes comprehensive annotations and analyses of all substantive changes in the multiple manuscripts. It will be of enduring interest to scholars specializing in Irish and European theatre history, as well as to students of Anglo-Irish literature and theatre directors.
Co-published with the Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C.
ISBN 978-0-86140-214-4 21.6 x 13.8 cm.
For over five centuries the essays of Ze-Ami – considered, with his father Kan-Ami, to be the founder of Noh, the classical dance-drama of Japan – were kept secret. They were not shown to more than one Noh actor in each generation until recently. Though they contain a large number of paradoxes and contradictory statements as well as a great deal of repetition, they were regarded as a Bible by actors in the Noh technique. As repetition was a constant feature in training and in techniques in many arts in Japan, and as paradox had often been used in the search for the truth in Zen, so Ze-Ami's essays were accepted, despite their repetitions, paradoxes and contradictions. They were not. however, easily translatable, and they benefit from being edited.
In this work therefore, Ze-Ami's ideas are dealt with in eight chapters: The History of Noh: Five Groups of Noh Plays: Training: Acting: Writing a Play: Public Tachiai Competitions and Grades of Acting: The Audience: and Hana. This arrangement presents Ze-Ami's ideas with some order and consistency. Relevant sections of eighteen essays by Ze-Ami are translated and discussed. These include Fushi-kaden, Kashū, Ongyoku-Kowadashi-kuden, Kukyō, Shikadō, Nikyoku-Santai-Ningyōzu, Sandō, Fushizuke-shidai Fukyokushū, Yūgaku-Shūdō-Fūcken, Goi, Kyūi, Rikugi, Shūgy-okutokuka, Goonkyoku-Jōjō, Goon, Shūdosho, Kyakurui-ku, and Zeshi-Roku-juigo-Sarugaku-Dangi.
This volume is a most useful introduction to an understanding of Noh history, practice, and technique, for all readers in the West, written as it is by a trained Noh actor..
Chosen and introduced by George Cusack
The sixteenth volume of the Irish Drama Selections series (ISSN 0260-7962), General Editors: Joseph Ronsley and Ann Saddlemyer.
21.6 x 13.8cm.
Contains: The Things That Are Caesar’s, Shadow and Substance, The Conspirators, The White Steed, The Devil Came from Dublin, and Goodbye to the Summer, articles about his and others' plays – 'The Substance of Paul Vincent Carroll', 'On Legend and the Arts', 'The White Steed', 'Scottish Drama', 'Can the Abbey be Restored?', 'Reforming a Reformer, 'The Rebel Mind' – and a bibliographical checklist.
Paul Vincent Carroll was the first Irish Catholic to write for the Irish National Theatre after Irish independence. As such, his work offers a unique perspective on Irish life in the early years of the Irish Free State and Irish Republic, particularly the influence of the Catholic Church in rural Ireland. He is particularly known for his depictions of the Catholic clergy, which are simultaneously critical, hopeful, and, above all, human.
Although Carroll was lauded in both Dublin and New York as a major new theatrical voice, virtually none of his work has been in print since his death in 1968.
George Cusack is the author of The Politics of Identity in Irish Drama: W. B. Yeats, Augusta Gregory, and J. M. Synge, and the co-editor of Hungry Words: Images of Famine in the Irish Canon. He received his PhD from the University of Oregon in 2003. He is currently the Director of the Edith Kinney Gaylord Expository Writing Program at the University of Oklahoma.
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21.6 x 13.8 cm. Oxford Theatre Texts 10
‘Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) gave the première of Francis Warner’s new play Byzantium in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, followed by two performances in the University Church, Oxford, and another in Winchester Cathedral.
‘Byzantium is a play in two acts. It opens in 527 A.D. with the service in which Justinian is crowned Emperor in succession to his uncle Justin. In Act One Justinian is full of zeal and optimism for the tasks which his vision sets before him. Act Two is altogether more sombre, with unrest at home, news of a catastrophic earthquake in Beirut, and even Byzantium itself plague-stricken and the Empress herself dying. Moreover, the Emperor is plotted against by wily Cappadocian, who is trapped by the spirited Antonina, only to be spared from death by the Christian magnanimity of Justinian.
‘This complex background is sketched lightly yet comprehensively by Warner in elegant and beautiful verse, which was delivered with clarity and fluency by an admirable young cast directed by Tim Prentki
‘Warner did not choose an easy subject with Byzantium. He chose a challenge and he rose to that challenge and surmounted it magnificently. He is a master of plot and characterisation, and, indeed, of the English language, which he commands with a benign authority and loving finesse.’ The StageMore info →
hardback ISBN: 0-86140-080-1 / 978-0-86140-080-5 £35.00
three-quarter leather signed edition limited to 25 copies
ISBN: 0-86140-081-X / 978-0-86140-081-2 £150.00
21.6 x 13.8 cm. 516 pp. 1992
Volume 3 of the Dramatic Works of Denis Johnston
Edited by Joseph Ronsley
Publication of the third volume completes the collection of Johnston's work. Volume 3, The Radio and Television Plays, is in many ways the most interesting, not least because Johnston was one of the founding fathers of BBC drama and a major influence on viewers' very perception of what a television play consists of. Also printed in this collection are a number of articles and other prose writings about drama on radio and television. After a very happy pre-war period working for BBC Radio Northern Ireland, he moved to the embryonic television service at Alexandra Palace - he was one of the few to have been temporarily thrown out of television when broadcasting ceased for the duration of hostilities and he became a BBC Radio War Reporter. An interesting feature of the TV scripts is the early development of television script-writing technique, which, as these faithful reproductions from extant typescripts show, grew out of the conventions used in play-scripts.
Radio Plays: Lillibulero, Multiple Studio Blues, Great Parliamentarians: Lord Palmerston, High Command, The Gorgeous Lady Blessington, Amanda McKittrick Ros, In the Train;
Television Drama: The Parnell Commission, Weep for the Cyclops, The Call to Arms, Operations at Killyfaddy, Murder Hath No Tongue;
Essays on Broadcasting; Reviews; Appendices: Blind Man's Buff, Riders to the Sidhe; A Radio Talk.
21.6 x 13.8cm. Irish Literary Studies series 38
W.B. Yeats wrote the plays in Four Plays for Dancers (1921) when he was strongly influenced by Japanese Noh theatre, and was searching for some breakthrough in his efforts to promote poetic drama.
Since then, various books have been published on this topic but, with the notable exception of Richard Taylor, no scholar has been able to cope with both Yeats and Noh. Yeats and the Noh started in a small seminar room in University College Dublin, when both authors took part in productions of The Dreaming of the Bones and Nishikigi with their students. Masaru Sekine directed both plays and Christopher Murray performed in them: they were therefore equipped with live experience as well as their personal expertise in Irish literature and Noh drama.
Professor Augustine Martin introduces the volume, and apart from the main section of the book, Colleen Hanrahan, one of the students who took part in both UCD productions, writes about acting in Yeats’s play; Peter Davidson writes about Yeats, Pound, Rummel and Dulac; and Katharine Worth provides an essay on Yeats, Beckett and Noh. There are 16 pages of illustrations.
This volume is unique in providing detailed analysis of contrasts in theatrical aims, as well as examining why man seeks to explore tragic drama as a means of extending the limits of reality.
Edited by Ann Saddlemyer
xxxvi, 304 pp. 21.4cm
J.M.Synge died in 1909 and The Works of John M. Synge were published in four volumes by Maunsel & Co., Dublin, in 1910. Since that time, with the exception of a few minor verses and one or two fragments of prose, the canon of his work has remained unaltered. Nevertheless, much unpublished material exists, for the most part of great interest and significance for the understanding of Synge's methods of work and development. This material, including early drafts of the plays, notebooks, poems, and fragments of poetic drama, has now been thoroughly explored in order to create this definitive edition, first published by Oxford University Press 1962-68, which not only collects together all that is of significance in his printed and in his unprinted work, but also, by a careful use of worksheets and early drafts, indicates much of the process of creation.
The Collected Works is under the general editorship of the late Professor Robin Skelton, of the University of Victoria, British Columbia. The first volume contains his edition of Synge's poems and translations; the second assembles all Synge's prose writings of any merit or interest, edited by the late Dr Alan Price, of The Queen's University, Belfast.
The third and fourth volumes are devoted to Synge's plays, edited by Professor Ann Saddlemyer, then of Victoria College, University of Toronto, now retired. The first of these volumes contains texts of Riders to the Sea, The Shadow of the Glen, and The Well of the Saints, and of the originally little known When the Moon has Set, with appendices analysing the drafts of each play and giving details of first productions. In addition the volume contains much unpublished material, scenarios, dialogues, and fragments, discovered among Synge's notebooks.
This volume provides definitive texts of The Tinker's Wedding, The Playboy of the Western World, and Deirdre of the Sorrows. For all these three plays recently discovered manuscript and notebook material has involved a certain amount of textual alteration; an examination of the long-lost final typescript of The Playboy of the Western World has provided many clues to the author's intentions, while comparison of the various drafts of Deirdre of the Sorrows with the typescript given by the executors to Yeats and Lady Gregory has enabled Dr Saddlemyer to determine the extent of posthumous collaboration.
Synge rewrote his plays many times; one act of The Playboy ran to at least fifteen full drafts, not counting numerous alterations. By examining each available draft of every play, the editor has been able to provide not only a final text of each play as close as possible to the dramatist's version, but in her accompanying notes almost a variorum study of significant passages. Appendixes record the growth of each play from the original scenario through many drafts to the final text, and include discarded scenes which throw new light on the playwright's creative process. Details of first productions and a comprehensive description of all the manuscript sources are also included. The introduction traces the history of each play, quoting extensively from Synge's unpublished correspondence and notebooks to record the dramatist's attitude to his own work in the making, and to set each play against the broader background of the Abbey Theatre. In searching out the material for this edition, Dr Saddlemyer has made use of public and private collections in both Ireland and the United States, and has also included a glossary and guide to pronunciation.
These volumes were published by arrangement with Oxford University Press.
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ISBN: Volume 2 :0-86140-373-8 £17.50
ISBN: The pair : 0-86140--374-6 £40.00
Written over the past twenty-two years Agora contains Francis Warner’s plays originally published in the Oxford Theatre Texts series, the theme of which is the West’s odyssey in discovery of its own values, and – in the second half of the work – what the Twentieth Century has done with them.
The first half of the epic (Volume 1) meets the classical tradition on its own grounds. It opens with Healing Nature, a play about Periclean Athens, and this is followed by a trilogy of Roman plays – Virgil and Caesar, Moving Reflections and Light Shadows – then Byzantium, and concludes with Living Creation, a dramatisation of Renaissance Florence under Lorenzo de’ Medici.
The second half (Volume II), opening with A Conception of Love, a comedy of love to mark the half-way point, is set in the Twentieth Century, and uses Twentieth Century techniques. It contains Maquettes for the Requiem Trilogy and the plays themselves, Lying Figures, Killing Time and Meeting Ends. Added as an appendix is Tim Prentki’s Introduction to the one volume edition of Requiem, published in 1980.
‘Common to all these plays is a focusing on a moment in history when the attempt was made to ennoble the life of man, to produce that great society, radiant in arts and civilised in politics, which is the mirage that haunts the traveller through the dusty plains of human history. Choice spirits struggle to unite beauty, justice, peace. Of course the struggle is always lost in the end. . . . Detailed. . . accurate . . . moving, with convincing dramatic power, Warner’s verse filled the ear satisfyingly, and echoes in the memory.’ Jasper Griffin, in Oxford Magazine
‘He is a master of plot and characterization, and, indeed, of the English language, which he commands with a benign authority and loving finesse.' The Stage
A ‘contemporary classic’ Oxford Mail
‘The remarkable series of dramas written by our most adventurous experimental playwright.’ The Times
‘Francis Warner is the most remarkable of those dramatists of our time who have striven to push the limits of theatre beyond their age-old limits. His plays have, by daring appeal to the realms of music and physiology, considerably widened the area of sensibility of those properly responsive to them. They are unique, possibly the only truly unique drama of our time.’ Sir Harold Hobson in The Sunday Times
‘The sort of illuminated shorthand of his style, allied to his arresting visual images, is clearly capable of making a very direct contact - and an electrically shocking one at that. He is a considerable writer.’ Plays and Players
21.6 x 13.8 cm. iv, 404 pp. 1979 Volume 2 of the Dramatic Works of Denis Johnston
Contains: A Bride for the Unicorn, The Moon in the Yellow River, A Fourth for Bridge, The Golden Cuckoo, Nine Rivers from Jordan, The Tain (a pageant), and 'Introducing the enigmatic Dean Swift'.More info →
Edited by Ann Saddlemyer
J.M.Synge died in 1909 and The Works of John M. Synge were published in four volumes by Maunsel & Co., Dublin, in 1910. Since that time, with the exception of a few minor verses and one or two fragments of prose, the canon of his work has remained unaltered. Nevertheless, much unpublished material exists, for the most part of great interest and significance for the understanding of Synge's methods of work and development. This material, including early drafts of the plays, notebooks, poems, and fragments of poetic drama, has now been thoroughly explored in order to create this definitive edition, first published by Oxford University Press 1962-68, which not only collects together all that is of significance in his printed and in his unprinted work, but also, by a careful use of worksheets and early drafts, indicates much of the process of creation which occurred before the production of the printed page.
The Collected Works is in four volumes, under the general editorship of the late Professor Robin Skelton, of the University of Victoria, British Columbia. The first volume contains edition of Synge's poems and translations, the second assembles all Synge's prose writings of ant merit or interest, edited by the late Dr Alan Price, of The Queen's University, Belfast.
The third and fourth volumes are devoted to Synge's plays, edited by Professor Ann Saddlemyer, then of Victoria College, University of Toronto, now retired. Only five of the plays were published during Synge's lifetime. One emptied the Abbey Theatre, yet was the first of its productions to be translated and performed on the Continent; one caused riots in both Britain and America; one was considered 'too dangerous' to be performed in Ireland. All were written during the last seven years of Synge's life, for the Abbey Theatre, of which he was co-director with W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. But although his output was comparatively slight, Synge's contribution to the development of modern drama is immeasurable.
In the first volume of the plays we see the development of the playwright's craft. Definitive texts, based on Synge's own notebooks and typewritten drafts, are provided of Riders to the Sea, The Shadow of the Glen, and The Well of the Saints. Included is his controversial first play, When the Moon Has Set, rejected three times by his co-directors, yet carefully preserved by Synge among his papers. Other material discovered among his notebooks, scenarios, dialogues, and fragments, written between 1894 and 1908, indicates not only the scrupulousness with which Synge studied his art, but his rich and fertile imagination. A comprehensive introduction records the history of each play in the making, from genesis to finished product, at the same time setting Synge's work within the larger context of his experience as director and producer and quoting from his own letters documenting his progress. Appendices analysing the drafts of each play and giving details of first productions provide further bibliographical information and describe the numerous manuscript sources tracked down by the editor in public and private collections in both Ireland and the United States.
The second volume of plays contains texts of The Tinker's Wedding, The Playboy of the Western World, and Deirdre of the Sorrows, with similar notes and appendices.
These volumes were published by arrangement with Oxford University Press.
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Edited, with an Introduction and Notes, by Nicholas Grene
J.M. Synge’s The Well of the Saints, to some extent overshadowed by his better-known plays Riders to the Sea and The Playboy of the Western World, well deserves an individual edition. A rich and complex tragicomic study of the conflict between imagination and reality, The Well centers on an old, blind couple, disillusioned by a miraculous cure, who finally prefer blindness to sight.
Nicholas Grene’s full introduction provides the historical background to the play and the reasons its first audiences, at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, received it with a hostility prefiguring the Playboy riots a few years later. He shows how Synge embeds his parable-like story in the reality of the Irish countryside, and how the theme of the play is developed through a skilful dramatic control of audience response. The Well of the Saints, with its striking affinities to Beckett, can thus be recognized as a play before its time.
The play is fully annotated, with an explanatory note on the language and a glossary for those unfamiliar with Synge’s poetic-peasant dialect. And with access (denied previous editors) to the Abbey Theatre prompt-book in which Synge made important theatrical alterations, Prof. Grene has been able to supply an edition with new textual authority.
12.6 x 13.8 cm. iv, 395 pp. 1977 Volume 1 of the Dramatic Works of Denis Johnston
Containing: General Introduction, The Old Lady Says `No!' and 'A Note on what happened', The Scythe and the Sunset, Storm Song, The Dreaming Dust, 'Strange Occurrence on Ireland's Eye' and accompanying prose writings about these plays.
Edited, with an Introduction and Notes, by Katharine B. Worth
First published in 1903, Where There Is Nothing was never reprinted in the author’s lifetime. It lost its place in collected editions of Yeats’s plays to a new version, The Unicorn from the Stars, in which Lady Gregory had a major share. There has long been a need for an edition of Where There Is Nothing to restore to general view an interesting play which, unusually for Yeats, has a modern setting, a middle-class hero, and a predominantly naturalistic technique.
Yeats gave various reasons for abandoning the original play. Perhaps one he did not mention was his doubt whether its open and direct style and modem Irish background might not identify the author too closely with the visionary central character, Paul Ruttledge. Many of Yeats’s deepest preoccupations are reflected in Paul’s pursuit of his apocalyptic vision: he abandons a life of bourgeois comfort for hard freedom among the tinkers, follows a religious life in a monastery, and finally dies a martyr at the hands of a mob who cannot understand his ecstatic message: “Where there is nothing, there is God.”
The drastically revised version, The Unicorn from the Stars, changes the period and social milieu and introduces new characters and plot complications which bear the marks of Lady Gregory’s distinctive style. Both plays are included in this volume to allow comparison of the plays themselves and to throw light on the characteristic methods of these two preeminent playwrights.