The University of Wisconsin Press

Irish Studies / Film & Theater


Riot and Great Anger
Stage Censorship in Twentieth-Century Ireland
Joan FitzPatrick Dean

Irish Studies in Literature and Culture

Michael Patrick Gillespie, Series Editor

"No other single work documents in its totality the tradition of theatrical disorder and stage censorship in twentieth-century Ireland."

—Karin Maresh, Theatre Survey

Although books, films, and periodicals were subject to Irish government censorship through much of the twentieth century, stage productions were not. The theater became a public space to air cultural confrontations between Church and State, individual and community, and “freedom of the theatre” versus the audience’s right to disagree. And disagree they often did. Throughout the twentieth century, Irish performances of new plays by William Butler Yeats, John Millington Synge, and Sean O’Casey, as well as those of such lesser-known playwrights as George Birmingham, often evoked heated responses from theatergoers, sometimes resulting in riots and public denunciation of playwrights and actors.

“Joan FitzPatrick Dean takes the reader on a tour de force of theatrical riots, pamphleteering, manipulation, coercion, and ‘indomitable Irishry’ determined to bring to the floorboards something of the vision and promise of the [Gaelic] Revival. Dean demonstrates clearly how funding, politics, religion, and personality—as well as the history of Ireland’s long connection to Britain—shape the public character of Irish drama. She provides an engrossing chronicle of the evolving double helix of theater and its forces of expression on one hand, and censorship and its forces of restraint and coercion on the other.” —Jerome Joseph Day, New Hibernia Review

“[Dean’s] study of the twin traditions of protest and freedom in twentieth-century Irish theater will be invaluable in collections supporting study of Irish culture, Irish literature, and modern theater in general.”—Choice

Joan FitzPatrick Dean is Curators’ Teaching Professor of English at the University of Missouri–Kansas City and author of Dancing at Lughnasa, David Hare, and Tom Stoppard: Comedy as a Moral Matrix.

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The cover of Dean's book is illustrated with an image of a father and son battling with a scythe and shovel.

April 2010

LC: 2003022354 PN
240 pp.
   6 x 9

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Paper $19.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-19664-6

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"Ultimately, Dean’s reader will put down her book feeling that the deep engagement
between Irish national politics and theatre in all its forms has rarely been as convincingly demonstrated."
—Elizabeth Barry, Irish Studies Review

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