Representations of women in the plays of Marina Carr, Enda Walsh, Mark O'Rowe and Deirdre Kinahan : a comparative study

Wharton, Rebecca Garner (2016) Representations of women in the plays of Marina Carr, Enda Walsh, Mark O'Rowe and Deirdre Kinahan : a comparative study. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Irish theatre and its histories typically appear dominated by men and their actions. Drawing on the work of Marina Carr, Edna Walsh, Mark O'Rowe and Deirdre Kinahan, this thesis aims to complicate this masculinist narrative by comparing and contrasting a diverse range of female characters that have appeared in the work of these four important contemporary Irish playwright, since the 1990s. The playwrights and the plays chosen by no means comprise a comprehensive survey of contemporary Irish playwriting, but instead are intended to provide a more focused and illustrative study of male and femeale-authored representartions of women during the period. The study includes male and feamle playwrights and mainstage writers such as Carr, alongside Kinahan who, from a scholarly perspective, is lesser known. My account of Kinahan's work thus represents a new and original contribution to Irish theatre scholarship. In what follows I employ a critical methodology best described as hybrid, combining elements of culturals amterialist analysis, espcially the concept of hegemony as outlined by Antonio Gramsci, with a more performance-oriented mode of textual analysis. My theoretical underpinning draws on a range of existing arguments about the position of women in Irish culture, but also on the work of theatre scholars and cultural historians who have identified the stage as a significant site for cultural transformation. I argue that playwrights are leading the way in encourgaing soical, political and cultural progress for Irish women. I will begin by reviewing existing literature in the field and considering the influence and impact of an earlier generation of Irish playwrights and of the long sustained influence of the state and church on hegemonic depictions of female characters in Irish playwriting. However, my intention is to show that more recent stagings of Irish 'femininity' have been remarkably wide-ranging and anything but hegemonic.

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