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Alternative Ulster: Upstaging the State in Contemporary Northern Irish Drama

Maguire, Tom (2004) Alternative Ulster: Upstaging the State in Contemporary Northern Irish Drama. In: Political Futures: Alternative Theatre in Britain Today, University of Reading. University of Reading. 12 pp. [Conference contribution]

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This paper undertakes a comparative analysis of a range of contemporary Northern Irish dramas dealing with the Troubles. Each of the plays has set out to present an ‘alternative’ to a specific set of discourses in the representation of the conflict in Northern Ireland: a rebuttal of Republican claims for support south of the border; an exposition of the role of the police in brutalising nationalists; an alternative vision for the future of Protestantism. Each, nonetheless, is constrained in its intent by the limitations of the representations provided, in its failure to embrace more fully the totality of the situation. The omission of the role of the British from representations of the violence has contributed to discourses which have camouflaged the actual role of the British state in the conflict. It is an omission characteristic of virtually all plays about the Troubles. Such limitations led each of the plays to a complicity with a wider discourse in which the conflict is seen as internal to Northern Ireland where the Troubles are represented as an impenetrable dance macabre where history, politics and religion have provided the accompaniment for two opposing but hopelessly interlocked tribes. The ‘alternative Ulster’ which emerges is an alternative to the enlightened, the civilised, rational, the taken for granted of the rest of Britain. Northern Ireland is a place where normality has been suspended and where ordinary human beings enter at their peril: a heart of darkness just across the Irish Sea.

Item Type:Conference contribution (Paper)
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Arts > School of Creative Arts and Technologies
Research Institutes and Groups:Arts and Humanities Research Institute
Arts and Humanities Research Institute > Creative Arts and Technologies
ID Code:14881
Deposited By: Dr Thomas Maguire
Deposited On:10 Sep 2010 10:32
Last Modified:27 Feb 2014 11:53

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