Irish Theatre Institute’s Playography Researcher/Editor, Claire Keogh, recently particiated in the Irish Society for Theatre Research conference on 1st & 2nd June at the University of Lincoln in the UK. Drawing on the statement made by Neil Murray and Graham McLaren on their appointment as joint Artistic Directors of the Abbey Theatre, the conference’s theme of regions, ruins and regeneration focused on issues of identity, community and place as they relate to theatre and performance.
Claire’s paper titled “Bellowing Through The Silence: Polyphonism in Elaine Murphy’s Shush,” discussed the use of language in Murphy’s play, which was the first by a female playwright other than Marina Carr to be presented on the Abbey’s main stage since 1988.
From the 9th – 13th July, Claire attended the International Federations for Theatre Research’s World Congress at the University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. The International Federation for Theatre Research exists to facilitate communication and exchange between scholars of theatre and performance research throughout the world through its conference events and publishing activities. The theme for the 2018 conference was Theatre and Migration – Theatre, Nation and Identity: Between Migration and Stasis, and the week-long programmeincluded general panels, working group panels, four keynote speakers, a side programme, social & cultural programme, showcases and book launches.
Claire participated in the Feminist Research working group which tookInstitutions – Infrastructure – Interventions as its theme, responding to the unveiling of gendered hierarchies inscribed within theatre practice through the recent explosion of scandals of abuse of power.
Claire Keogh a first year PhD student in the Drama Department at Trinity College Dublin. Her research focuses on Irish women playwrights before and after #WakingTheFeminists, investigating the relationship between feminist dramaturgies and the location of production.
Abstract of Claire’s paper Between the Centenaries: “Shush” at the Abbey Theatre
When the #WakingTheFeminists movement criticized the paucity of female playwrights in the Abbey Theatre’s 2016 “Waking the Nation” programme, many people felt echoes from the Abbey’s 2004 centenary when the lack of female playwrights in the “abbeyonehundred” programme was similarly lamented in the press. Between the controversies of the two centenaries, Elaine Murphy became the first women other than Marina Carr to have a play produced on the Abbey’s main stage in twenty-five years. This essay will focus on the 2013 production of Murphy’s Shush to interrogate the language, structure and themes of the play against the patriarchal status quo of the theatre’s programming between the centenaries. Drawing on the work of feminist linguists, the language of the play will be analysed against Robin Lakoff’s theory of women’s language to question whether the play was written in a typically gendered style. The dramaturgical structure of the play will also be analysed through a feminist lens to interrogate its use of the traditional comedic form and how this framed the production. Situating the play within Fiach MacConghail’s tenure as Artistic Director (2005-2016), its preoccupation with heterosexual relationships will be contextualized within the broader cultural narrative propagated by the national theatre during this period. Focussing primarily on Shush’s linguistic construction and dramaturgical structure, Murphy’s relationship to feminist dramaturgies will be investigated. A novelty in the theatre’s programming, this essay will question why this play was chosen for the Abbey’s main stage, and why it failed to pave the way for a greater representation of work by women at the national theatre.