Populating the Irish Stage

International conference, University College Cork, 26-28 June 2014

Call for Papers


Populating the Irish Stage –

Questioning the identity of contemporary Irish theatre (1990s-2014)

International conference, University College Cork, 26-28 June 2014


We are happy to announce the participation of:

Frank McGuinness

Patrick Mason

Louise Lowe

Ailís Ní Ríain

Pat Kiernan

‘We write plays, I feel, in order to populate the stage’. (Thomas Kilroy)

The conference will explore the identities of Irish theatre from the Celtic Tiger era to the current economic crisis. It will also offer a fitting opportunity to engage a dialogue between theatre practitioners and academics, notably through a roundtable with established and emerging artists.

Critical mythology has associated the birth of a national Irish theatre with the foundation of the Abbey Theatre. It was not only a response to an aesthetic quest but also an attempt to define the Irish nation at the turn of the 20th century. Without elaborating on Irish theatrical historiography, one may observe that theatre does strongly contribute to the identity of a country and its people. In the current climate, insularity has its limits; contemporary global society questions traditions and identity, while transformations in technology, practice and ideology rearrange creative hierarchies.

It appears timely to gauge the impact of these transmutations on the status of the theatrical text, and question how creative collaborators approach it in contemporary Ireland. How do these changes affect writing, directing, staging, producing and touring? Insofar as theatrical activities are related to space and constitute a cultural identity, it is pertinent to investigate where and how they populate Ireland at the turn of the 21st century.

A first area of study might concern the definition of the contemporary theatrical landscape. More extensively, the playscript, with all its variations in status and form, will lend itself to an array of analyses. The creative spectrum will be interrogated in view of the thematic areas, classical or innovative, explored or ignored by dramatists. Additionally, the term theatrical ‘text’ itself, and its provenance, may be open to enquiry. Emergent voices, post-dramatic theatre, the revised status of the author, the move from a literary tradition and realist aesthetics, the increased use of video, improvisation, community-related and site-specific work, all these elements should be examined to view how contemporary Irish stages are populated.

To that end, the event will be organized around two complementary themes: ‘The contemporary Irish theatre text’ and ‘Contemporary theatre practice in Ireland’.


Papers are invited from a variety of critical, practical and interdisciplinary perspectives. We particularly encourage contributions from those working in theatre history, dramatic literature, live art, performance studies, cultural studies, and Irish studies. Ideally, papers will engage with such informing themes as theatrical literary heritage and tradition, developments in staging, forms and origins/sources of theatrical creations.


Possible areas of investigation include, but are not limited to:

–          Literary realist drama

–          Contemporary issues, as expressed in content and form

–          Irish and non-Irish productions on Irish stages

–          Theatre in the Irish language

–          Impact of funding and cultural policies

–          Development of theatre away from main venues

–          Status of the author/director/dramaturg

–          Audience participation and community theatre

–          The impact and practice of post-dramatic theatre

–          Experimental practices


Please send abstracts (250-300 words) and short bios to the conference co-organisers:


Dr. Anne Etienne, School of English, University College Cork (Ireland), a.etienne@ucc.ie

Professor Susan Blattès, RADAC (groupe de Recherche sur les Arts Dramatiques Anglophones Contemporains), University Stendhal Grenoble 3 (France)

Professor Thierry Dubost, ERIBIA/GREI, University of Caen-Basse Normandie (France), thierry.dubost@unicaen.fr




Selected papers will be published in a collection of essays.


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This entry was posted on February 2, 2014 by .


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