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Moving Censorship: Transnational Performances of Banned Irish Plays, 1957-63

Barilar, Nicholas Patrick (2021) Moving Censorship: Transnational Performances of Banned Irish Plays, 1957-63. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In 1958, the archbishop of Dublin protested against the inclusion of a new play by Seán O’Casey and a dramatic adaptation of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses in that year’s Dublin International Theatre Festival. When news of the archbishop’s protest broke, pressure mounted for Festival organizers to expel the plays. After O’Casey withdrew his play and Festival organizers dropped the Joyce adaptation, Samuel Beckett, whose mime plays were also slated for the Festival, withdrew his contributions in solidarity. Deprived of their headliners, the organizers ultimately cancelled that year’s Festival. The plays didn’t vanish with their de-facto censorship, however. Instead, censorship swayed how artists performed these plays and audiences interpreted them.
In this dissertation, I argue that censorship moves and that attending to censorship’s mobility in the performances of these plays uncovers transnational Irish performance’s deep entanglement with local and national cultural and political formulations in the mid-twentieth century. Ireland’s unique experience of modernity ensured that Irish censorship’s political and cultural effect of cultivating identities, discourses, and histories and constellating the relationships between them continued beyond the Republic’s borders through Irish theatrical performances as they moved. This is to say that this dissertation discloses how transnational Irish cultural performances acted like censors, themselves, within the particular circumstances of their local productions, shaping and influencing both performance and reception. I also develop a methodology for studying censorship’s mobility. After first analyzing the historical conditions that enabled censorship to move from the collapse of the 1958 Dublin International Theatre Festival, each subsequent chapter offers a case study in a different way censorship moves through performances – specifically those that were slated to appear at the 1958 Festival. Using a microhistorical approach to scrutinize the performances, I question how they and the censorious effects I study dialogued with local, national, and transnational issues like communism, gender and sexuality, Holocaust memory, and perceptions of Ireland and the Irish. Ultimately, analyzing mobile censorship in the performances of these plays reveals how transnational Irish cultural production worked to entrench hegemonic ideologies or stifle progressive politics even as the productions sometimes laid claim to progress, freedom, or universal humanity.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Barilar, Nicholas Patricknicbarilar@pitt.edunpb130000-0003-1209-9418
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGranshaw, Michellemkg31@pitt.edumkg31
Committee MemberGeorge,
Committee MemberMcKelvey, Patrickptm17@pitt.eduptm17
Committee MemberTrotter, Marytrotter.mary@wisc.eduN/A
Date: 8 October 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 August 2021
Approval Date: 8 October 2021
Submission Date: 5 August 2021
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 357
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ireland, Theatre, Censorship, Performance, Transnational
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2021 20:19
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2021 20:19


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