Ein Vergleich: Das österreichische und irische ländliche Volksstück des 20. Jahrhunderts als Ausdruck nationaler
Selbstdarstellung auf der Bühne.
PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
A Comparative Study: The Rural Austrian and Irish Volksstück of the 20th Century as a Means of National Self-depiction on Stage
This study, firstly, identifies parallels within the genre of the rural play in Ireland and Austria from the 19th century up to present-day trends. Secondly, it illustrates the significance of the agrarian milieu as a means of national self-depiction. Thirdly, the textual analyses focus on the plays as ‘typically’ Irish and Austrian. Tracing the reception they received over time illustrates how the perception of what is regarded as ‘national drama’ has changed over the past century. The analyses comprise: John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World (1907) and Karl Schönherr’s Erde (1908) to cover the period of the early 20th century. In the 1930s, a time of political and social conservatism, T. C. Murray’s rather ‘timid’ Michaelmas Eve (1932) and Richard Billinger’s Rosse (1931) were regarded as appropriate for the respective national stage. The third analysis deals with Tom Murphy’s Bailegangaire (1985) and Peter Turrini’s Sauschlachten (1972), examples of how the genre was utilised in order to subvert the affirmative interpretation of the genre. The analyses demonstrate that plays, commonly regarded as deeply rooted in the nation, bear a substantial amount of supranational traits. The ‘reception histories’ prove that the public ‘imagines’ these plays as national literature. In addition, the reception and performance histories make clear that in Austria, the rural play has no significance on the national stages anymore because of its success in the ‘Third Reich’ and also because of demographic changes. Overall, Irish playwrights still employ a rural context in their plays more so than in Austria. This can be interpreted as a desire by the Irish to contain the traditional depictions of the nation, in particular with staging rural plays in a traditional form or adapting them in a rather humorous way.
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