An evolution of blame : renegotiating a national Catholic identity through performance




Valentine, Erin

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In the last twenty years there has been a surge of theatre made in response to the deep cultural trauma exposed by the States of Fear documentary. These works include traditional scripted theatre, documentary theatre, dance theatre, and site-specific pieces. This thesis puts performances in conversation with other cultural artifacts like government reports, documentaries, and public referendums in order to track how this century of abuse within the Catholic Church in Ireland evolved from an open secret to a national scandal worthy of political and cultural re-negotiation at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. In this project I do a critical reading of two plays, Eclipsed by Patricia Burke Brogan and James X by Mannix Flynn. Although Eclipsed and James X are not the only works of theatre created during this time period that represent the traumas wrought by the state, I chose them because both plays were written by authors who were personally involved in this history either as a witness to (Brogan) or survivor of (Flynn) this abuse. These plays were written over a ten-year period between the early 1990s and early 2000s and echoed the political and cultural renegotiation of Irish Catholic identity in the wake of widespread trauma.


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