‘I’m thinking this night wasn’t I a foolish fellow not to kill my father in years gone by.’ – Christy Mahon
On the first night of J. M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World (1907) the audience began protesting in the theatre; by the third night the protests had spilled onto the streets of Dublin. How did one play provoke this? Christopher Collins addresses The Playboy ’s satirical treatment of illusion and realism in light of Ireland’s struggle for independence, as well as Synge’s struggle for artistic expression. By exploring Synge’s unpublished diaries, drafts and notebooks, he seeks to understand how and why the play came to be.
This volume invites the reader behind the scenes of this inflammatory play and its first performances, to understand how and why Synge risked everything in the name of art.
Introduction 1. Context 2. Play 3. Performance Conclusion Bibliography
Routledge’s Fourth Wall books are short, accessible accounts of some of modern theatre’s best loved works. They take a subjective but easily digestible approach to their topics, allowing their authors the opportunity to explore their chosen subject in a way that is absorbing enough to be of use both to lovers of theatre and those who are being asked to study a play more deeply.
Each book in the series looks at a specific play, variously exploring its themes, contexts and characteristics while prioritising original, insightful writing over complexity or scholarly weight. While other cultural products such as albums and films are well served by this kind of writing, the Fourth Wall series aims to find room between rigorous analysis and the short format of reviews or articles. They are extended accounts that get to the heart of their chosen works without being bound by the density that academic treatments can often require.