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Because we are poor: Irish theatre in the 1990s Post colonial perspectives on 1990s Irish theatre

Because we are poor: Irish theatre in the 1990s

Publication Date 10th, March, 2011

ISBN 978-1-904505-51-8

Cost 25.00

Throughout the twentieth century, Irish theatre was fully engaged with the pressing questions of independence – how to achieve it, and how the gap between what was desired and what was settled for might be addressed.

In Because We Are Poor, Victor Merriman reads Ireland’s postcoloniality as a state of critical desire for a postponed project of decolonization in Independent Ireland. He develops insights from Awam Amkpa, Luke Gibbons, Peadar Kirby, Joe Lee, David Lloyd and others to argue that Irish theatre is staged in a neo-colonial social order, dominated by economic analyses and public policies designed to secure the position of indigenous elites, usually at the expense of the majority of Irish people. 

Theatre emerges as a key site in which the contradictions arising from frustrated but enduring desires are embodied, enacted and enabled. During the 1990s, the state’s monopoly on public discourse in Independent Ireland comes under severe pressure, with hitherto marginal concerns appropriating public space and demanding to be heard. Irish theatre responds to the range and diversity of those voices, to the extent that the Review of Theatre in Ireland (1995-1996) envisages a National Theatre in dialogue with a Theatre of the Nation.

The expanded theatrical activity of the 1990s is the focus of Because We Are Poor, and the author’s intimate involvement in that moment, as scholar, practitioner, and policy-maker makes the analysis offered here especially compelling. This book brings together concerns which the author has worked to articulate in Irish theatre criticism.

It critiques contemporary appropriations of the postcolonial, or post-colonial, among scholars of Irish drama, and proposes a nuanced postcolonial critical practice, challenging critical vocabularies applied to Irish drama. The book addresses the role, crises and potential of Irish theatre, as the cultural and political consequences of globalization manifest themselves.

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'Because we are poor'. Irish theatre in the 1990s

Reviewed by : Awam Amkpa, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Victor Merriman re-reads Ireland's greatest traditions and its contemporary cultural practices with dazzling audacity and intellectual verve. His book offers stunning insights into transformative ideas about the nation, citizenship and cultural politics during Ireland's recent economic boom, broadening and deepening our knowledge of postcolonial Ireland...The contemporary resonance and timeless fluency of Merriman's arguments make this book a must read for those interested in irish drama and theatre and postcolonial theory.

'Because we are poor'. Irish theatre in the 1990s

Reviewed by : Shaun Richards, Staffordshire University

The Celtic Tiger may now be extinct, but those seeking an understanding of the cultural-political, rather than simply economic reasons for its demise need look no further than Merriman's forensic analysis....Drawing on canonical plays and productions, along with those from the social and cultural margins, this is a powerful testimony to criticism's commitment to social change.


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