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Synge and the Making of Modern Irish Drama Examination of Synge's journey to becoming a national playwright and his legacy to contemporary Irish dramatists.

Synge and the Making of Modern Irish Drama

Publication Date 21st, January, 2013

ISBN 978-1-904505-64-8

Cost 25.00

In Synge and the Making of Modern Irish Drama, Anthony Roche draws on twenty-five years of engagement with Synge's plays to present ten chapters on the unfolding of a double narrative. The first argues the extent and ways in which John Millington Synge self-consciously undertook to become the founding playwright of an Irish national theatre. Synge's rapid development as a playwright is examined in relation to Yeats and Joyce. His love affair with Abbey Theatre actress Máire O'Neill (Molly Allgood) is treated in depth, both in terms of their troubled life together and the vibrant roles he wrote for her. The book's second narrative moves from Synge's historical time to the present day, to consider what subsequent Irish playwrights have made of his dramatic legacy. Samuel Beckett, asked by his biographer to name the dramatists whose plays had meant the most to him, uttered only the name of Synge in reply. This study also traces in illuminating detail the impact of Synge's revolutionary plays on a range of contemporary playwrights: Brian Friel, Stewart Parker, Marina Carr and Martin McDonagh, to examine how this influence and recent productions of Synge's work have enabled him to remain our contemporary. It will be of considerable interest to students of Irish drama both in Ireland and worldwide.



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Synge and the Making of Modern Irish Drama

Reviewed by : Irish Library Journal, November 2013

One will find a deeper appreciation of Irish playwright and Abbey Theater founder John

Millington Synge (1871–1909) after reading these illuminating essays by Roche (English, drama, & film, Univ. Coll. Dublin; Brian Friel: Theater and Politics). An integral figure of the Irish literary renaissance, Synge produced five plays, two of which (Playboy of the Western World and Riders to the Sea) are acclaimed as masterpieces.

The sixth, Deirdre of the Sorrows, was unfinished before his death.


In his prose The Aran Islands as well as his plays, Synge championed a new realism in the language of his characters and his themes. Roche emphasizes the feminist strand in Synge’s writing, which echoes the work of Henrik Ibsen: the women in Synge’s plays rail against the repressive patriarchal structure of Irish society but ultimately remain imprisoned in it. Pieces about the playwright’s impact on poet W.B. Yeats (who lauded his work), writer Samuel Beckett (who acknowledged him as a playwright), and dramatist Friel (whose work simultaneously imitates and rejects Synge’s) reflect Roche’s broad and deep knowledge of contemporary Irish drama.


Verdict Serious students of Irish drama will find this scholar’s book invaluable.—David Keymer, Modesto, CA

Synge and the Making of Modern Irish Drama

Reviewed by : Joseph O'Connor

"(Synge's) work is appreciated, cherished, even loved, and as long as we have scholars of Tony Roche's wisdom and insight to reveal its new facets to us, it will continue to haunt and beguile".


About the Author(s)

Anthony Roche

ANTHONY ROCHE is an Associate Professor in the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin. He is the author of the pioneering Contemporary Irish Drama (Second Edition, 2009) and the acclaimed Brian Friel: Theatre and Politics (2011). He was the director of the Synge Summer School in Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow, from 2005 to 2007.


Table of Contents

There are no Table of Contents for this publication at present.


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