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Foregrounding the Body: The Plays of the 1990s
  • Elmer Andrews

Abstract

Underlying Friel’s whole dramatic endeavour is a faith in the transcendental subject, a faith which links him with the great liberal humanist artists of the nineteenth century such as Chekhov and Turgenev whose artistic temperament is remarkably similar to his own and in whose artistic vision and technique he has shown a special interest. And it is this faith which distinguishes Friel from many modern theorists and philosophers of language and subjectivity. Catherine Belsey summarises the post-Saussurian view: ‘It is language which offers the possibility of constructing a world of individuals and things, and of differentiating between them’.1 Friel agrees that subjectivity is substantially constituted by language, but he refuses to accept that it is wholly a product of discourse. In Derrida’s view, the individual is inscribed in language and a function of it; in Althusser’s theory he or she is positioned and determined by illusory ideological processes; while according to Lacan, who adapts Freudian ideas, the individual is ‘taken over’ at the point of his or her insertion into language and society. For Friel, however, the individual is still essentially prior to his language, history and social conditions, informed by prevailing social and political values, but not simply a symptom of them. There is a ‘second order’ degree of responsibility for moral and political beliefs within the individual.

Keywords

Verbal Theatre Catholic Social Teaching Direct Address Faith Healer Holy Water 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Raymond Tallis, Not Saussure: A Critique of Post-Saussurean Literary Theory (London: Macmillan, 1988), p. 64.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    Antonin Artaud, The Theatre and its Double (London: Calder and Boyars, 1970), p. 60.Google Scholar
  3. 23.
    Jerzy Grotowski, Towards a Poor Theatre (London: Methuen, 1969), p. 35.Google Scholar
  4. 34.
    Peter Brook, The Empty Space (Harmondsworth: Pelican Books, 1973), pp. 47–72.Google Scholar
  5. 43.
    Artaud actually paid a visit to Ireland on 14 August 1937. He brought with him a magical stick which he believed had belonged to Christ, had been mentioned in the prophecies of St Patrick and he had owned himself in a previous incarnation. He visited the Aran Islands and on 8 September left Galway for Dublin, leaving behind him a drift of unpaid bills. He spoke very little English, which was probably just as well when he tried to wake the Irish up from their sleep of conformity by prophesying that Catholicism would be destroyed as idolatrous and the Pope would be condemned to death as a traitor. Proclaiming all law as criminal, he incited the Irish people to riot on the streets. After several brushes with the police, he was deported, arriving at Le Havre in a straight-jacket on 30 September 1937. See Ronald Hayman, Artaud and After (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 120–4.Google Scholar
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  11. 55.
    J. M. Synge, Preface to The Playboy of the Western World, in The Plays and Poems of J. M. Synge, ed. T. R. Henn (London: Methuen, 1963), p. 174.Google Scholar
  12. 59.
    Brian Friel, ‘MacLochlainn’s Vertigo’, introduction to The London Vertigo (Dublin: Gallery Press, 1990), p. 12.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Elmer Andrews 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elmer Andrews
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UlsterUK

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