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Irish Theatre: A Designer’s Theatre

  • Siobhán O’Gorman
Chapter

Abstract

Collaboration is paramount to the theatre designer’s process, as Irish scenographer Frank Conway argues in his insightful essay “The Sound of One Hand Clapping” (2012). However, Conway also points out that, in the discourses of Irish theatre, the specific role of theatre designers continues to be “undervalued, undermined even, a casualty of an outdated, unchallenged nineteenth-century perception [of ‘doing the backgrounds’] that is still pervasive in the industry”. Departing from several existing published considerations of design in Irish theatre that have tended to examine the role of designers via work by particular directors or writers (sometimes inadvertently reinforcing the conventional positioning of designers as subservient to writers and directors), this chapter seeks to foreground the specific contributions of designers. In addition, it seeks to trace genealogies of the designer’s increasingly co-authorial input in contemporary Irish theatre practice. In order to offer depth as well as breadth, and to trace the genealogies of contemporary practice, I will home in on the work of two designers, focussing in particular on their activities during the 1980s: Bronwen Casson and Monica Frawley. Select works by these artists (for example, their respective contributions to scripts authored by Tom MacIntyre) offer illuminating case-studies on the increasing authority and generative contribution of designers in Irish theatre-making processes, which is central to the modernisation of design in Irish theatre.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siobhán O’Gorman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LincolnLincolnUK

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