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Sons of the Tiger: Performing Neoliberalism, Post-Feminism, and Masculinity in ‘Crisis’ in Contemporary Irish Theatre

  • Cormac O’Brien
Chapter

Abstract

Marina Carr’s 2009 play Marble presents the spectator with a world of material possessions beyond any sense of need, of beautiful homes kept by trophy wives, and of married men cocooned in a bubble of wealth and masculine privilege.1 The male protagonists, Art and Ben, long-time friends and executive colleagues, embody the Celtic Tiger dream of high-flying careers with corporate-bonus-culture salaries. Yet, both men have reached an existential impasse in their lives. Without meaning to, or even realizing it, Art has fallen out of love with his wife Anne. Ben thinks that he loves his wife Catherine, but in reality, he carries flawed and unreconstruct ed ideas about what love and marriage mean, particularly when it comes to power structures and female choice. Neither man really knows his children, and both are blissfully ignorant of domestic goings-on. In their professional lives, regardless of their ability to annihilate the competition, they take little solace in their glories on the corporate battlefield. Despite seeming to have it all, both men have reached a plateau of stagnancy, searching for meaning in lives that have become comfortably — yet terrifyingly — mundane.

Keywords

Anorexia Nervosa Hegemonic Masculinity Port Authority Masculine Identity Social Script 
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. 1.
    Marina Carr, Marble, in Plays 2 (London: Faber and Faber, 2009). Marble first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 10 February 2009. Directed by Jeremy Herrin, designed by Robert Innes Hopkins. Cast: Stuart McQuarrie (Art), Peter Hanly (Ben), Aisling O’Sullivan (Catherine), Derbhle Crotty (Anne). Subsequent page-number references to Marble in this chapter will be made in parentheses in the body of the text.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Debbie Ging, ‘All-consuming images: new gender formations in post-Celtic-Tiger Ireland’, in Debbie Ging, Peadar Kirby and Michael Cronin (eds), Transforming Ireland: Challenges, Critiques, Resources (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009), 56.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    See Leo Braudy’s chapters, ‘Honor in No Man’s Land’ and ‘Death at a distance’ in his book From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity (New York: Vintage Books, 2005).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    See Sandra M. Gilbert, ‘Soldier’s heart: literary men, literary women, and the great war’, Signs 8 (3) (Spring 1983).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Fintan Walsh, Male Trouble: Masculinity and the Performance of Crisis, (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 3.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    Robert Massey, Rank (London: Nick Hern Books, 2008). Rank first produced by Fishamble Theatre Company, on 2 October 2008, at the Helix, Dublin, as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. Directed by Jim Culleton, designed by Bláithín Sheerin, lighting design by Mark Galione. Cast: Bryan Murray (Jack Farrell), Luke Griffin (Fred Farrell), Alan King (Carl Conway), Eamonn Hunt (George Kelly), John Lynn (Two in the Bush).Google Scholar
  7. 16.
    Sean McLoughlin, Big Ole Piece of Cake (London: Nick Hern Books, 2010). Big Ole Piece of Cake originally produced by Fishamble Theatre Company at the Civic Theatre, Tallaght, Dublin, 2 November 2010. Directed by Jim Culleton, designed by Sinead O’Hanlon, lighting designed by Mark Gallone. Cast: Joe Hanley (Ray), Mark Lambert (Clarence), Ian Lloyd Anderson (Colin).Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    Karen Fricker, ‘Same Old Show: the performance of masculinity in Conor McPherson’s Port Authority and Mark O’Rowe’s Made in China’, Irish Review 29 (2002), 84–95 (85).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 19.
    Eamonn Jordan, Dissident Dramaturgies: Contemporary Irish Theatre (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2010), 222.Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    Brian Singleton, Masculinities and the Contemporary Irish Theatre (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2011), 71.Google Scholar
  11. 21.
    Kevin Wallace, ‘Shame shame shame: masculinity, intimacy and narrative in Conor McPherson’s Shining City’, in Lilliam Chambers and Eamonn Jordan (eds), The Theatre of Conor McPherson: Right Beside the Beyond (Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2012), 94.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    Conor McPherson, Rum and Vodka, in Four Plays (London: Nick Hern Books, 1999), 13. Rum and Vodka first performed at University College Dublin, 27 November 1992. Directed by Conor McPherson, performed by Stephen Walshe. First professional production by Fly By Night Theatre Company, City Arts Centre, Dublin, 30 August, 1994. Directed by Colin O’Connor, performed by Jason Byrne. Subsequent page-number references to Rum and Vodka in this chapter will be made in parentheses in the body of the text.Google Scholar
  13. 23.
    Eugene O’Brien, Eden, in The Tiger in Winter: Six Contemporary Irish Plays, ed. John Fairleigh, (London: Methuen Drama, 2006). Eden first performed at the Peacock Theatre, Dublin, 18 January 2001. Directed by Conor McPherson, designed by Bláithín Sheerin, lighting by Paul Keoghan. Cast: Don Wycherley (Billy), Catherine Walsh (Breda).Google Scholar
  14. 28.
    Angela McRobbie, ‘Post-feminism and popular culture’, Feminist Media Studies, 4 (3) (2004), 255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 30.
    Yvonne Tasker and Diane Negra, ‘Introduction: feminist politics and postfeminist culture’, in Yvonne Tasker and Diane Negra (eds), Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2007), 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 32.
    Gerardine Meaney, Gender, Ireland and Cultural Change: Race, Sex and Nation, (London: Routledge, 2010), xiv.Google Scholar
  17. 38.
    Anthony Clare, On Men: Masculinity in Crisis (London: Chatto and Windus, 2000), 4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Cormac O’Brien 2014

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  • Cormac O’Brien

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