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Kerry Playwright : Sense of Place in the Plays of John B. Keane (Hardcover)

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This volume presents a way of reading the work of Kerry playwright John B. Keane. In it, Sister Marie Hubert Kealy focuses on the use of place as an interpretative device and suggests that sense of place can both situate the action of a drama and provide a context for examining social issues. Keane's works are well suited to such a focus because he has the gift of projecting universal human struggles into the characters and events of a specific region.
An examination of the importance of John B. Keane in contemporary Irish literature cuts across the genres of drama, fiction, and non-fiction; however, Keane is best known as a playwright. His appreciation of place and his adapting the spirit of his own locale to the stage provides a way into the meaning of contemporary drama. His plays stand somewhere between the perceived traditions of rural Ireland and the inroads of the modern world. Keane's popularity results, at least in part, from his creation of characters native to his landscape, who embody both the cultural and emotional associations of the rural Irish and the universal conflicts between tradition and modernity.
This study examines place as a key to meaning. It interprets the use of specific stage conventions as a signal of the cultural heritage of Ireland. Keane's use of regional characters, dialects, songs, and costumes - as well as the cottage setting - provides a frame for the playwright's view of Ireland, since he tends toward a critical examination of Irish life within the context of folklore and traditional values. Thus, sense of place, heightened by the selectivity of art, results in a way of seeing reality. The literary landscape creates a relationship between the artist and his audience based on their shared heritage.
Although Keane employs traditional themes - the made-marriage, land, emigration - his angle of vision shifts the familiar motifs from the political interests of the early Abbey plays to a concern for the individual within the system. The same conventions that evoke the Kerry landscape also comprise a frame of reference for the thematic concerns of his plots. Traditional characters juxtaposed with contemporary issues result in the dual thrust of nostalgia and criticism that marks his plays. He attacks with laughter the narrowness of the institutions that constrict individuality, yet he expresses a nostalgia for the old ways that have disappeared. Such a dual vision is Keane's share of the satiric gift.
John B. Keane speaks for and to his generation. His work is regional in the best sense. By drawing on the importance of place in Irish culture, Keane orders his perceptions of contemporary life. He deserves to be recognized as a playwright who expresses the struggle for individual identity against a background of cultural expectations.


Publisher Susquehanna Univ Pr
Mfg Part# 9780945636540
SKU 202920482
Format Hardcover
ISBN10 0945636547
Release Date 1/1/1994
Product Attributes
Book Format Hardcover
Number of Pages 0137
Publisher Susquehanna University Press
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