Alternative Ulster: Upstaging the State in Contemporary Northern Irish Drama

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This paper undertakes a comparative analysis of a range of contemporary Northern Irish dramas dealing with the Troubles. Each of the plays has set out to present an ‘alternative’ to a specific set of discourses in the representation of the conflict in Northern Ireland: a rebuttal of Republican claims for support south of the border; an exposition of the role of the police in brutalising nationalists; an alternative vision for the future of Protestantism. Each, nonetheless, is constrained in its intent by the limitations of the representations provided, in its failure to embrace more fully the totality of the situation. The omission of the role of the British from representations of the violence has contributed to discourses which have camouflaged the actual role of the British state in the conflict. It is an omission characteristic of virtually all plays about the Troubles. Such limitations led each of the plays to a complicity with a wider discourse in which the conflict is seen as internal to Northern Ireland where the Troubles are represented as an impenetrable dance macabre where history, politics and religion have provided the accompaniment for two opposing but hopelessly interlocked tribes. The ‘alternative Ulster’ which emerges is an alternative to the enlightened, the civilised, rational, the taken for granted of the rest of Britain. Northern Ireland is a place where normality has been suspended and where ordinary human beings enter at their peril: a heart of darkness just across the Irish Sea.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherUniversity of Reading
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2004
EventPolitical Futures: Alternative Theatre in Britain Today - University of Reading
Duration: 1 Jan 2004 → …


ConferencePolitical Futures: Alternative Theatre in Britain Today
Period1/01/04 → …


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