'Modernism in The Maze : translating Armand Gatti’s Northern Ireland plays for the present day'

Carole-Anne Upton

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    During a period of self-imposed exile in Northern Ireland in 1980-1981, Armand Gatti wrote three versions of a play responding to the contemporary events of the IRA hunger strikes in HM Prison The Maze (also known as ‘Long Kesh’), The plays are entitled Le Labyrinthe and Le Labyrinthe tel qu’il a été écrit par les habitants de Derry. The first version was translated into Italian and performed in Genoa and the second was subsequently performed in French in Avignon, with a third version developed in Toulouse, they have never been translated into English or performed in Northern Ireland. This paper offers preliminary reflections from the outset of the process of translating and reworking the material with a view to contemporary performance in Derry, thirty years on. The particular focus here is on the ethics and aesthetics of incorporating multiple perspectives into a recreation of a work composed at the height of the Troubles for reconsideration in a contemporary post-conflict context.Though Gatti refused to align himself with modernist movements, his work confronts what he sees as a colonial politics of oppression through a challenging and fragmented aesthetic, whose goal is more exploratory than interpretative. The Maze plays experiment with radical dramaturgical techniques for challenging hegemonic narratives of history, notably through the use of ‘le selmaire’ a structural technique based on Chinese popular performance and designed to facilitate multiple perspectives. Taken together, these pieces provide a fragmented critique of traditional theatre forms, a self-reflexive attempt to deconstruct the very process of representation. They address in particular the impossibility of adequately representing the experience of the hunger strikes on stage and explore the spectrum of nationalist debate at the time of the hunger strikes. Gatti’s scripts are contextualised by a series of essays, interviews, a film and other artefacts and reflections from his work in Ulster; to date limited critical attention has been paid to this fascinating body of work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
    PublisherInternational Federation for Theatre Research
    Number of pages0
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 26 Jul 2010
    EventInternational Federation of Theatre Research World Congress 2010, "Cultures of Modernity" - Ludwig Maximiliens Universitat, Munich
    Duration: 26 Jul 2010 → …


    ConferenceInternational Federation of Theatre Research World Congress 2010, "Cultures of Modernity"
    Period26/07/10 → …


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