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date: 24 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Though best known as a poet, Yeats gave much of his time, energy and commitment throughout his career to writing plays, running the Abbey and thinking about forms of theatre. Central to both his theory and practice is the concept of theatre as performance ritual. He experimented with many different forms in the pursuit of this goal: the Shakespearean poetic drama of On Baile’s Strand, the first of a cycle of plays centred on the Irish mythological character of Cuchulain; the Noh-based plays for dancers including At the Hawk’s Well and The Dreaming of the Bones; the late minimalist dream play of Purgatory. This chapter, covering the full range of the Collected Plays, unpacks Yeats’s evolving ideas of theatre and his sometimes frustrating efforts made to realise them.

Keywords: ritual, performance, dance plays, dream play, Cuchulain

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