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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

By the 1950s, distinct strands of rural and urban Irish theatre were prompted by the clash of traditional mores with major social and political changes in Ireland. Three playwrights, M. J. Molloy, John B. Keane, and Hugh Leonard, came to represent the rural and urban sensibility of theatre at that time. All three were interested in how traditional Irish values and practices fitted in with the Ireland emerging around them. The ways in which the three playwrights reacted to an urbanizing, modernizing culture illustrates how the theatre of their generation was conditioned by a national perspective that was failing to assimilate profound societal change. Molloy, essentially conservative, promoted ideas of self-sacrifice, while Keane implicitly endorsed a liberal humanist protest against repression. Hugh Leonard’s satires on suburbia wrote out rural Ireland as a thing of the past, although he retained some vestiges of the country kitchen play in his work.

Keywords: rural and urban, modernization, self-sacrifice, liberal humanism, satires on suburbia

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