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date: 17 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

One measure of a great performer is his or her capacity to define a major role for a generation. This chapter considers the acting styles and achievement of four such performers in some of their principal parts: Siobhán McKenna from her internationally acclaimed playing of Shaw’s Saint Joan to her last part, as Mommo in Murphy’s Bailegangaire; Cyril Cusack as Christy Mahon, the Shaughraun, and Drumm in Hugh Leonard’s A Life; Donal McCann as Frank Hardy in Friel’s Faith Healer, the Captain in Juno and the Paycock, and Thomas Dunne in Sebastian Barry’s The Steward of Christendom; the tour de force of Marie Mullen playing five different roles in DruidSynge. Tracing the work of these four actors over more than half a century allows the particular achievement of each to emerge, as do the points at which their careers overlap, allowing us to discern a distinctive Irish tradition of acting.

Keywords: acting, performance, Siobhán McKenna, Cyril Cusack, Donal McCann, Marie Mullen

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