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date: 20 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The career of the playwright Frank McGuinness encapsulates the trajectory of identity politics in Ireland since the mid-1980s. McGuiness first achieved major recognition for Observe the Sons of Ulster in 1985, a play by a Catholic playwright exploring the Ulster Unionist psyche and a continuum of male relationships from the homosexual to the homosocial. This play set the template for McGuinness’ future work, in which characters cross the expected boundaries of gender and cultural identity in ways that both transgress and respect existing categories. His later plays, such as Carthaginians (1988), Someone Who’ll Watch OverMe (1992), Mutabilitie (1997), and Gates of Gold (2002), all incorporate slightly different perspectives on the general topics of Other, difference, and identity. Dramatic form reinforces those thematic concerns, and both characters and audiences must confront their own realities and negotiate differences.

Keywords: identity politics, Observe the Sons of Ulster, Carthaginians, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, Mutabilitie, Gates of Gold

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