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date: 20 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In the first debates over the form the national theatre movement should take, it would seem as if the Ibsenites, George Moore and Edward Martyn, lost out to Yeats with his emphasis on a mythico-poetic theatre. However, a realist model of theatre, introduced first by the Fays influenced by Antoine, took root and was to become the Abbey’s dominant form, so much so that Yeats would admit in 1919 that the dominance of realism in the Irish theatre had become for him ‘a discouragement and a defeat’. This chapter argues that the tradition of Irish realism as manifested in the plays of T. C. Murray, Lennox Robinson, R. J. Ray, and others begins as a form of social critique, predicated on the belief that reflecting Irish society accurately would form the grounds for addressing social issues. However, as realism evolved in Irish theatre, it increasingly lost its critical edge.

Keywords: realism, Abbey Theatre, W. B. Yeats, T. C. Murray, Lennox Robinson, R. J. Ray

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