John Millington Synge, highly controversial in his own time and long established as a major figure of world theatre, has nonetheless suffered relative critical neglect. Where his great contemporaries Yeats and Joyce, and his outstanding successor Beckett, have attracted whole industries of scholarly attention, Synge by reason of his short life and limited output has been relegated to the unconsidered category of minor classic....
An artist as meticulous as Synge does not introduce or mention characters for no reason. Father Reilly is included because he is an integral part of the play's meaning. In fact, the structure of the play makes no sense unless Father Reilly and Sean Keogh are seen in a father-son relationship. Christy's manumission--his change from stuttering lout to master of all future fights--contrasts with Sean's continued submission. At the opening curtain, Christy and Shawn are coequal, even though a terrified Christy thinks he has murdered his "da." By the final curtain, one man has changed, and the other has not. The implication of that change--that tyrannical fathers should and can be overthrown--is at the heart of the play. Unwilling ever to gainsay Father Reilly, Shawn will remain forever in his power. Although Father Reilly never appears on stage, he remains a formidable figure in the life of Shawn Keogh. The Father's absence, in fact, proves more powerful than the ravings of Old Mahon, who ultimately praises his son for declaring "I'm master of all fights from now." Ironically, the priest's off-stage "presence" provides Synge the means to criticize the Church's pervasive authority and Shawn's "blind faith."
In Rose Eichenbaum's third work on the confluence of art making and human expression, she delves into the lives of thirty-five celebrated actors through intimate conversations and photographic portraits. With her probing questions and disarming manner, she captures the essential character of her subjects while shining a light on the art that defines them. The work provides extraordinary insights on the craft of acting with discussions of process, techniques, tools of the trade, and how to advice for aspiring actors from seasoned veterans. These stars of stage and screen, known for signature roles and critically acclaimed performances, emerge in The Actor Within with masks and wardrobe removed. Here, they speak their own lines, tell their own stories, and raise the curtain on what it means to live the actor's life--the challenge of mastering their craft, the drama of big breaks and career woes, the search for meaningful roles, and above all, having the courage to bare their souls before theater audiences or the camera. For the artists featured in this work, acting is more than a profession; it is how they make their way in the world and artfully merge their inner sense of humanness with universal truths. This collection serves as an important inspirational resource for anyone interested in making art, regardless of medium.
The Actor Within includes interviews with Karl Malden, Ruby Dee, Ed Harris, Piper Laurie, Marcia Gay Harden, William H. Macy, Ellen Burstyn, Joe Mantegna, Debra Winger, Julia Stiles, Elliott Gould, Elijah Wood, Stockard Channing, Bill Pullman, Amanda Plummer, Marlee Matlin, Charles Durning, Marsha Mason, and many others.
However, Orellana’s (2009) work Translating Childhoods: Immigrant Youth, Language, and Culture, and Fong’s (2004) study Only Hope: Coming of Age under China’s One-Child Policy, challenge the normative views of the Western world by presenting the stories of children that may not have the typical childhood that most children are perceived to have, such as relaxing and playing with friends endlessly....
Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World" - Beirne, O'donnel
Analysis of "Playboys" political sway
Play volumes and adaptions
"Twentieth century interpretations of The playboy of the Western World: a collection of critical essays"
Event Cycle - Playboy of the Western World
by John Millington Synge
The "Playboy" riots
January 28th, 1907
"unmitigated, protracted libel upon Irish peasant men and, worse still, upon Irish peasant girlhood."
Performances to Follow
Riots continued for weeks after
Actors toured America
Players were put on trial and thrown in jail
The offstage audience, thrown off guard by the comedy of the opening scenes, erupted at the word “shifts” (a woman’s chemise) in the third act.
While at times she falls into the same generalization trap that she accuses the Western women of making, she ultimately proves that the feminist believe that Third World societies oppress all women elevates the Western world view as the superior one again and is similar to the colonialism of previous times....
Nicholas Grene, in Synge: A Critical Study of the Plays, describes the play as "puzzling, and a common reaction to seeing or reading [it] for the first time is complete bewilderment," an observation that might explain why Mavis Brown, in "Christy's Two Fathers" (The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies), omitted the most overbearing father of them all, the Irish priest. Despite the play's bewildering effect on audiences and readers, it has remained popular and has become a staple of the Abbey Theatre. (In the summer of 2005, a Dublin performance was highly acclaimed.) This was not the case in January 1907, when few praised it and one person famously defended it, W.B. Yeats. Mostly audiences, reviewers, letter writers, and especially nationalist politicians fulminated about those aspects of the play that they found offensive: the suggestion that an Irish lass would ever appear in her "shift" before a stranger; the drunkenness; the swearing; the invocation of God's name, as well as numerous saints; the mention of the Widow Quin rearing a black ram at her breast, "so that the Lord Bishop of Connaught felt the elements of a Christian, and he eating it after in a kidney stew"; the condoning of Christy's parricide and the Widow Quin's killing of her husband; the suggestion that the west of Ireland was a refuge for scofflaws; the willingness of a father to leave his unmarried daughter overnight unchaperoned; the psychological implication that landless sons would like to kill their fathers to inherit the farms; and the contention that the country had been depopulated of real men, leaving behind only weaklings, like Shawn Keogh, who are in the paralyzing and pernicious grip of the Catholic Church.
Admittedly, to this day, people cannot agree on the play's meaning. Like all great literature, Playboy lends itself to a number of readings: as a traditional comedy, in which a parent tries to obstruct the union of two would-be lovers; as a spoof of traditional comedy, in which the suitor rejects the woman and goes off with his father; as a stage demonstration of the Irish proverb "praise a lad and he'll prosper," in which the hero's propensity for poetry corresponds to his growth in self-esteem; as a biographical play, in which the poet repeatedly speaks of loss and loneliness, feelings that express Synge's own unhappy love affair with a young actress (Molly Allgood); as a reversal of gender roles, in which the men are feminized and the women masculinized; as a dialectic of Irish independence, proceeding from occupation, through nationalism, to liberation; or as a social critique, in which Synge rebukes domineering Irish fathers and emasculated sons under the guise of satirizing provincial villagers in the west of Ireland.
Philip Cioffari is the author of the novels: DARK ROAD, DEAD END; JESUSVILLE; CATHOLIC BOYS; and the short story collection, A HISTORY OF THINGS LOST OR BROKEN, which won the Tartt Fiction Prize, and the D. H. Lawrence award for fiction. His short stories have been published widely in commercial and literary magazines and anthologies, including North American Review, Playboy, Michigan Quarterly Review, Northwest Review, Florida Fiction, and Southern Humanities Review. He has written and directed for Off and Off-Off Broadway. His Indie feature film, which he wrote and directed, LOVE IN THE AGE OF DION, has won numerous awards, including Best Feature Film at the Long Island Int’l Film Expo, and Best Director at the NY Independent Film & Video Festival. He is a Professor of English, and director of the Performing and Literary Arts Honors Program, at William Paterson University.
Synge’s favorite setting is the rural west of Ireland, a place where he found the roots of a dialect he made his own playwriting voice. Melodious and poetic though the language of may be, it is not always the easiest to decipher for any audience. Dialect coupled with thick accents makes for the occasional confusing or missed meaning throughout the evening, but Mullins and the performers have managed to find clarity for the most part. Even when the language is occasionally alienating, the effect is a compelling sense of foreignness, as if we are voyeurs on a culture that we are not able to understand fully.