Martin McDonagh: A Staged Irishman

Steven Price

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Abstract :
Martin McDonagh is one of the most important figures in the new generation of British playwrights that emerged in the 1990s. Born and bred in London but of Irish parentage, he is often held to represent a new form of ‘Anglo-Irishness’ that repudiates familiar constructions of nationality while remaining indebted to a tradition of Irish drama initiated by J. M. Synge, leading to suggestions that he is essentially a pasticheur. McDonagh himself claims little first-hand knowledge of this tradition, however, and he might more accurately be said to inhabit a postmodern world in which traditions are mediated by popular culture, especially television situation comedy and American cinema. He typifies a generation of dramatists for whom American influences are more pervasive than those of either England or Ireland, and whose ideas have been shaped less by theatre than by television, film and music. McDonagh’s plays thereby retain an ironic distance from the Irish writers he is sometimes said to imitate; the challenge instead will be to avoid too great an immersion in the popular culture of a newly ‘globalised’ Britain in which America is the dominant economic and cultural superpower.
Published : 2008-09-18


Steven Price, « Martin McDonagh: A Staged Irishman », Cycnos, 2008-09-18. URL :