Re:membrance of Absence Disrupting perceptions of Jewish and minority identity in Ireland through theatre
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This research examines social, historical and theoretical reasons that have contributed to the noticeable omission of minority voices, specifically Jewish voices, from Irish theatre narratives to date. The creation of the play Here Shall We Rest (HSWR) was the practical culmination of this investigation. Testimonials from eight participants around their experience as either Irish-Jewish or Jewish and resident in Ireland form the foundational material for the play text of HSWR. The qualitative research methodology employed here combines elements of ethnography and auto-ethnography, practice research and narrative enquiry. As a direct result of the work undertaken, I propose an early iteration of a new methodology for making theatre on minority culture: Third Voice Theatre. Inspired by S. Anksy’s Yiddish play Der Dibuk, HSWR follows the journey of a supernatural character through a liminal landscape inhabited by various narratives expressed in the fieldwork interviews I conducted. These stories expose complexities around Jewish identity, whether self-expressed or socially imposed. The play draws on my experience of perceptions of Jewish culture in Ireland as expressed by some non-Jews, and as non-Jewish myself. The play also seeks to address some of the misconceptions about Jewish heritage and incidences of antisemitisim in Ireland through social and historical lenses. Creating a piece of theatre on this subject allowed me to reimagine negative representations of Jewish characters in Irish theatre. This processes also enabled me to question the reasons why there remains a dearth of Jewish and minority voices in Irish theatre. The presentation of Jewish voices on the Irish stage remains a largely unresearched area as this thesis demonstrates. Examining the influencing factors that contribute to the omission of minority voices from the Irish canon in a practice research capacity is my original contribution to the field of theatre performance studies. By addressing the issues identified in relation to Jewish identity I aspire to expand this and similar conversations to include other ethnic minorities. The overall aim of this work is the disruption of hegemonic narratives of cultural and national Self in Irish theatre narratives.
Third Voice Theatre