Queer identities during the Troubles in Northern Ireland: the birth of queer theatre in Northern Ireland.

Corr, Joseph (2020) Queer identities during the Troubles in Northern Ireland: the birth of queer theatre in Northern Ireland. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

'Exploring Queer Identities in Plays Written During the Troubles in Northern Ireland (1969-1998)' is the first truly concerted attempt to examine the placing of non-heteronormative characters into Irish or Northern Irish plays set within the time frame of the Troubles. These plays are few in number, comprising Brian Friel's The Gentle Island, Martin Lynch's Crack Up, Ecce Homo (written/devised by Joe Reid and Belfast Community Theatre) and Frank McGuinness's Carthaginians (alongside drafts of its earlier incarnation as Friends). The critical thesis begins by exploring the reasons for the scarcity of queer dramatic representation at this time, before focusing on the representation of queer characters within its corpus, and exploring the thematic and dramatic reasons for their inclusion. It proceeds through close textual analysis of all four of the plays, while consulting the writings of scholars, theatre practitioners and queer theorists alongside sociohistorical developments. Its final chapter also draws on archival material by McGuinness, which fills in a gap in the evolution of queer identity in Northern Irish theatre. The critical thesis as a whole traces an arc from the queer character deployed as a disruptive mechanism in Brian Friel’s early play The Gentle Island to fully-formed and unapologetic queer characterisation in McGuinness’ 1988 play Carthaginians. The insights of the critical thesis provide a context and a supplement to the creative thesis.

In writing my own three plays I provide a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of Northern Ireland’s LGBT+ community during the Troubles, giving them a place in the country’s history. My play Pet Shop Boy, set in 1980’s East Belfast, looks at the Troubles and the queer experience through a Protestant lens, a viewpoint that has been overlooked. It explores queer identity through the coming out process of the sixteen-year-old protagonist, and uses the DUP’s Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign as a means to highlight the underlying societal homophobia that existed at the time. My second play Quarry, also set in the Protestant community, explores queer identity by going right to the heart of the Troubles, looking at toxic masculinity and queer identity inside a paramilitary unit. The final play in my collection places the queer Northern Irish experience in a modern-day context, examining how the Troubles of the past have shaped both the older and younger queer generations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2020 08:29
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2020 08:29
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/77728
DOI:

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