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Contexts for Frank McGuinness’s Drama

Contexts for Frank McGuinness's Drama

by Helen Heusner Lojek

5.50 x 8.50 in

  • Hardcover
  • 9780813213569
  • Published: January 2004




Since his debut on the Irish theater scene with The Factory Girls (1982), Frank McGuinness has been his generation's most prolific and significant playwright, earning applause and awards throughout the English-speaking world (and beyond) for such plays as Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme (1984) and Someone Who'll Watch Over Me (1994). Contexts for Frank McGuinness's Drama is the most complete consideration of the playwright yet published, including discussion of his original stage work through Gates of Gold (2002) and highlighting the connections between McGuinness's creativity and the biographical, geographical, social, and literary factors that have shaped his world.

The study makes extensive use of the largely unexamined collection of primary materials McGuinness has deposited in the University College Dublin library. It also draws heavily on extended interviews with the playwright and with directors and actors who have worked with him. A thorough examination of contemporary reviews and production histories completes the complex background against which both texts and productions are examined.

Accessible to both new and experienced students of Irish theater, the book balances close attention to text with awareness of production factors. It illuminates the work of a playwright whose themes and techniques are strikingly varied and reveals the importance of his ongoing legacy.

Helen Heusner Lojek is Professor of English at Boise State University. She is the author of numerous articles and reviews and editor of The Theatre of Frank McGuinness: Stages of Mutability (2002).


"The research on display here, culled from private and public archival material, cannot fail to impress.... Without making extravagant claims for its own theoretical tools, or any particularly innovative analyses of the relationship of the playwright to the plays, Helen Heusner Lojek's book builds up a convincingly rounded picture of a writer at work. At the end, readers will feel that they know Frank McGuinness. And that is reward enough."- Chris Morash, Times Literary Supplement

"[T]he most successful, monograph to date about this dramatist, whose impact has arguably been greater than any Irish playwright since Brian Friel.... Helen Lojek's lucidly written book offers a cogent set of arguments by bringing new material and original insights to bear on a playwright whose work deserves the increasing attention that it has at last begun to receive.... Contexts for Frank McGuiness's Drama will prove both productive for graduate and undergraduate classroom use and foundational for the subsequent critical work on McGuiness that Lojek both facilitates and inspires here."- Brian Cliff, New Hibernia Review

"This is a brilliantly written book that offers great theatrical, cultural and political analysis of the plays of Frank McGuinness, one of Ireland's foremost playwrights. Helen Lojek not only draws on the written texts but also on the plays in performance as she uses interviews, draft materials and a whole host of other sources to inform her terrific, discerning and invaluable work."—Eamonn Jordan, editor of Theatre Stuff: Critical Essays on Contemporary Irish Theatre

"This long-awaited full-length study of the foremost Irish playwright of his generation is beautifully written, meticulously researched and informed by a sensitive analysis of how the plays work in performance. Lojek focuses on such crucial issues as class and power, representations of the artist and of a range of sexual identities to illuminate McGuinness's powerful, multifaceted drama. This is work of the highest distinction, a landmark in dramatic criticism and an importan