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A murderer becomes the toast of the village as his charm negates his crime. A young countess saves her tenants from starvation, but only by selling her soul to the Devil. The sleepy parish of Nyadnanave sees a vision of a cockerel that dares the inhabitants to break the shackles of Church and State. All these plays were met with moral outrage and rioting in their native Ireland. Yeats’ “The Countess Cathleen” (1892), J. M. Synge’s “The Playboy of the Western World” (1907) and O’Casey’s “Cock-a-doodle Dandy” (1949) emerged from a period of traumatic change for Ireland. While the plays bear witness to the immense social upheavals of the turn of the twentieth century, they also represent a new age of Irish drama that rose from the turmoil, and their lessons ring true to this day.
About the Author
J.M. Synge was born in 1871. 1n 1895 he went to Paris and in the following year met W. B. Yeats and consequently joined the Irish League. He was first a literary adviser and then a director of the Abbey Theatre, and his own plays appeared in repertory. He died in 1909. Sean O’Casey was born in Dublin in 1880. In 1926 he moved to England. He discouraged any professional performances of his plays in Ireland after the Archbishop of Dublin refused to inaugurate the Dublin festival if his play The Drums of Father Ned (1958) was included. He died in 1964. W. B. Yeats, the irish dramatist, poet, autobiographer, critic and occult philosopher, was born in 1865. At the age of nineteen he attended an art school in Dublin, but already his central interest was in writing. Towards the end of his life he enjoyed many honours, including the Nobel Prize and membership of the Irish Senate. He died in France in 1939.