While most accounts of Irish theatre begin with the Abbey theatre, Chris Morash's comprehensive study goes back three centuries earlier to Ireland's first theatre. Written in an accessible style, yet drawing extensively on unpublished sources, it traces an often forgotten history leading up to the Irish Literary Revival, and then follows that history to the present. The main chapters are each followed by shorter chapters, focusing on a single night at the theatre. Morash creates a remarkably clear picture of the cultural contexts which produced the playwrights who have been responsible for making Irish theatre's world-wide historical and contemporary reputation. Morash also deals with aspects of Irish theatre often ignored, including audiences, performance styles, architecture, management and other aspects of Irish theatrical culture. This book is an essential, entertaining and highly original guide to the history and performance of Irish theatre.
'An excellent book that covers an astonishing range of plays. An essential study for anyone interested in Irish theatre.' Frank McGuinness 'A brilliant and ground-breaking book written with great wit and elegance. Morash provides an immensely enlightening and entertaining approach, quite unlike anything that has been done before. This brilliant book establishes the social significance of theatre in Ireland. I haven't read anything else that gives such a sense of the theatrical present of past ages.' Bernard O'Donoghue 'Christopher Morash has produced an excellent book. A History of Irish Theatre 1601-2000 covers an astonishing range of plays, players and their audiences. It charts with impressive clarity the directions that Irish writers have followed in the making of theatre. He crosses the bridge from library to theatre with great accuracy. This book is an essential study for anyone interested in extending the critical and creative vocabulary of its subject.' Frank McGuinness 'The author's scholarship is admirable as his touch is light.' Irish Sunday Independent 'Unearths fascinating social and historical detail ...' Irish Independent 'A masterful study ... Morash tells his story in a beautifully crisp prose which is joyfully free of academic encumberances. Morash's politico-historical account, combined with his encyclopedic knowledge of the country's stage, [makes this] a brilliantly balanced study.' Scotland on Sunday 'Morash's story ... is told in a highly commendable manner. The research that has gone into the making of the book is impeccable ...' Anglistik '... contains an invaluable chronology of theatre and politics ... there are no barrens in A History of Irish Theatre. It justly won the theatre Book Prize, 2002. Future scholarly work will have to start from here and theatre lovers will remain forever indebted to Morash's highly entertaining, thought-provoking, and scholarly triumph.' YES 'Overall, Morash's writing style is agreeable, fluid, light, but never lightweight, making it a delightful read. ... What makes this book an important contribution is its readability, its relatively jargon free approach, its focus on performance and the sense of ease Morash brings to the task.' Irish Theatre Magazine '... wonderful ... By insisting on the use of archival evidence - as well as textual interpretation - Morash demonstrates that Irish theatre criticism may be speculative without being fanciful, imaginative without being undisciplined.' Field Day Review