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Reading the Irish WomanStudies in Cultural Encounter and Exchange, 1714-1960$

Gerardine Meaney, Mary O'Dowd, and Bernadette Whelan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318924

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846318924.001.0001

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Sexual and Aesthetic Dissidences: Women and the Gate Theatre, 1929–60

Sexual and Aesthetic Dissidences: Women and the Gate Theatre, 1929–60

(p.196) 6 Sexual and Aesthetic Dissidences: Women and the Gate Theatre, 1929–60
Reading the Irish Woman

Gerardine Meaney

Mary O'dowd

Bernadette Whelan

Liverpool University Press

Abstract and Keywords

Chapter six focuses in particular on the programme of plays produced by the Gate theatre from its foundation in 1929 to 1960. It points to the mixture of popular and more challenging modernist productions presented in the Gate during these years. The diversity and range of work by women in this period has been overlooked until recently by Irish literary history. These productions were part of The Gate's diverse programme which indicates that theatre-goers were equally willing to attend plays by Dorothy Sayers, Anton Chekov and Eugene O’Neill and promiscuously mixed ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture. Chapter six also examines the Gate as a spaces of cultural and sexual dissidence in Dublin, suggesting a trace of an ‘other’ city, where both gender and other forms of identity were much more fluid than in official Ireland. The relationship between aesthetic and sexual freedom is a key theme in Irish writing in the post-independence period, but also an important point of intersection with both modernist and realist writing by women in the inter-war years. This chapter explores the paradox by which Christa Winsloe's ‘Children in Uniform’ could be performed on the Dublin stage in 1934, albeit to discretely subdued acclaim, but ‘Gone with the Wind’ could not be screened without significant cuts until 1968. Class and particularly the desire to control the cultural life of the working class is obviously key here, but analysis of Irish modernism in all its forms create a more complex picture. The permeability of the boundaries between high and low cultural forms and the processes of cultural exchange mediated questions of the ‘proper’ role of women in domestic, national and international contexts

Keywords:   Modernism in Ireland, Theatre, Popular Literature, Women Writers


The previous chapter argued that the concept of vernacular modernism provided a useful framework within which to examine Irish women's cultural practices in the first half of the twentieth century. This chapter elaborates on this suggestion through a focus on theatre and particularly the Gate Theatre in Dublin. The modernist agenda of the Gate Theatre provided women playwrights with considerable opportunity for experiment. More generally the Gate Theatre was a forum where new and often radical ideas about modern women were presented to a public audience untroubled for the most part by the vigilance of the censor's supervision. The aim of this chapter is to examine women's engagement as producers of plays performed by the Gate Theatre and the representation of women in non-Irish authored productions. While film and fiction were censored and policed to an extraordinary degree in the Irish state between the 1930s and 1950s, no official censorship of plays staged in Dublin was established after 1922. Nevertheless, Joan Fitzpatrick Dean's Riot and Great Anger: Stage Censorship in Twentieth-Century Ireland has identified a high level of unofficial censorship in operation in the period. Vigilance was exercised by theatre audiences and moral panics were occasionally stirred up by the newspapers or religious groups, but theatrical programming was nonetheless capable of circumventing some of the restrictions operating in other media.1

The Gate Theatre, established in 1929 by Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir in Dublin, showcased international, experimental theatre (p.197) and staged new Irish plays, but it remained financially viable by combining this with reviving classics and staging popular genre theatre. The viability of the theatre was not initially assured and in 1931, after two years in operation, a financial rescue by Lord Longford created a relationship which lasted five years until disagreements resulted in a complex arrangement by which Longford Productions and the MacLiammóir-Edwards Gate Theatre company each occupied the Gate Theatre stage for six months and toured for six months.2 This compulsory touring meant that the programmes of the two companies had an impact beyond the metropolitan theatre audience. Moreover, it shows both a consistent audience for drama written by women and, by implication from the programming, the importance of women theatre-goers to the theatre's survival. Work aimed at women theatre-goers was extremely important to the viability and programming of the Dublin theatres. Of the fifty-three new Irish plays produced by Edwards-MacLiammóir Gate Theatre Productions between 1936 and 1982, eleven (twenty–one per cent) were by women. They also brought work by European and US women playwrights to the Dublin stage, notably Christa Winsloe and Lillian Hellman. In contrast just eighty-five (twelve per cent) of the Abbey's 685 original Irish plays were by women, which may indicate a correlation between the staging of plays from outside of Ireland by women and openness to new work by Irish women or that the Gate's more eclectic programming was more conducive to women's participation or, more probably, a combination of both factors.

The Gate Theatre, Representations of Women and Women Playwrights

Theatre programmes from the tours of both Longford Productions and Edwards' and MacLiammóir's company indicate a fascinating mix of popular plays, adaptations and challenging modern work, which were promoted in provincial towns through a combination of diverse programming and the trappings of fashion and glamour. Longford Productions' second Irish tour in 1938 presented Christine Longford's adaptation of The Absentee from Maria Edgeworth's novel. The production was directed by Peter Powell, who added an odd programme note which referred to the enduring ‘wit, humour and characterisation’ of The Absentee and the extent to which reactions and (p.198) motives in the novel can ‘appear as laughable to our modern, fashionably disillusioned senses … I have endeavoured to preserve this charm and sincerity by presenting the play in a slightly mannered style of acting which, while it would not presume to laugh at the novel's sentiments, will allow the audience an enlightened smile at their expression.’ Having thus promised its audience delight and flattered them with the implication of modern sophistication, the production offers further glamour, with ‘costumes designed by Christine Longford and executed by Eileen Long and P. J. Bourke, hats by Nancy Beckh’.3 This emphasis on the details of costume indicates that women were a significant part of the provincial theatre audience and the touring companies were keen to attract their interest. The diverse touring programme also included Dorothy L. Sayers' Busman's Honeymoon.

The programme offered in the Gate Theatre by Edwards and MacLiammóir from February 1936 to July 1939 shows that the US playwright Gertrude Tonkonogy's Three-Cornered Moon was staged in February 1936 in a production directed by Sheelagh Richards. (It also featured in a Longford Production touring programme, reportedly very well received in Sligo.4) Three-Cornered Moon is a fast-paced romantic comedy which deals with the dramatic economic downfall of a New York family in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash in 1929. The film adaptation, starring Claudette Colbert, is widely credited as originating the screwball romantic comedy as a film genre. Three-Cornered Moon was first performed in the Cort Theatre in New York in 1933. It is concerned with the female-centred family of a wealthy widow, Mrs Rimplegear, who has spoiled her three sons and her daughter while she speculated on the stock market. The adult children are primarily characterised by boredom. The eldest son, Kenneth, cannot see the point of his job as a law clerk and the daughter Elizabeth feels she reached her zenith aged eighteen years. Elizabeth's narrative is initially very dark and expresses a great deal of dissatisfaction with the life available to a well-educated young woman without meaningful employment. She tells her boyfriend, an aspiring novelist called Donald: ‘Life's turned sour on me. Ever since I got out of college. I never told you … But for six or seven months now I've been in despair.’ Elizabeth generalises her depression, seeing it as typical of her generation: ‘I suppose a lot of young people get this way. It's a sort of weltschmertz. I've read about it – but I never knew how real a thing it was till it hit me. I hate everything that goes with life – all its people – all the things it's (p.199) got to offer.’ The play makes it clear that her mental state is linked to her lack of intellectual stimulation and motivation: ‘I was always so happy in college. There were so many intelligent things to find out – so many people to talk to – people with grand ideas – grand ideals.’ It is equally apparent that romance is no compensation for the loss of ideas and ideals. When Donald asks her, ‘What about me?’, she replies ‘I have this dreadful feeling that from now on a person just makes the best of things and grows old. Nothing will ever be the way it was when I was eighteen.’ In answer to his contention that she is ‘not exactly a person of wide experience’, she points out that she is instead a person of wide reading, ‘But I've read a lot. I know what I can expect. Only more music – more poetry – more sex. Nothing new. I think as I grow older I can only be content. But I don't want to live if I'm not actively happy. I don't want to compromise.’ The play in one of its characteristic reversals of expectation presents the male character as fulfilled by romance, the female one as needing a more purposeful existence. Donald ‘sorrowfully’ rebukes her: ‘You know if you really loved me, you wouldn't feel that life is empty.’ Elizabeth, insisting ‘Of course I love you,’ explains, ‘but I'm not so lopsided as you. No man could so completely fill my life that I could forget everything else.’ This dialogue takes an even darker turn when the dependent Donald answers, ‘If you're unhappy. I am too.’ Misquoting philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), Elizabeth contends ‘the best thing about life is that one has the prerogative of leaving it whenever one wishes’ and initially terrifies Donald by asking him to join her in ‘one grand beautiful exit’. He is nonetheless seduced into contemplating a double suicide by the idea that he could not live with her unhappiness or indeed without her.5

Their lurid discussion of means and methods of suicide descends into farce as the three Rimplegear brothers come on and off stage in sequence looking for their mother, expressing increasing agitation about the series of telegrams arriving at the house for her. The telegrams make clear Mrs Rimplegear has taken very bad financial advice and lost the entire $100,000 fortune which she was left outright by her husband on the stock market. At this point, the sons turn on their mother and Elizabeth emerges as the only one willing to take on adult responsibility: ‘Now, wait a minute – all of you. [Turning to the Boys] It isn't all mother's fault. She's right. After all, there's a house full of adults here. The least we could have done was to have realised how incompetent she was and taken things out of her hands’. It seems very unfair that the play blames the family's downfall on their mother's ignorance rather than the share speculation of the 1920s and the Wall Street Crash. The scatty indulgent mother becomes a representative of (p.200) the mindless hedonism of the 1920s, as her newly sensible daughter becomes representative of the seriousness and self-sacrifice of the 1930s. This shift of authority from mother to daughter is at the heart of the play. Mrs Rimplegar insists ‘I'm the head of the house and I must sign the checks.’ Dr Stevens, the ‘practical’ family friend, in love with Elizabeth, is the one who suggests she should not, but it is Elizabeth who persuades her, giving her the job of signing off on the weekly household accounts, and it is Elizabeth who takes on the job of signing cheques. While this is part of the traditional feminine task of managing the household, taking on the role her mother has failed to fulfil transforms not only Elizabeth, but the play. At this stage the suicide plot descends into complete farce, as if philosophy and modernism have been made ludicrous by recession. The suggestible Donald rushes down triumphantly having worked out a perfect suicide method but Elizabeth retorts, ‘Who the hell is looking for a suicide? I'm looking for a job. Where's the “Help Wanted” section of that paper?’6 The play is highly ambivalent about traditional gender roles, playing elaborate games with them. The narrative ultimately moves towards a nice normal marriage, however, setting the pattern for the screwball comedy where hapless sensible men and scatty but extraordinarily effective women do always end up together.

The critique of the constraints of proper femininity also recur. Despite her college education, Elizabeth begins her working life as a Macy's shop assistant. She progresses to become a stenographer on better pay, but loses her job for making a slightly racy, witty remark and ends up back at Macy's at half the salary. Finally realising her love for Dr Stevens, she does not lose the sharp edge to her wit, parodying his clinical manner and diagnosing him as the ‘strong capable type that breaks down easily and asks very obvious questions’. Continuing the play's series of gender reversals, Elizabeth proposes to Stevens, who responds, ‘Now wait a minute, don't rush me.’7 Even as she reassures him that being her sane and good husband will be enough for her, ‘You can leave out the poetry’ she reasserts herself, ‘and I'll say enough for both of us.’8 She quells Stevens' misgivings, ‘Did you quarrel with Donald? And now you're taking me on to fill the vacancy,’9 but her mother, who gets the last word, indicates there is something in this when she discovers them kissing:

Mrs R:

  • Why, look, it's Doctor Stevens. I thought it was Donald.
  • Elizabeth:

  • Yesterday it was Donald, Mother.
  • (p.201) Mrs R:

  • Oh, and today it's Doctor Stevens. [Pause.] Well, that's nice.
  • This scatty mother persona is also the maternal function without any prohibition or blame and Elizabeth's mastery over men and money as well as her frustration with propriety and lack of opportunity indicate the play's happy ending is not an unqualified endorsement of conventional gender roles.10

    The Gate in the 1930s seems to have been particularly attracted to Broadway and West End plays which express frustration with the limitations of middle-class life and convention. The thriller Third Party Risk by Gilbert Lennox and Gisela Ashley11 opened in Dublin in 1939 and appears to have had a successful run despite an Irish Times review praising the acting but dismissing the play as ‘feeble’.12 The play's first London performance was on 2 May 1939 at the St Martin's Theatre, so it was picked up very quickly by the Gate. A well-constructed thriller, the plot is set in motion when an over-worked nerve specialist, Sir David Lavering, has a row with his socialite wife, who is unreasonably jealous of his relationship with one of his patients. The patient, Ann Mordaunt, impulsively invites him to her cottage for the night. On the way they run over a tramp and the ensuing plot turns on their attempts to dispose of the body in order to avoid suspicion of the adultery they never get to enjoy. The incident cures them both of the inclination, though they enjoy one passionate kiss before she goes off to join her husband in Egypt.

    This is tame enough fare, but the suggestion of adultery and especially the kiss would have been most unlikely to get past the film censor. The drama depends on our sympathy with the aspirant adulterers. The wife's jealousy is instigated by her mother, Margaret, a silly woman obsessed with one fad after another, fed gossip by her embittered bachelor brother. The plot is very explicit that David's career and his marriage are hugely valued by him. Ann tells him that if they are forced to ‘to begin again’, it cannot be together as he will hate her for making him lose his career and marriage. His answer, according to the stage directions, comes ‘gently, after a brief pause, “Will you hate me?”’, and is answered by her parting kiss. The play is both relieved that the potential lovers have got away with their crime and exhibits a definite sense of regret as David returns to his daily routine, ringing ‘Next patient, please’ to his receptionist.

    (p.202) Bourgeois family values are upheld, but the price that is paid in terms of passion is also acknowledged. It is not Brief Encounter by any means, but its emotional economy is similar. Moreover, it is very explicit in linking illicit sexuality and criminality. David and Ann step out of the framework of the sexual morality of the day at the end of Act One and are to be found carrying a body and concealing a hit-and-run by the beginning of Act Two. The figures of the two hikers, Syd and Lil, who intrude upon the scene of the crime and are obviously sexually active outside the social mores themselves indicates that the lower classes have more positive libidinal choices available to them. Once again, however, criminality and sexuality are aligned as Syd turns out to be the escaped burglar they thought was the man they ran over. As everything is neatly wrapped up in Act Three, Syd turns himself in and is returned to prison having married Lil and made an honest woman of her.13 The neat tying up of all alternatives to sexual and criminal law is authorised by two policemen, who arrive to question Ann and agree to cover up the possible impropriety of her liaison with David at eleven o'clock at night in her isolated cottage. In this respect the play is as morally and sexually orderly as it is formally satisfying, a nice, neat, three-act morality play. There is some desire for another life expressed, but straying exacts a high price and no definitive break is allowed. In this respect the play can hardly be seen as an expression of sexual dissent, but in even broaching the attractions of adultery and presenting a potential adulteress as the play's moral centre, it contravened the social mores of the time, thus indicating a much more tolerant regime in relation to theatre than either film or fiction in Ireland at the time. Novels were frequently banned for dealing with this theme.14

    It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the theatre, as an increasingly middle-class past-time, was subject to less routine scrutiny than more populist past-times, such as reading domestic sagas or going to the cinema. As the prosecution of the owners of the Focus Theatre in Dublin in 1957 for staging Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo indicates, however, there were definite boundaries which could not be transgressed, though the prosecution was in some ways the beginning of the end of the age of rigorous official and unofficial censorship of sexual and social content in literature in Ireland.

    (p.203) A Golden Age for Women's Theatre?

    The Dublin stage provided a much more hospitable forum for new work by women between the 1930s and 1960s than at any time since. In 1937, the year after the production of Three-Cornered Moon by the Gate, three very varied plays by women were staged by Longford Productions: Christine Longford's comedy Anything But the Truth, an adaptation of Dorothy L. Sayers detective mystery Busman's Honeymoon, adapted by Muriel St Clair Byrne and a revival of Mary Manning's savage depiction of bohemian Dublin, Youth's the Season–?

    The way in which theatre-going was embedded in the everyday lives of middle-class women is illuminated in the diaries of avid theatre-goer, enthusiastic céili dancer and feminist republican activist Rosamund Jacob. Jacob was a highly unusual woman for her era, given her combination of literary career, political affiliations and social background.15 Nonetheless her diary entries give a glimpse of the quotidian life of the city in which writing, reading, theatre and cinema-going were embedded and experienced. Culture had to compete with domestic life, friendship, family, politics and other distractions for attention, and cinema- and theatre-going were heavily embedded in social interactions and avidly discussed. Jacob recounts taking a visitor from Waterford ‘to Sweeney Todd at the Gate’ in February 1931 and her recorded impressions indicate the way in which content, costume and the sense of occasion were very much part of the cultural experience: ‘It was delicious – H.E. [Hilton Edwards] was grand as Todd, and C.C. [Cyril Cusack] quite good as his accomplice whose throat he cuts in the end. The curate good too, and the chair going over every time was great, but strange that no one really got killed. Micheál [MacLiammóir] looked charming in the eighteenth century costume, and was quite good … It is a grand style of play.’16 The following month, after a hard day working on an advertisment for the Friends of Soviet Russia, Jacob went with a friend17 to the Olympia to see Goodnight Mr O'Donnell: ‘The play was good, Jimmy O'Dea was a dream, with his intermittent Kerry accent and his “Oh you're awful!” and the crooks and detective and housemaid were all very good – and the Kerlin girl. “These Dublin people has no reticence.”’ This time the theatre did not end her day for she went home to make more Easter lilies, for the republican commemoration of 1916.

    (p.204) Jacob's theatrical taste remained eclectic. Five years later, on Friday 9 October 1936, she set off ‘to Clery's and Roche's [department stores in the city centre] to look for lino and rugs’. She was happy to report she ‘got some for kitchen and parlour and other room – also winter coats at Roche's, brown’. This was followed by tea with Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, former suffrage leader. This tête-à-tête is followed at the end of Jacob's busy Friday by the trip to the Gate Theatre to see

    Portrait in Marble by Hazel Ellis. Good enough – MacLíammor an admirable Byron, but I think she had him a little idealized in his feelings to his wife, who was certainly horrid in it. He is sent off to die in Greece in 1815. Moore was very nice in it.

    The following Thursday 15 October, another fine day, Jacob went visiting herself, first to her friends the Kings in the afternoon

    and then Edmondsons – much as usual, and worried over finance. Went to ‘The Jailbird’ [by George Shiels] with Helen – at the Abbey. It was very good, a nice comfortable cheerful play with some decent people in it, especially the dressmaker, Eileen Crowe. Martha the Anglicized daughter was overdone by Sheila Richards, her affair with the American was revolting. McCormack was good as Dan, the jailbird, but the Gárda was unnaturally benevolent.

    Jacob's dim view of the police force, anglicisation and Americans are as evident as the fact that none of this keeps her from enjoying Shiels' broad farce. As well as illuminating the relationship between the political and cultural avant-garde, Jacob's diaries suggests that high culture and popular entertainment were inextricable experiences for the city's theatre-goers in this period.

    Style, Gender and Cultural Exchange: Chekhov, Manning and Tragi-Comic Sensibility

    While Irish mass culture was obviously highly influenced by the USA and English cultural imports remained very much in demand and circulation despite religious and political disapproval, it has been customary to see the influence of modernist theatrical experiment and Russian and Soviet culture as exclusive to the avant garde and a minority left wing. The programme for the Gate Theatre shows a more complex picture. Adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers's detective fiction sat easily alongside work which (p.205) showed the influence of both Anton Chekhov and German expressionism. The relationship between modernist, nationalist and feminist discourses in the Ireland of the 1930s was complex. It was configured by the exigencies of artistic and dramatic training, the emerging dominance of a radically insular Catholic nationalism in Dublin and the developing international context of the rise of fascism and the inevitability of war. These complexities and the persistence of cultural dissidence come sharply into focus when analysing the staging, reception and influence of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov on the development of Irish theatre. The first production of Chekhov in Ireland was in 1915.18 Chekhov appears to have been much better received in Ireland than England initially and it was the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw who championed Chekhov in England. MacLiammóir and Edwards began their collaboration with an Irish-language version of Chekhov's The Proposal in 1929 in An Taibhdhearc in Galway.19 The play's satire on the economic basis of marriage and the lack of romance or even compatibility between the couple who so desire the marriage at the centre of the play may have had a particular resonance in the context of Irish arranged marriages.

    After the split between Edwards and MacLiammóir and the Longfords, Chekhov became a mainstay of the repertoire of Longford productions at the Gate rather than those of Edwards and MacLiammóir.20 Recent work by Elaine Sisson has documented the extent to which Russian theatrical production values continued to influence Irish theatre.21 While comparisons are often made between the social and psychological stagnation of Chekhov's characters and those of James Joyce's Dubliners and the formal influence of Chekhov on Frank O'Connor, the popularity of Chekhov with Dublin audiences in the 1930s is indicative of the public mood in more ways than one. It can be read, as with O'Connor, as an indication of political despair, (p.206) but the characteristic Gate and Longford mode of staging Chekhov is intriguing. Robert Tracy offers other reasons for the appeal of Chekhov:

    These productions, and particularly the performance of the popular Sara Allgood, made Chekhov popular in Dublin, and Edwards' direction eliminated that aura of gloom that had been associated with the playwright since the early days of the Moscow Art Theatre. The Gate was also home to Lord Longford's series of Chekhov plays, done with an admirable lightness of touch. This lightness of touch in the Gate's productions of plays dealing with, amongst other things, historical paralysis, the frustration of sexual desire and personal ambition and the futility of relations between men and women is indicative of a cultural mood that makes the boundaries between comedy and tragedy in the Irish drama of the 1930s sometimes very hard to discern.22

    This tragi-comic sensibility may explain some of the choices of popular material imported from the West End and Broadway stages to the Gate discussed above. Three-Cornered Moon, Third Party Risk and even Sayers' Busman's Honeymoon veer between comedy and tragedy, or at least melodrama. (Arguably, the comic dimension is precisely what rescues all three from bathos.) This tragi-comic mode also appears to have been hospitable to plays by women, perhaps because it evaded the polarity of modernist poetry and popular verse which proved so difficult for women poets to negotiate, for example.23 Mary Manning's Youth's the Season–?, first produced in the Gate on 8 December 1931 and revived in December 1933, directed by Denis Johnston, was on one level heavily influenced by Chekhov. But the central device of a silent alter ego identifies the play with the influence of expressionism. The fusion of the psychosexual and national in evidence in Manning's play is indicative of the extent to which questions of sexual and national identity were implicated in each other even in the questioning, dissenting social and cultural space inhabited by the Gate's dramatists. The play is also indicative of the social and personal constraints experienced by middle-class women in the 1930s. On the one hand, this is part of a more general, international contraction in opportunity as the roaring, experimental 1920s gave way to the Great Depression and the rise of fascism. On the other, it offers an example of the deployment of theatrical (p.207) techniques and forms developed by international modernism to explore the particular instance of political impotence, sexual confusion and social excess characteristic of bohemian Dublin.

    Harry Middleton, whom Connie, the younger Millington sister, agrees to marry in the course of the play, is going out to Kenya. Terence Killigrew, with whom she is in love, goads Harry that he is going out to ‘beat the niggers’, but paradoxically Harry is one of the few characters with any love for the Ireland he is forced by financial circumstances to leave. These self-conscious bohemians are the antithesis of the twin ideologies of imperial restraint and national purity, yet the options facing Connie and her ‘effeminate’ brother Desmond are no more extensive than those facing, for example, the working-class Annie Kinsella in Teresa Deevy's The King of Spain's Daughter. We will inevitably have more sympathy for Annie's horror at a five-year factory contract than Desmond's for donning a bowler hat and following his father into the business, but the basic concept of constraint to repetitive patterns of subordination is the same. The lack of opportunities for marriage among Manning's bohemians is similar to that facing the peasant women in Máirín Cregan's play about women's emigration, Curlew's Cry, for example. While the dowry and arranged-marriage system made marriage an unobtainable aspiration for many poor, rural women, the decimation of a generation of men in World War One made it as unlikely a prospect for a generation of middle-class women. The problem of ‘superfluous women’ was never really addressed in independent Ireland, as noted in chapter three, though it may have played a role in women's attention to and choice of cultural and social pursuits. The men on offer in Youth's the Season–? are fairly poor marriage prospects in any case. The cycles of alcohol addiction in which the various unsuitable men to whom Toots, the Millington's friend, finds herself attracted are much more scrupulously delineated than the ‘realist’ Abbey's oeuvre at the time could have incorporated. The depiction of the remnants of the gentry or indeed the Protestant bourgeoisie as drunkards would not have incited any riots in Dublin in 1931; the depiction of peasants as similarly inclined could have been interpreted as a slur on the national character.

    In a sense, Youth's the Season–? derives both its comedy and tragedy from the self-indulgent playing out of the vices it excoriates in its characters. It is a comedy of manners that tries by one decisive act to expose the tragedy of a generation. This manoeuvre is focused on the character of Terence Killigrew, ‘a young man of twenty-seven’ who the stage directions tell us, ‘has cultivated his personality at the expense of his intelligence. He started off as a “blood” and has gradually become a shambling literary loafer – untidy, dissipated and frowsy – but with a certain physical attraction.’24 His (p.208) alter-ego, Horace Egosmith, who shadows Terence and never says anything, challenges the realist conventions of the play, effectively functioning as an expressionistic device. In order to kill himself in the last act, Terence needs to escape Horace. While Terence derides the Millingtons as ‘Circus animals … born in captivity’, he himself is equally futile: ‘people have ceased to interest me. Dancing, playing bridge, making love, and writing novels are all equally fatuous occupations, and all have very much the same effect – intoxication. Sobriety is death to me.’ How we read Youth's the Season–? is very much dependent on how it is staged. Like the Irish Chekhov adaptations and screwball comedy, Manning treads a fine line between tragedy and comedy until the end. An advertisement for the play in the Irish Independent on 7 December 1932 describes it as ‘A Tragi-Comedy of Dublin Life.’

    When Mary Manning went to see her old friend Micheál MacLiammóir on his death bed in the Meath Hospital in 1978, he asked her, ‘Mary, would you put a question-mark after Youth's the Season–?’25 In effect Manning's career, which had debuted with Youth's the Season–? in 1931, bookended a period of four decades in which the official and remembered version of Irish womanhood was defined by hearth and home, nation and Catholicism, but in which women were highly proactive producers and consumers of international and local theatre which ranged from the experimental to the domestic.

    Eugene O'Neill's Irish-American Families

    The Edwards-MacLiammóir repertoire at the Gate showed an increasing interest in American drama and in one American dramatist in particular. Of the eight-nine plays produced by them between October 1928 and June 1934, eight were American and, of these, five productions were by Eugene O'Neill. The difficult, expressionist The Hairy Ape and Anna Christie both featured in their first season in 1928. Anna Christie was revived in the third season (1929–30). It is very difficult to imagine the novelistic or cinematic equivalents of this play, with its story of a prostitute seeking a better life through marriage and the back story of Anna's rape as a young girl which precipitated her into prostitution, getting past the Irish censors by the beginning of the 1930s, despite its Pulitzer prize. However, the reviewer in the Irish Independent praised the Gate's first season: ‘artistically it has been the best venture of its kind that has been attempted in Dublin, and if few of the plays produced suggest the new generation is turning out dramatic masterpieces, all of them were extraordinarily interesting.’ The reviewer, ‘J.W.C.’, astutely identifies Anna Christie's debt to Victorian melodrama (p.209) and Dickens, objecting to O'Neill's subordination of character to thematic concerns: ‘it does not require too much perception to discover that which are ostensibly raw slices of life have been very artfully cooked in both senses of the word.’ When the play was revived again by the Gate in 1943, the Irish Independent referred to it as ‘Eugene O'Neill's great play’.26

    Mourning Becomes Electra was a terrific success for the Gate in 1938. Desire Under the Elms, however, attracted considerable criticism in 1944. While the elements of Greek tragedy in these plays might have precluded automatic censorship in other media, there is no question that O'Neill's themes were very much at odds with the prevailing orthodoxies of Irish society in the 1930s and 1940s. This is particularly relevant in Desire Under the Elms, where a family's obsession with landholding and inheritance distorts sexuality and entrenches brutal and perverse patriarchal power. The play's critique of sexual repression and the nuclear, landholding family would have had considerable local resonance in Ireland, where the family farm combined economic and social centrality with iconic national significance. The relevance of the play's critique to Ireland would have been underscored by the prevalence of the theme of conflict between fathers and sons in some of the most influential Irish plays of the preceding decades, for example, W. B. Yeats' On Baile's Strand and J. M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World.27 The play and its productions were not without detractors. An unsigned review in the Irish Independent on 16 February 1944 condescends that O'Neill was a young man when he wrote it and that ‘it is a common mistake for young men to mistake crudity for power.’28 The international status of O'Neill's work does not fully account for the licence which the theatre enjoyed to explore material which would simply have been banned in any other medium. The Gate itself had a cachet and status which seemed to protect it even from the disgust occasionally expressed at the plays it staged.

    Class privileges partly explain this dichotomy. Material censored in other media, particularly literary fiction and magazines, were available to middle-class and metropolitan readers, especially to those with connections abroad, as indicated in chapter four. The attitude to O'Neill's work in the national newspapers in the 1930s and 1940s was much more receptive than that afforded to the equally renowned American playwrights, Arthur Miller and especially Tennessee Williams, in the post-war period, and there may be a very prosaic reason for this. When O'Neill was awarded the Nobel Prize for (p.210) Literature in 1936, the Irish Press ran a front page headline ‘Irish-American Author Gets Biggest Prize.’ O'Neill famously refused to get off the boat on which he was travelling from England to the USA when it stopped over in Dublin, but Ireland, even Catholic nationalist Ireland in the 1930s, was keen to claim him, with the Irish Press prominently reporting that his father was born in Ireland and his parents were Catholic, claiming O'Neill himself for the faith. Days Without End, produced at the Abbey, strongly supported a true Catholic attitude in regard to the family, it claimed. Paradoxically, the attraction of O'Neill's work for Edwards and MacLiammóir's Gate Theatre and its audience may have been in its devastating critique of familial and sexual roles and repressions which were recognisable as both Irish and American. It is noticeable that Days Without End, where the hero returns to the Catholic faith at the end, was staged by the Abbey, not the Gate. The negative press reaction to Desire Under the Elms in 1944 may indicate the limits of tolerance of sexual content or more particularly content relating to pregnancy, childbirth and, specifically in this case, infanticide. It also suggests that while the 1930s saw the rise of censorship and extreme social conservatism, the 1940s and 1950s saw battle lines more finely drawn and an intensification of scrutiny of previous exceptions to the general rule of censorship.

    Populist Conservatism and the Laverty Years

    The war years made censorship even more mundane, pervasive and paranoid, and the emergence of the Cold War, McCarthyism and new forms of populist Catholic cultural campaigns influenced Irish right-wing opinion to mobilise again against cultural dissidence. By the end of the 1950s the diplomatic niceties had been abandoned. Threatened with prosecution, Longford Productions withdrew its permission to the Pike Theatre group to stage Tennessee Williams's The Rose Tattoo as part of the first Dublin Theatre Festival. The carping reviews of ‘crude’ plays were replaced by four detectives who, according to the Irish Times on 24 May 1957, ‘arrived in a squad car at the Pike Theatre Club in Herbert Lane, Dublin, last night and took Mr. Alan Simpson, co-director of the theatre, to the Bridewell’. This mobilisation of the forces of the law into the area of theatre censorship just at the point when literary censorship was beginning to recede can be seen as the dying gesture of the efforts to maintain cultural boundaries which had never really managed to impose consistent limits to the imagining and re-imagining of identity and particularly gender identity. Given the context of the material on film censorship discussed in chapters four and five, it was not at all coincidental that this case, which became definitive (p.211) of Irish censorship, concerned a play which was described by its author as ‘Dionysian’ and celebrated fertility and the maternal body.

    One of the most intriguing conflagrations of theatre, cosmopolitanism and conservatism occurred in the decade most often characterised as the calm before the storm of change in Irish culture and society. Christopher Fitz-Simon, in his joint biography of Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir, calls the 1950s at the Gate the ‘Laverty’ years, where the commercial and critical success of the Gate Theatre depended on the output of Maura Laverty.29 Laverty's popularity as a playwright came in the wake of stormy encounters with literary censorship. A report of an Irish Women's Writer's Club event on 4 May 1944 at which she was guest of honour noted that her novel Touched by the Thorn had won the club's book-of-the-year award despite being banned:

    Senator Donal O'Sullivan [attending the event] said he understood the book had been banned because it was deemed to be ‘indecent in general tendency’. ‘I am astonished’, he said, ‘that any group of men could find this book comes under that definition.’ Dr Robert Collis, in a highly emotional speech, said Mrs Laverty has been insulted, and there should be a legal right to take the censors to law to prove it.30

    Ten years later her work remained contentious: Christopher J. Reilly's notebooks indicate he thought No More Than Human should be banned, but he was in a minority on the board by this time.31 Despite this history of the banning of her novels, Fitz-Simon notes that Laverty's Liffey Lane was the most successful play of the Gate's spring season at the Gaiety in 1951.32 Fitz-Simon accounts for the ambivalence with which the Gate was treated:

    It was rather difficult for people of various shades of philistinism to attack the Gate with confidence. It could not be described as ‘anti-national’ – a favourite label of discredit – for Michael MacLiammóir was, after all, a Gaelic speaker, and he had translated poems by Padraic Pearse … Hilton Edwards, though English, was a Roman Catholic – as he had told several journalists …33

    In 1951, Orson Welles, long associated with MacLiammóir and Edwards (p.212) and who had cast them in his Shakesperean adaptations to great acclaim, came to Ireland to see the play as Laverty's work was attracting rave reviews. The Catholic Cinema and Theatre Patrons Association staged a protest against the visit, on the grounds that Welles was a communist sympathiser. Newspaper and contemporary accounts of the disturbances that followed vary. According to the Irish Independent there were twenty protestors, according to the Irish Times there were twelve, though 1,000 fans thronged around O'Connell Sreet in hopes of getting a glimpse of the star of The Third Man. Maura Laverty, according to Fitz-Simon' interviewees, ‘was exasperated that a very famous actor that had travelled from the continent to see her play should be treated with discourtesy by a section of the Dublin public’ and appeared from the window of the street view of the office in which they were enjoying interval drinks: ‘glass in hand, she sang a few lines of “The Red Flag” through the window.’34 Despite this indiscretion, Laverty's plays became the financial mainstay of the company in the 1950s (though she herself did not benefit as much financially as she should have). In the decade that followed, Laverty's work would find a new medium. Tolka Row, her play set in a Dublin Corporation housing estate which dealt amongst other things with the tensions in a family when an emigrant daughter returns with a husband in tow, was originally staged at the Gate in October 1951, directed by Hilton Edwards. In 1964 a serialised adaptation became the first television soap opera of Raidió Teilifís Éireann (the national television station), running for four years through a period of accelerating social change.35 Laverty's progression from banned novelist through acclaimed playwright to household name indicates a complex and reciprocal relationship between popular and high cultural production in the period.

    Sexual Dissidence and Literary History: ‘Children in Uniform’ in Dublin

    Hazel Ellis, who appeared as an actress in Manning's Youth's the Season–? and Storm Over Wicklow, as well as Denis Johnston's The Old Lady Says No!, had two plays staged in 1936 and 1938 respectively. Portrait in Marble was an historical drama concerning Byron's relations with the women in his life and Women Without Men was set in the claustrophobic environment of a girl's school. Ellis's work was distinguished by atmospheric use of music (p.213) and credits for both plays include several musicians. Women Without Men may have been influenced by German playwright Christa Winsloe's Children in Uniform, staged at the Gate in 1934, also set in a girls' school and now usually remembered for its daring treatment of lesbian themes. The staging of Winsloe's play in Dublin just four years after the Berlin premiere raises interesting questions about the extent to which the ‘bohemian’ Dublin centred around the theatre can be read as a radical, subversive or dissenting space in the conservative 1930s.

    Differing interpretations of the significance of the staging of the play and its critical acclaim on the London West End stage were at the centre of key debates in theatre studies during the first decade of the twenty-first century, particularly in defining the practice of theatrical history. The debate was complicated by the increased emphasis on the lesbian aspect of the central character's relationship in the film adaptation. Alan Sinfield, proposing a materialist elucidation of dissident sexualities, draws on Teresa de Lauretis's influential feminist psychoanalytic exploration, pointing out that her

    founding of lesbianism in the loss of the mother seems likely to produce relationships characterized by age difference. Such relationships figure prominently in mid-twentieth-century representations of lesbians, perhaps because they facilitate two hostile manoeuvres. One is to regard lesbianism as a schoolgirl crush, the other is to derive it from a predatory disposition in the older woman.36

    The most thought-provoking analysis of the numerous variants of the play and film for understanding the Irish staging of the play is probably B. Ruby Rich's argument in 1981 that Leontine Sagan's film adaptation, Maedchen in Uniform, was indicative of a much broader milieu which had been concealed from history.37 In this context, the fact that Children in Uniform was staged by a company run by two gay men, Edwards and MacLiammóir, (p.214) whose relationship was semi-public, and that the play was a considerable popular success seems to support Rich's hypothesis. The run of Children in Uniform had to be extended due to popular demand and the newspaper advertisements offered refunds or substitutions for theatre-goers who had booked for the scheduled play which had been postponed. The newspaper reviews, on the other hand, offer support for the views that either the play's sexual content was invisible or pathologised. The Irish Independent review on 4 April 1934 is curiously constrained and non-committal, merely praising the acting.38 The absence of an Irish Press review is all the more surprising when their theatre critic, Dorothy Macardle, was so obviously impressed by the film version, citing it as an exemplar of film art in her 1940 article on the relative merits of film and theatre in Bulmer Hobson's 1934 collection of programmes and photographs and portraits.39 This lack of comment may be contextualised by the combination of praise and unease in the Irish Times review, which also praised the acting and particularly the striking set design and its evocation of the deprivation of natural joy and affection and regimentation of the girls. Like the London reviewers, the Irish Times reviewer read the play as an indictment of ‘Prussianism’, though it is hard to imagine that the representation of the suppression of children's natural affections and rigid regimentation did not resonate with audience members familiar with the Irish school system in the period.

    The photographs of the production of Children in Uniform in the Hobson collection show an expressionist set, with a lot of use of shadows and chiaroscuro in the lighting design. Betty Chancellor played the schoolgirl, Manuela, to Coralie Carmichael's Fraulein von Bernberg, the object of her devotion, so though there was an age difference, Manuela was being played by a female romantic lead. Chancellor played Ophelia, for example, in the Gate's preceding production of Hamlet and Tatiana in A Midsummer Night's Dream. The Irish Times reviewer identified Manuela's excess of attachment to her teacher as a neurosis deriving from the absence of ‘natural’ affections. This reference to neurotic and unnatural attachments in the reviews would indicate that while many of the large audience for the play must have been attracted by the play's reputation for its critique of harsh educational regimes and some by morbid curiosity, they must also have been aware that it dealt with lesbian desire.

    The staging of the play in Dublin, where the new state did not have a mechanism for state censorship of new plays comparable to that of books and films but where public opinion was assumed to keep close scrutiny over (p.215) theatrical production,40 raises seductive possibilities. Should we read the popularity of this production as the cultural trace of lesbian and other forms of sexual dissidence? Following Rich's argument, we could argue that the staging of Winsloe's work indicates a lesbianism hiding in plain sight:

    Today, we must take issue with the heretofore unexamined critical assumption that the relations between women in the film are essentially a metaphor for the real power relations of which it treats, i.e. the struggle against fascism. I would suggest that ‘Maedchen In Uniform’ is not only anti-fascist, but also anti-patriarchal, in its politics. Such a reading need not depend upon metaphor, but can be more forcefully demonstrated by a close attention to the film's literal text.41

    Conclusion: Interpretation and Re-Interpretation

    It is often assumed that the women on the Irish stage are essentially a metaphor for the real power relations, i.e. the national struggle. The alternative is not to find a consistent metaphor for anti-patriarchal struggle, however. It is productive to consider the impact of this German import in the context of an influential discussion of an Irish cultural export. In 1999, Patricia White proposed a radical reading of the film, The Uninvited, an adaptation of Dorothy Macardle's novel Uneasy Freehold, White argued that ‘Because Hollywood films are part of public culture that addresses women, and because they do so through representations of Woman invested with desire, they work with the material – cultural and psychic – that engages lesbian fantasy.’42 This was one among a number of challenges in the 1990s to the reading of Hollywood film in terms of a polarised active-masculine spectator and passive-feminine object of the gaze.

    White's work epitomises a feminist film criticism which can use psychoanalytic theory and address the fact of the audience of women's films.43 It foregrounds the eerie attraction of the ghosts of her adoptive and natural mothers for the film's heroine, Stella: ‘She has been waiting for me,’ Stella says, ‘in some queer sort of way I always knew it.’44 Suggesting a parallel between the erotic intensity between Rebecca and Mrs Danvers in Daphne du Maurier's novel and that between the evil, dead, legal mother, Mary, (p.216) and her housekeeper Miss Holloway, White notes that The Uninvited was promoted in terms of its similarity to Rebecca. Advertisments in the Irish papers repeated the US marketing description of The Uninvited as ‘the most fascinating mystery romance since Rebecca’.45 Others chose to emphasis the discovery of a new star in Gail Russell, who played Stella, but were very specific about the local provenance of its source material, billing the film as ‘Dorothy Macardle's Ghost Story’. The question that immediately arises from this is the extent to which White's reading of the film can be applied to the novel, but this is less interesting than the extent to which the standpoint of the contemporary critic produces very different texts in retrospect. From the perspective of contemporary Ireland, The Uninvited is clearly haunted by the practice of separation of ‘illegitimate’ children from their natural mothers in the Ireland of its composition.46 Read from a US perspective in conjunction with Rebecca, in the context of the legibility of that film's lesbian narrative to contemporary audiences, a very different suppressed narrative emerges. In effect The Uninvited has two unconciousnesses.

    From White's point of view, ‘The division between good mother and bad is the classic stuff of psychoanalysis and the film follows the script of the family romance’, and the ending is disappointing: ‘The true mother's ghost seems to be satisfied at delivering her daughter to the arms of the hero and Rick takes it upon himself to vanquish Mary's ghost: “It's time someone faced that icy rage of yours!” he shouts, brandishing a candelabra at the retreating apparition.’47 In the Irish context, this assertion of sexuality and the defeat of the icy apparition of an idealised and powerful image of Mary who denies both sexual and maternal physical warmth are both more attractive and more subversive. White finds a different agenda:

    The efforts to oppose the two women and to attribute to them opposite qualities … are confounded and ultimately redouble the discourse of the sexual mother … While the overdetermination of the maternal scenario would seem to lay to rest the lesbian phantom that haunted Rebecca … the fact that motherhood itself is occasion for epistemo-logical doubt threatens to reinscribe the lesbian thematic.48

    This reading of The Uninvited raises key questions for feminist criticism and its relationship with women's history. There is no basis for an opposition between a local and historical knowledge, producing an historically ‘accurate’ (p.217) reading, and an intertextual, psychoanalytic perspective, producing a theoretically sophisticated one. Instead White's very different perspective produces a new point of engagement, which is strengthened when one finds Macardle in a 1940 disquisition on the relationship between film and theatre describing the film Maedchen in Uniform as a fulfilment of the ultimate poetic potential of film art.49 The history of Winsloe's play on the Dublin stage raises fascinating questions about Dublin's hidden cultural and sexual histories. The history of the adaptation and interpretation of The Uninvited suggests that accessing these histories requires further historical and archival research and the application of a range of different critical and theoretical perspectives. It is a task which challenges the contemporary reader to respect the ambiguities of the past, the complexity of women's lives and work and the ability of popular or neglected texts to produce multiple interpretations and meaning that challenge what we think we know about the women who wrote and read them.


    (1) Joan Fitzpatrick Dean, Riot and Great Anger: Stage Censorship in Twentieth-Century Ireland (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010).

    (2) See Christopher Fitz-Simon, The Boys: A Double Biography (London: Nick Hearne Books, 1994); and Richard Pine, The Dublin Gate Theatre, 1928–78: Theatre in Focus (Cambridge and New Jersey: Chadwyck Healey, 1984). Both give an account of the origins and effect of this arrangement.

    (3) Peter Powell, The Absentee Programme Notes (March 1938). See also http://www.Irishplayography.com and the Inventing and Reinventing the Irishwoman website, http://www2.ul.ie/web/WWW/Faculties/Arts%2C_Humanities_%26_Social_Sciences/Inventing/.

    (4) Longford Production Touring Programme, National Library of Ireland; Pine, The Dublin Gate Theatre, 1928–78.

    (5) Gertrude Tonkonogy, Three-Cornered Moon (New York: Samuel French, 1935), pp. 23–28.

    (6) Ibid., pp. 51–52.

    (7) Ibid., p. 121.

    (8) Ibid., p. 123.

    (9) Ibid., p. 122.

    (10) Ibid., pp. 95–123.

    (11) Gilbert Lennox and Gisela Ashley, Third Party Risk: A Play in Three Acts (London: The Fortune Press, 1939).

    (12) Irish Times, 1 November 1939.

    (13) Lennox and Ashley, Third Party Risk, pp. 100–12.

    (14) See Kevin Rockett, Irish Film Censorship: A Cultural Journey from Silent Cinema to Internet Pornography (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2004).

    (15) See Leeann Lane, Rosamund Jacob: Third Person Singular (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2010) for a fascinating account of Jacob's many political and literary pursuits.

    (16) Rosamund Jacob Diary, 24 February 1931 (National Library of Ireland, MS 32, 582/1–171).

    (17) Robert Brennan, father of Maeve Brennan, novelist and short story writer.

    (20) Robert Treacy has noted that ‘Longford's commitment to Chekhov in Ireland is matched only by Mary O'Malley of the Belfast Lyric Players Theatre, who presented “Uncle Vanya” once (1963), and each of the other major plays twice between 1957 and 1978’, ibid.

    (21) Elaine Sisson, ‘“A Note on What Happened”: Experimental Influences on the Irish Stage 1919–1929’, Kritika Kultura, 15 (2010), pp. 132–48, http://kritikakultura.ateneo.net/images/pdf/kk15/anote.pdf. See also ‘Expressionism and Irish Stage Design: 1922–1932’, unpublished paper presented to the conference on Irish Modernism, Trinity College, Dublin, October 2007; ‘Theatre, Design and the Avant Garde in Ireland: Seeing Things – Irish Visual Culture’, unpublished paper presented at the University of Limerick, June 2007. See also Joan Fitzpatrick Dean, ‘Rewriting the Past: Historical Pageantry in the Dublin Civic Weeks of 1927 and 1929’, New Hibernia Review, 13, 1 (Spring 2009), pp. 20–41.

    (22) Tracy, ‘Chekhov in Ireland’.

    (23) Anna McMullan and Caroline Williams (eds), ‘Contemporary Women Playwrights’, Angela Bourke et al. (eds), Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Volume 5: Irish Women's Writing and Traditions (Cork: Cork University Press, 2002), pp. 1234–46.

    (24) Fitz-Simon, The Boys, pp. 329–30.

    (25) Fitz-Simon, The Boys, p. 300.

    (26) Irish Independent, 12 October 1943.

    (27) Elizabeth Cullingford, Ireland's Others: Gender and Ethnicity in Irish Literature and Popular Culture (Cork: Cork University Press, 2001); Gerardine Meaney, Gender, Ireland and Cultural Change (New York: Routledge, 2011).

    (28) Irish Independent, 16 February 1944.

    (29) Fitz-Simon, The Boys, p. 169.

    (30) Irish Times, 4 May 1944.

    (31) James Kelly (ed.), ‘The Operation of the Censorship of Publications Board: The Notebooks of C.J. Reilly, 1951–55’ Analecta Hibernia, 38 (2004), pp. 223–369.

    (32) Fitz-Simon, The Boys, p. 169.

    (33) Ibid., p. 69.

    (34) Ibid., p. 173.

    (35) See Anna McMullan and Caroline Williams, ‘Contemporary Women Playwrights’, pp. 1247–49.

    (36) Alan Sinfield, Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 18. Sinfield also notes that the terms ‘erotic dissidence’, ‘dissident sexuality’, and ‘sexual dissidence’ are used for forbidden and/or stigmatised sex in Gayle S. Rubin, ‘Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality’, in Henry Abelove et al. (eds), The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 1993), pp. 22, 23. Sexual Dissidence is, of course, the title of Jonathan Dollimore's book, Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). See also Richard Dyer, ‘Less and More than Women and Men: Lesbian and Gay Cinema in Weimar Germany’, New German Critique, 51, Special Issue on Weimar Mass Culture (Autumn 1990), pp. 5–60.

    (38) Irish Independent, 4 April 1934, p. 2.

    (39) Dorothy Macardle, ‘Experiment in Ireland’, Theatre Monthly Arts, 8 (1934), pp. 124–33.

    (40) Joan Dean Fitzpatrick, Riot and Great Anger.

    (41) Rich, B. Ruby, Maedchen in Uniform.

    (42) Patricia White, Uninvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999), p. xv.

    (43) Ibid., pp. xi–xii.

    (44) Ibid., p. 68.

    (46) See Meaney, Gender, Ireland and Cultural Change.

    (47) White, Uninvited, p. 70

    (49) Dorothy Macardle, ‘Experiment in Ireland’.