Reception and the Literary Revival

David Johnson- The Old Lady Says ‘No’

This Irish play, written by David Johnson, was initially entitled Showdance. Johnson submitted his work to the Abbey Theatre, but it was subsequently rejected. When the rejected script was returned, it had the words “the old lady says no” written on it. Johnson ironically retitled his play, and it was picked up by William Butler Yeats. Yeats helped Johnson to produce The Old Lady Says ‘No’, which was so well-received that it helped to increase the popularity and reputation of the Gates Theatre. [1]

William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory- Cathleen ni Houlihan

Cathleen ni Houlihan, a nationalist drama written by William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory, was not an instantaneous success. In the first three days of its production in St Teresa’s Hall in 1902, Cathleen ni Houlihan attracted less than five hundred spectators. Regardless of its precarious beginning, the play quickly gained popularity and influence in Ireland. Cathleen ni Houlihan eventually became intertwined with Irish history, and “quickly wove itself into its audience’s own sense of communal memory,” (Morash, 123). [1]

Sean O’Casey- The Plough and the Stars

Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, was first performed at the renowned Abbey Theatre.  In the same way that Hamilton altered the macro narrative that 1776 presented, The Plough and the Stars presented a revisionist version of Cathleen ni Houlihan. O’Casey’s historical drama is much more critical of the nationalist movement in Ireland than its earlier counterpart. Due to the critical nature of the drama, this particular Irish play was met with a tremendous amount of opposition, and led to riots. Much like the cast of Hamilton made a speech to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, these riots turned a historical drama into a space for political protest. Although The Plough and the Stars did not express the popular political views of the Irish people, it eventually became the most prosperous show in the history of the Abbey Theatre. [1]

[1] Morash, Christopher. A History of Irish Theatre: 1601-2000  (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002), 123.


Reception and Political Melodramas

Reception and Musicals

Literary Revival

Memory and Literary Revival

Identity and the Literary Revival

Hamilton and Cathleen Ni Houlihan?: Irish and American Dramatic Representations of Colonial Rebellion