An exploration of Frank Allen's state of the nation plays

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O'Reilly, Sandra
Issue Date
BA (Hons) in Film, Literature and Drama
Dublin Business School
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This Final Year Project sets out to explore the dramatic work of Frank Allen, a Dublin director and playwright. As this is the first time his work has been examined in academic discourse, this Final Year Project makes a huge contribution to the evolution of social drama on an Irish national stage. Following on from the introduction which explains the motivation behind the project, chapter one begins by positioning Allen's dramatic work within the framework of national theatre. This chapter also explores the man behind the drama, where he was born and grew up, the inspirational forces which enable his creative talents to be realised and the vision he has to supply the marginalised people of Dublin with drama that is about them and for them. Chapter two analyses Allen's contemporary plays, extrapolating the social message he wants the audience to extract from Cafe Slices and Oh When the Hoops. Through these works, he underlines the hardships suffered by the working class in a unique visual interpretation of Dublin's socio-cultural distinctiveness. Chapter three examines Allen's plays, Twelve Days in May and Seven Lives for Liberty. These are works which hark back to Ireland's revolutionary period, giving a more rounded picture of iconic heroes, such as James Connolly and Padraig Pearse. He transforms them from iconic patriots to authentic Irishmen through his illustration of the suffering endured by men who were poets, teachers, musicians and writers, as well as the anguish their families underwent. In doing so, he brings the past into the present moment, revealing deep truths about the foundation, as well as the continuing negligence of the state. In providing a reflective study of contemporary and historical Ireland, this Final Year Project shows how Frank Allen's social theatre exemplifies class distinction, sociology and a unique, inherent insight into Irish issues previously denied articulation.