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Translations - Full Length Play, Drama


Brian Friel

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Full Length Play, Drama

7m, 3f

ISBN: 9780573618710

"Gleams with that old bardic poetry." - New York Post

"A funny and bitter portrait of Irish peasants caught in the midst of a quiet social upheaval." - The New York Times

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Full Length Play



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From the acclaimed playwright of Faith Healer and Dancing at Lughnasa, this hauntingly lyrical play is about nothing less than language as the soul of a nation. Set in 1833 in Ireland, it tells of the British army's campaign to replace the native Gaelic place names with English ones in an attempt to end centuries of fighting by setting up a political union based on a common language. Against a beautiful backdrop, Lieutenant Yolland, a British soldier, falls in love with Maire, a peasant girl, and with Ireland. Their romance sparks displeasure and anger in the Irish and English alike, and when Yolland goes missing, the mutual revenge taken threatens to tear the countryside apart.
"Gleams with that old bardic poetry." - New York Post

"A funny and bitter portrait of Irish peasants caught in the midst of a quiet social upheaval." - The New York Times



7m, 3f


Brian Friel

Brian Friel (1929-2015) largely considered modern Ireland's leading playwright, was born to a schoolmaster and a postmistress. After working as a teacher in Derry for ten years, he married Anne Morrison and moved to Donegal to begin writing in earnest. His first significant theatrical success was Philadelphia, Here I Come, which debuted to rave reviews at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1964. He ... view full profile

Now Playing
Beth Henderson 5/7/2013 1:02 AM
Through the haunting lens of the early colonization of Ireland, Friel delves into the evolution and destruction of culture throughout history. As the British come to map out the village of Baile Beag in Ireland, the natives must contend with the growing influence of the foreign power and the imminent erasure of their culture. This play tells of the slow march of time that, though regretful, is unable to be stopped.

The fact the Irish characters only speak Gaelic, Greek, and Latin suggests that they are characters of a forgotten time, soon to be replaced. One British character, Yolland, falls in love with both the culture and a girl, Maire, from the village. While it can be seen as a trite love story, it is, in fact, a tragic instance of cultural confusion. She loves the idea of escape to a new future, while he loves the idea of the past. His obsession for a doomed time eventually costs him his life, when those who attempt to defend their land take violent action. However, this act eventually results in harsh punishment from the British and signals the true beginning of the end for Baile Beag.

Translations calls for a large cast, which would be appealing to centers of education. However, due to the sophisticated and subtle nature of the script it would be difficult to successfully produce without inadvertently insulting Irish history, overly sentimentalizing the storyline, or missing key themes of the play. This is a fine example of Irish drama and would be a brilliant addition to anyone studying the culture or its literature. Keep in mind that the setting is a conglomeration of a number of important events in Irish history so it is not entirely historically accurate.  

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