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    Irish Theatrical Diaspora: Manchester, April 2010

    By Noreen Bowden | January 12, 2010

    The Irish Theatrical Diaspora Conference 2010

    Ireland’s Drama in British Cities,
    Manchester Metropolitan University, April 15-16, 2010.

    The 2010 Irish Theatrical Diaspora Conference will consider the history and context of performing Irish plays and characters on British stages, as well as the more general performance of Irish diasporic identity in an urban British context. Some of the areas that the conference will address are:

    • the role of festivals in performing Irish identity,
    • the role of British theatres in performing Irish plays,
    • the significance of geographical variations,
    • and the impact of globalisation on the position of Irish theatre in Britain

    Keynote speakers:

    • Mary Hickman, Professor of Irish Studies and Sociology, London Metropolitan University
    • Patrick Mason, Director, Adjunct Professor, University College Dublin, and Visiting Professor, Liverpool Hope University

    Confirmed speakers:

    • Claire Connolly
    • Mike Cronin
    • Karen Fricker
    • Nicholas Grene
    • Patrick Lonergan
    • Holly Maples
    • Victor Merriman
    • Aoife Monks
    • Jim Moran
    • Catherine Rees
    • Shaun Richards

    This conference will examine performances of Irish identity in the urban
    centres of Britain since the beginning of the 19th century. The idea of
    performance is intended to include events staged in the theatres and on the streets, for example parades, musical performances and political

    By discussing such performances and their reception by various audiences, speakers and delegates will examine the ways that ‘Irishness’ has changed in meaning and association in Britain, pressurised by contexts such as colonialism and nationalism, modernisation and economic change in Ireland, the Troubles and the Peace Process, and many others.

    In particular, the conference is concerned to examine the changing status of Irish, and Irish-descended, people in Britain.  Since 1995, the diaspora has arguably become more recognised in Ireland, after President Mary Robinson urged the Irish nation to the ‘moral act’ of remembering and commemorating their sacrifices.  In Britain, the Irish arguably became more visible after recognition of their ‘ethnic minority’ status in the 2001 UK census; and, more recently, interest in Britain’s oldest and largest ethnic minority has been renewed amidst a more general concern with immigration and the ways in which the case of the Irish in Britain might be seen to foreshadow and intersect with the experience of many other immigrant groups.

    Delegates will be able to reflect on questions including:

    • What different versions of Irishness have been suggested by theatrical and other performances in Britain, and how have these been received and understood by their audiences?
    • In what ways have Irish cultural festivals affected perceptions?
    • How have notions of second-generation Irishness changed?
    • What significance do performances of Irishness abroad have for the Irish nation ‘at home’?
    • Have visible assertions and performances of Irish identity impacted on ideas of Britishness?
    • How have the Irish enacted and interacted with ideas of nation and identity in a British context, and how has this been affected by changes in Ireland and key events in Irish-British relations?
    • To what extent are the Irish in Britain an ‘acceptable’ ethnic minority?
    • To what extent are the Irish in Britain ‘post-nationalist’ now?

    More information:

    Irish Theatrical Diaspora website

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