Something Happening Quietly: Owen McCafferty's Theatre of Truth and Reconciliation

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Abstract

This article concerns the Belfast dramatist Owen McCafferty (1961–) and his play Quietly, which debuted at the Abbey’s Peacock Theatre in November 2012. Considering antecedents in McCafferty’s earlier work, it illustrates how the play reflects a longstanding and contemporary condition whereby individuals in Northern Ireland deal with the legacy of the Troubles on their own terms, essentially bypassing elected representatives engaged in polemical and immoveable disputes over the past. Based on a real bombing in 1974, the production’s development is outlined along with the original suitability of the Peacock space, prior to discussions of the play’s depiction of violence, racism, women, and the prospect of an independent truth commission and ‘healing’ within a society coming to terms with the legacy of political violence. Based around the author’s interview with McCafferty, the piece draws on theatrical criticism – most of which has not gone into depth on the socio-political relevance of the play – and newspaper reportage, highlighting the political and social context of the play’s themes which are rooted in actual events and historical detail. In a dispensation which has experienced failed public initiatives aimed at dealing with the past, Quietly emerges as a comment on truth and reconciliation processes generally, at the same time representing a transitional play for McCafferty as a writer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-548
JournalIrish University Review
Volume47
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

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