Ireland in the 1990s experienced fast, immediate, and radical social change. Dubbed the “Celtic Tiger,” the Irish economy provided for changes in the arts landscape as well, particularly as an outlet for the expression of this change. A profound shift in Irish drama, expressed as an attempt to redefine what a play is, what an audience is – regardless of the theme of the work – allowed for a replication of this societal change in the theatre. Theatre artists collaborating to bring physicality to the Irish stage sought to explore, express, and reflect a part of society that they felt could not be represented naturalistically. They rejected nostalgia and indeed often mocked it. The newly emerging Irish theatre de-privileged the author and moved away from the literary tradition to incorporate performance techniques and movement on an equal basis to the written text.These productions emphasized the visual because artists found that words alone could not express the inchoate emotions brought on by globalization and cultural shifts. Breaking Forms is an attempt to provide a vocabulary for talking about Irish performance and an incursion in the understanding and definition of the idea of Irish gesture. The manuscript profiles several theatre companies to find common ground and provide an analysis of their performances, theatre, and texts.
Christie Fox is Honors Program Director and teaches in Honors and the Department of English at Utah State University. She teaches and researches dramatic literature, Irish studies, and issues facing Honors education.