Alessandra Ruggiero

Panel 2D: From Page to Stage, and in Between
Session 2 – July 1, 15:30 – 17:00

 Language, Music, Adaptation in Brian Friel’s Play

The works of Brian Friel have been characterized by intertextuality and intermediality since the beginning of his career. One of his first radio plays, To This Hard House, produced by the BBC Northern Ireland Home Service in April 1958, plays with a series of variations on Shakespeare’s King Lear and reveals what will be a distinctive feature of the Irish dramatist’s later work: the interaction with established texts, not only English ones, and their transformation in order to be in tune with an Irish audience. This transformation is particularly clear in all his translations/adaptations of works by Russian writers of the late nineteenth century (Chekhov’s Three Sisters, 1981, and Uncle Vanya, 1998, Turgenev’s A Month in the Country, 1992, and Fathers and Sons, 1987, to mention just a few). The aim of these translations – in which the playwright used several pre-existing standard English translations to create his own Hiberno-English rewritings – was to produce “a play scored for Irish voices to sing” (Battersby 1992: 235), thus implicitly underlining the idea that these rewritings resist incorporation into the standard English literary mode. The presence of music, which ranges from classical to American popular and Irish traditional music, is another characteristic of Friel’s plays; it is considered necessary by the
playwright to go “beyond the boundaries of language” when words are no more an adequate means of expression, as what music can provide in the theatre is for him “another way of talking, a language without words” (Friel 1999: 177). The paper aims at discussing the theatre of Brian Friel, highlighting the strategies that he uses to interact with, and to question traditional narratives and power relationships


She is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Teramo. Her research interests include English theatre, the contemporary metropolis,and the technologies of writing and memory in contemporary English and American literature. Performance and performativity in current cultural studies and literature has been the subject of herrecent research, on which, in addition to the volume of essays entitled Metropoli e nuovi consumi culturali. Performance urbane dell’identità(Carocci 2009), she has co-edited the 2013 issue of‘ RAEI’ (Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses – No. 26) on Identity, Culture, and Performance Studies. Among her recent research fields is the relationship between technological transformations,mainly digital ones, and subject representations, on which she has co-edited the 2014 issue of Between journal onTechnology, Imagination, Narrative Forms (Vol. 4, No. 8)