Three Plays by Lady Gregory: Spreading the News, The Rising of the Moon, and The Poorhouse

Three Plays by Lady Gregory: Spreading the News, The Rising of the Moon, and The Poorhouse

by Lady Augusta Gregory
     
 

Spreading the News is a short one-act comic play by Lady Gregory, which she wrote for the opening night of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, 27 Dec. 1904. It was on a double bill with William Butler Yeats's Cathleen Ni Houlihan. Audiences may have dozed through Yeats's play, but Spreading the News was very successful and it is still acted at the Abbey Theatre as late as… See more details below

Overview

Spreading the News is a short one-act comic play by Lady Gregory, which she wrote for the opening night of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, 27 Dec. 1904. It was on a double bill with William Butler Yeats's Cathleen Ni Houlihan. Audiences may have dozed through Yeats's play, but Spreading the News was very successful and it is still acted at the Abbey Theatre as late as 1961. Lady Gregory remarked after seeing an early performance of the play that "the audience would laugh so much at "Spreading the News" that they lost about half the dialogue. I mustn't be so amusing again!"

In a small village in rural Ireland, a new (English) magistrate inspects stalls at the local fair, expecting the worst. Because of Mrs. Tarpey's hearing impairment and the villagers' love of gossip, a misunderstanding grows and grows, leading to a false arrest for a murder that never happened. The play ends abruptly, with little resolution; we are left wondering what happened. Most of the humour is situational, rather than playing with language. Because we know what really happened at the beginning, most of the play uses dramatic irony.

Spreading the News is a comedy that exploits both English and Irish stereotypes. Lady Gregory was a member of the Protestant upper classes of Ireland, but she had sympathies for Irish Nationalism and was a strong supporter of Irish culture and identity. In this play she carefully reproduces the colloquial style and lower-class dialect of the workers on her estate in an effort to represent their culture accurately, and yet at the same time she reproduces various stereotypes about Irish people. She also includes satire versus the English governing class (of which she was a member) in the character of the Magistrate. The Magistrate comes to the village expecting people to be committing crimes: in a way, he is imposing his idea of their corruption on them, and they accept it/live up to it. However, there are no real "sides" in the play. Spreading the News may have been written to help the Irish and the English understand each other by having them see each other's flaws.

Lady Gregory’s The Rising of the Moon is an explicitly political play dealing with the relation between England and Ireland trying to fight for freedom from English rule. Lady Gregory presents characters who are torn between duty and patriotism and are ultimately united together as Irishmen through the folklore, myths and songs which they share as a nation. The thought of being the citizen of a country takes precedence over one’s feelings of duty towards a foreign nation. Patriotism is the unifying force among the people.

The Ballad Singer (Rebel) and the Sergeant are the major characters through whom the issue of unity among Irish people is explored.

Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (15 March 1852 – 22 May 1932), born Isabella Augusta Persse, was an Irish dramatist and folklorist. With William Butler Yeats and Edward Martyn, she co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, and wrote numerous short works for both companies. Lady Gregory produced a number of books of retellings of stories taken from Irish mythology. Born into a class that identified closely with British rule, her conversion to cultural nationalism, as evidenced by her writings, was emblematic of many of the political struggles to occur in Ireland during her lifetime.

Lady Gregory is mainly remembered for her work behind the Irish Literary Revival. Her home at Coole Park, County Galway, served as an important meeting place for leading Revival figures, and her early work as a member of the board of the Abbey was at least as important for the theatre's development as her creative writings. Lady Gregory's motto was taken from Aristotle: "To think like a wise man, but to express oneself like the common people."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940015683738
Publisher:
Balefire Publishing
Publication date:
09/20/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
70
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (15 March 1852 – 22 May 1932), born Isabella Augusta Persse, was an Irish dramatist and folklorist. With William Butler Yeats and Edward Martyn, she co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, and wrote numerous short works for both companies. Lady Gregory produced a number of books of retellings of stories taken from Irish mythology. Born into a class that identified closely with British rule, her conversion to cultural nationalism, as evidenced by her writings, was emblematic of many of the political struggles to occur in Ireland during her lifetime.

Lady Gregory is mainly remembered for her work behind the Irish Literary Revival. Her home at Coole Park, County Galway, served as an important meeting place for leading Revival figures, and her early work as a member of the board of the Abbey was at least as important for the theatre's development as her creative writings. Lady Gregory's motto was taken from Aristotle: "To think like a wise man, but to express oneself like the common people."

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