R.E.D.I. 2011- The Shaungraun, Terrorism, and the African Diaspora

R.E.D.I. 2011- Modern Drama


Professor Elin Diamond

and Ryan Kernan






Right now on You Tube?


From the Irish Rep!


Question #1: Why look everywhere?


On Fenian “Terrorism”


Robert says:

The  Fenian  Brotherhood  presented  a  significant  threat  to  British-ruled  Ireland  in the  time  period  of  The  Shaughraun. The  play  portrays  the  average  Irishman  as  having  a  personal  concern  with  the  actions  of  the  terrorist  group; regular  citizens  feel  the  need  to  go  out  themselves  and  stop  any  possible  terrorism. In  today’s  media, terrorism  is  often  portrayed  as  being  close  to  home  as  well. Even  those  living  in  residential  areas  are  told  to  be  wary  of  “suspicious  behavior”  such  as  unattended  baggage. The  paranoia  generated  by  fear  is  something  that  is  used  by  governments, or  those  with  sufficient  power,  to  support  nationalist  fervor, which allows  for  a  “united  front”  against  a  perceived  enemy, whether  true  or  not.

Where do we see this in the play?

The Fenians were of course reacting to being colonized.  They were thinking “global” and “cellular.”  Who else does that?

Chaia picked up on a very heavy point!  She’s reminding me of Fanon!

The political statements resonant in The Shaughran are apparent with the male characters in the play, specifically Kinchela and Conn.  Kinchela is the representation of the colonizer who seeks political gain.  On the other hand, Conn acts as a heroic agent in order to protect the well-being of some of the other characters.  Kinchela and Conn work together to showcase contrasting necessities of political consciousness and colonization in The Shaughran.


On Con

Daniel Observes

The character of Conn in The Shaughraun, is subversive because he is a conflation of several qualities of melodrama . Throughout the play, the drunken-trickster character of Conn is juxtaposed with the presumably heroic characters of the falsely accused Robert Ffolliott, the pious Father Dolan, and the gentlemanly Captain Molineux. While Boucicault provides these three explicit examples of heroes, it is Conn who saves the day. In fact, he proves his heroism throughout the entire work by smuggling Robert from Australia and protecting Robert by assuming his identity and getting shot by him. Even his “death motivates a mob to go hunt down the people that killed him and kidnapped Moya and Arte. Conn is essential to this plot and clearly subverts the role of providing comic relief. He is much more than that. His character’s heroism becomes a statement about the “lower class.” Conn’s heroism allows audiences to question the idea of heroism and virtue as a whole.

Ryan thinks there’s a lot there!

Question #2: What do you think?

Question #3: Fools or Tricksters?

What kind of tom foolery is this?

Did you know many credit

With Writing the First African American Play?

BOUCICAULT, DION (1820-1890), Irish actor and playwright, was born in Dublin on the 26th of December 1820, the son of a French refugee and an Irish mother. Before he was twenty he was fortunate enough to make an immediate success as a dramatist with London Assurance, produced at Covent Garden on the 4th of March, 1841, with a cast that included Charles Matthews, William Farren, Mrs. Nesbitt and Madame Vestris. He rapidly followed this with a number of other plays, among the most successful of the early ones being Old Heads and Young Hearts, Louis XI, and The Corsican Brothers. In June 1852 he made his first appearance as an actor in a melodrama of his own entitled The Vampire at the Princess’ theatre. From 1853 to 1869 he was in the United States, where he was always a popular favourite. On his return to England, he produced at the Adelphi a dramatic adaptation of Gerald Griffin’s novel, The Comedians, entitled Colleen Bawn. This play, one of the most successful of modern times, was performed in almost every city in the United Kingdom and the United States, and made its author a handsome fortune, which he lost in the management of various London theatres. It was followed by The Octoroon (1861), the popularity of which was almost as great. Boucicault’s next marked success was at the Princess’ theatre in 1865 with Arrah-na-Pogue, in which he played the part of a Wicklow carman. This, and his admirable creation of Con in his play The Shaugraun (first produced at Drury Lane in 1875), won him the reputation of being the best stage Irishman of his time. In 1875 he returned to New York City and finally made his home there, but he paid occasional visits to London, where his last appearance was made in his play, The Jilt, in 1886. The Streets of London and After Dark were two of his late successes as a dramatist. He died in New York on the 18th of September, 1890. Boucicault was twice married, his first wife being Agnes Robertson, the adopted daughter of Charles Kean, and herself an actress of unusual ability. Three children, Dion (b. 1859), Aubrey (b. 1868) and Nina, also became distinguished in the profession.

The Octoroon or Life in Louisiana (1859)/ Boucicault, ‘Merican Playwright

The Oxford English Dictionary cites The Octoroon with the earliest record of the word mashup with the quote: “He don’t understand; he speaks a mash up of Indian, French, and Mexican.” [Boucicault’s manuscript actually reads “Indian, French and ‘Merican.” The last word, an important colloquialism, was misread by the typesetter of the play.]

Question #4: What do you make of THAT!?

Comp Lit on the Borders

What’s so special about New Orleans?  Is this an Irish Play

Question #5 How can we correlate that with Fenian terrorism in the U.S. and its staging?

Did you know that

In 1926, in the paged of the Crisis, Du Bois (Hughes childhood [and life-long] hero) called for a Little Theater movement in black communities, stipulating that the plays be “about us,” “by us,” “for us”, and “near us.”

He wrote also:

Thus all art is propaganda and ever must be, despite the wailing of the purists. I stand in utter shamelessness and say that whatever art I have for writing has been used always for propaganda for gaining the right of black folk to love and enjoy. I do not care a damn for any art that is not used for propaganda.” Du Bois “Criteria for Negro Art (1926)”

Did you know our playwright was often criticized, in his own terms, as a poor playwright who wrote for his audience.

What is going on here?

Alain Locke thought the same, and, curiously enough, looked to the Irish Abbey Players too!  Why is this not a bit weird AND relevant?  This Diasporic, Alain Did!

Question:  How can this help us re-think the uses of diaspora?

Damaris wrote

The play presents a political commentary in a clear cut obvious manner. The names of the characters, their appearance, and dialogue blatantly tell the readers what is being criticized by this work. The elements of this text that are being “staged,” for example the deception, as a production makes it more appealing to the masses because it is done in such an exaggerated manner.

Question #6: Simplicity is often hard.  Why make it the goal?

How would class fit into all of this?

Hashim’s Got Something To Say About It!

That point resonates as a feminist critique on class. What happens when a woman is demoted beyond her own agency to a class void of participation in art and activities of privilege? There’s clearly resentment in Arte and the audience might confuse that resentment as strength, but that strength is negated by her abduction. What Boucicault knows though is that Arte must be abducted for purposes of simply preserving a “sensational” plot, but with a twist on the melodramatic frame, a point can be made, however inorganic it might be. Because of a salient interaction with cognitive dissonance, this play’s audience can conceptualize Arte’s character and the situation of her abduction in a constructive way and a point is allowed space to speak.


How do class, terrorism, and colonization find a coalesce in this work?

Think About The Hero’s and the Mob…  What politics are at work?


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