Elmer Rice and The Gate Theatre: Avant-Garde Poetics and Transnational Influence

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The Dublin Gate Theatre combined the nationalist mission of preserving Irish and Celtic culture with the ambition to bring international avant-garde theatre to the Irish stage. In this way, it distinguished itself from the more conservative Abbey Theatre as well as the avant-garde community which was often critical of its nation. Edwards and MacLiammóir, the founders of The Gate, were eager to work with non-Irish avant-garde playwrights, and to stage drama by, among others, Henrik Ibsen, Luigi Pirandello, and Elmer Rice. There is, however, little to no research that illustrates in what way the Gate Theatre’s poetics influenced other playwrights. This thesis aims to fill this gap and expand on the established knowledge of the Gate Theatre’s position in the avant-garde community. It will focus specifically on their collaboration with the American playwright Elmer Rice. This research will be conducted by comparing Rice’s The Adding Machine and Not for Children. The latter was written for the Gate Theatre and it may be hypothesised that it will display more Irish characteristics. This thesis tests this hypothesis to answer the question: in what way did the Gate Theatre influence the international avant-garde movement as illustrated by their collaboration with Elmer Rice? The answer to this question will hopefully contribute to ongoing research about the Gate Theatre’s ideology, and its significance in and outside of Ireland.
Faculteit der Letteren