By Bernadette Sweeney (auth.)
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Extra info for Performing the Body in Irish Theatre
In the Irish Free State new legislation included the Censorship of Film Act in 1923 and the Censorship of Publications Act in 1929. Neither of these acts incorporated a censorship of theatre, but they created a climate of censorship within the arts community and many playwrights and practitioners were directly affected in their work outside the theatre. The Censorship of Publications Act replaced but did not depart significantly from laws enforced under British rule: the Customs Consolidation Act 24 Performing the Body in Irish Theatre of 1876 and the Obscene Publications Act of 1857.
However, an exposure to the pace and ritual of Noh theatre deepened The Absent Body? Performing Tradition 39 Yeats’ sense of the theatrical; he then combined this awareness with a growing interest in dance and the staging of language and the body. Yeats’ experimentation with Noh form coincided with his (temporary) departure from Ireland and the Abbey, and his disappointment with the Abbey’s move towards realism and ‘a theatre of the head’ (Murray 1997: 25). Yeats’ time in England resulted in his dance plays, which were staged in the drawing rooms of high society.
It is an ancient pastime, they tell me, of the Citizens. (Gailey 1969: 8) Characters listed here appear in later mumming plays with a few variations, but there have been regional variations right up to the present 30 Performing the Body in Irish Theatre day. Other, less specific, references to mumming activities date as far back as the twelfth century: ‘Hamner’s Chronicle, describing King Henry’s celebration of Christmas in Dublin in 1172, tells of “the pastime, the sport, and the mirth, and the continuall musicke, the masking, mumming and strange shewes” ’ (Danaher 1972: 257).