Belfast realism: northern city-scapes in Christina Reid’s drama

Michał Lachman


Christina Reid was a Northern Irish playwright whose plays maintained a distinctly socially-oriented perspective. In her works from 1980s and 1990s, she penetrated spaces of Belfast city inhabited by marginalized, Protestant working-class communities. Her writing stands in conspicuous contrast to stereotypical plays written in the South of the island. If the South playwriting could be associated with imaginative, poetic, unrealistic representation of rural life on the one hand, and traditional, Gaelic heritage on the other, the Belfast scenery is that of working-class, post-industrial depression. Here, political violence equals social injustice, contributing to the realistic presentation of characters on the verge of survival in socially, economically, and politically troubled environment.

Reid’s writing can also be deconstructed as a specific example of vision stimulated by marginalised location in the north—the north understood not as an affluent, middle-class, Eurocentric geography of continental capitals but as a province of Western world torn with political and economic problems. This article argues that knowledge is located in particular material circumstances and that it is to some extent produced by the geographic conditions of its existence. Many literary works conceived in Northern Ireland, Reid’s drama included, develop their own language of analysis and description, their own discourse of survival in which their peculiar conditions are uniquely phrased and in which an intriguing perspective from the margins of Western culture is coined. The aim of the article is to analyse how Christina Reid and her plays produce a characteristic language, dialogue, diction of the north and how these forms of communication, both linguistic and theatrical, reflect back on the dominating knowledge of  Irish as well as central European cultures.

Słowa kluczowe: Christina Reid, Northern Irish drama, the Troubles, postcolonialism, Belfast

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