This essay is structured in two sections: At the outset, Bill McDonnell provides an overview of the broader political and cultural context which produced Belfast Community Theatre, and other significant grass-roots Republican community theatres from the 1970s. Together, and especially in the case of Republican theatre groups, the essay argues that they constitute the only radical theatres in post-1945 Britain and Ireland to meet Erwin Piscator’s stringent criteria for a political theatre. This is followed by a series of dialogues on theatre and the war in the north of Ireland, which take up the larger part of the essay. The dialogues took place over the period 1985-2000, and foreground the political and theatre philosophy of one of the pivotal figures in Republican cultural activism in West Belfast during the Troubles, Joe Reid, co-founder with Marie McKnight of Belfast Community Theatre (1984). These conversations are embedded in a personal and political relationship between McDonnell and Reid, mediated by a mutual commitment to political theatre and its role as part of a broader nexus of cultural activism.




active Republicanism, Belfast Community Theatre, cultural activism, Northern Irish drama

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

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Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
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Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
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Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
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Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
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Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
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University of Cape Town (South Africa)
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University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
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University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
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University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
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Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
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Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
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Temario Rivera
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Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
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Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)