By Helena Sheehan
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Extra info for Irish Television Drama: A Society and Its Stories
In fact, the majority of television plays were direct adaptations of stage plays in these first years. As to the state of Irish theatre at this time, it had been for several decades in the doldrums, except perhaps for such sporadic challenges to the mainstream as came in the shape of theatres like the Pike and the Globe. The Abbey had settled into a rut of what Frank O'Connor called ‘museum theatre’. Its succession of cottage kitchens presented a picture of a cozy and complacent society, disturbed only by individual transgressions and cute eccentricities.
It was not as honest and as innocent as it seemed. Religious texts and sub texts pervaded many of the plays. Priests and nuns were a persistent presence among their characters. Virtually all other characters were within their faithful flock. Whatever their temptations and their transgressions, which were often the stuff of the drama, they still believed. Indeed, they lived their days and did their deeds in an atmosphere in which it was seemingly unthinkable not to believe. As Hugh Leonard described the situation: The Irish writer is alone in the world in the sense that in every other country the existence of God is doubted and a serious play becomes a...
Concomitant with the new openness of the Irish economy to the international laws of supply and demand was the openness of Irish culture to the bourgeois mentality and its characteristic forms of cultural expression. Ireland was suddenly full of rock'n'roll, the space race, smart clothes and situation ethics. The country particularly basked in the reflected glory of the election of John F Kennedy in the US and felt on top of the world on the occasion of his 1963 visit to Ireland. Ireland was very much apart of the whole upbeat, on-the-move mood prevailing in the wider world in this burst of modernist thrust.