Conor Farrington

Life
1928-1996 [Conor Anthony Farrington]; b. Dublin, ed. St. Columba’s, TCD, and Yale Drama School; English acting tours in Malta and India. Meryl Gourley; REireann Rep. since 1955radio plays include Death of Don Juan (1951); The Tribunal (1959); The Good Shepherd (1961); The Ghostly Garden (1964) won ICA Drama Comp.; plays, The Last P.M., or Stella and the Big Bang (Gate 1964); Aaron Thy Brother, verse play about John Philpot Curran with a chorus of Irish soldiers in the Congo (Peacock 1969; Newark: Proscenium 1975); regularly takes parts in Radio Eireann plays. DIW DIL OCIL

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Works
Poetry
, Death of Don Juan (1951); The Tribunal (1959); The Good Shepherd (1961); The Ghostly Garden (1964).

Plays, The Last P.M., or Stella and the Big Bang (Gate 1964); Aaron Thy Brother (Peacock 1969); The Stranger and Other Stories (Cork: Fish Publishing 1996) [incl. ‘Virtuoso’, A story about a classical pianist and his rival.]

Miscellaneous, ‘The Language of Drama’, in The Dubliner (July-Aug. 1962), pp.35-43.

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Quotations
The Language of Drama’ (1962): ‘When one rides out to do battle with the ogre of Realism it is at first dismaying to see how many noble shields and lances already litter he field.’ (p.35.) ‘It was an instinctive striving towards a fitter means of expression that brought realistic dialogue into the theatre and it will be a similar striving that will bring in its overdue successor, not willed attempts to create a poetic theatre by administering verse like vitamins, specially made up in a palatable form. This last is what [T. S.] Eliot recommends, he proposes to lower his language to the audience’s idiom rather than draw up the audience to his own. It may be pointed out that he lowers his language in order later to draw up his audience with it. 1 can only say this reminds me of those clergymen who spend a great part of their time ingratiating themselves by playing football with the boys, golf with the men, having cocktails with the women, exhibiting to all their manly laugh and occasional studied swearword, to gain indulgence for the inevitable talk of Higher Things. The procedure is somehow faithless and undignified in man of God or dramatist and audiences will not be moved by it, nor souls be won. The truth is that if any of the modern literary dramatists had one half of the broad human concern and the urgency to express it that Ibsen or even Zola had, realism would have been driven out long ago’ [.../] Cites Shakespeare’s line in King Lear’s dying speech, ‘Pray you, undo this button’, and remarks on the value of the ‘homely idiom’ adding: ‘Shakespearea also knew better than to write the whole play in that tone and idiom. / Unfortunately, however, recent realists have not been so sensible. Reticence, inarticulacy, homely idiom and, so to speak, the undoing of buttons have been elevated into articles of the current dramatic creed-a reticence which is no longer a healthy reaction but a lazy abdication, and inarticulacy which is not dramatically significant but is the inarticulacy of characters who have nothing to say. In so far as it can be held responsible for the one-dimensional banality that now passes for dramatic language Ibsen’s demand for “the genuine language spoken in real life” is the most stultifying injunction ever to rule in the theatre.’ Farrington gives three reasons for a ‘radical alteration in the language of drama’: ‘the audience’s reason’, the ‘actor’s reason’, and ‘the dramatist’s reason’ since ‘it is actually by means of particular words and phrases that he discovers his character.’ [For remarks on Synge, see infra.]

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Notes
James W. Flannery includes Conor Farrington and his wife among acknowledgements in Yeats and the Idea of a Theatre (Toronto: Macmillan 1976; rep. Yale UP 1989), pb.

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