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Stewart Parker (James Stewart Parker) Biography

(1941–88), (James Stewart Parker), The Casualty's Meditation, Maw, Spokesong, Kingdom Come, Nightshade, Northern Star

northern ireland irish play

Northern Irish playwright, born in Belfast, educated at Queen's University, Belfast. Between 1965 and 1969 he lectured in the USA. Following the publication of two collections of poetry, The Casualty's Meditation (1966) and Maw (1968), Parker began writing plays for radio and television. His first play for the theatre, Spokesong (1975), concerns the efforts of a young man to save his family's bicycle shop from the ageless sectarian violence and twentieth-century urban progress of Belfast. This play, like his ‘Caribbean-Irish Musical Comedy’, Kingdom Come (1978), is typical of his enigmatic and optimistic approach to the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Though influenced by Sam Thompson, Parker's work differs from the ‘Thompson School’ of Ulster drama in opening up both the history and the present problems of Northern Ireland to an eccentric range of dramatic ideas. In the 1980s Parker developed the dramatic and intellectual possibilities of an individual voice speaking from Ireland's political and literary past. Nightshade (1980) was followed by Northern Star (1984), a play about Henry Joy McCracken, the Protestant hero of the abortive United Irishmen rebellion in 1798, relaying his thoughts through a series of parodies of Irish dramatists such as Wilde, Shaw, and Boucicault; Heavenly Bodies (1986), whose main character is Boucicault; and Pentecost (1987), which was first produced by the Field Day Theatre Company in Derry.

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