Memories and Prophecies:The Continuing Theatrical Challenge of Yeats

Memories and Prophecies:The Continuing Theatrical Challenge of Yeats

Wednesday 30 Oct at 6.30 pm

James W. Flannery, the Director of the W. B. Yeats Foundation and the Winship Professor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities at Emory University will deliver a lecture on Yeats' legacy as a dramatist.

Twenty years after the Yeats International Theatre Festival ended its highly successful five year run at the Abbey Theatre, the place of Yeats within Irish theatre remains unsettled.  Despite the views of critics that Yeats is "the most considerable verse dramatist in English since Shakespeare"   (Eric Bentley),"the seminal force in modern Irish drama" (Christopher Murray) and "still Ireland's foremost avant garde playwright" (Fintan O'Toole),  the dominant view of the average theatre-goer in Ireland is that Yeats is a great poet but a failed dramatist.

James Flannery, who served as the producer of the Yeats Festival and is both a distinguished Yeats scholar and stage director, in this lecture will provide an assessment of the Festival in light of its original goals.  He will also address the manifold reasons for Yeats's alleged failure as a dramatist  and what it would take to reverse those views.  Among other things, he will point to the transformative effect that a sustained commitment to meeting Yeat's extraordinary dramatic vision could have upon Irish and world theater.

All welcome. No booking required.


More about James W. Flannery
A producer, stage director, singer, scholar and critic, James Flannery has an international reputation as a specialist in the dramatic work of William Butler Yeats.  His book, W.B.Yeats and the Idea of a Theatre: The early Abbey Theatre in Theory and Practice, is considered the definitive study of Yeats's aesthetic of and practical work in theatre.  As a director, his imaginative stagings of the challenging plays of Yeats have won international acclaim.  With sponsorship from The Coca-Cola Company, he was the Executive Director of the Yeats International Theatre Festival at the  Abbey Theatre, from 1989 to 1993.

Flannery also has achieved distinction as a singer, particularly as one of  the foremost interpreters of the songs of Thomas Moore.  His book and recording, Dear Harp of My Country:  The Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore,  is a combined critical and artistic examination of this central figure in the history of Irish literature and music.

Winship Professor Emeritus of the Arts and Humanities at Emory University, Flannery is also the director of the W.B.Yeats Foundation, which produces a regular series of public events concerned with Irish culture in Atlanta.
His film of the highly successful Southern Celtic Christmas Concert has been broadcast on PBS and won the 2012 Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts and Entertainment,.  In poetry, music, song, dance and tory, the Concert celebrates the Christmas traditions of Ireland and their connection with similar traditions in the American South.  Among his many honors, he is the recipient of a Georgia Governor's Award in the Humanities for his promotion of a wider understanding of the cultural traditions of the Celtic lands and their contribution to the American South.  He has five time been named by Irish America Magazine one of their "Top 100" Irish Americans.  In 2010, Flannery was named and International Associate Artist by the Abbey Theatre and a Visiting Professor at University College, Dublin.

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Learn more about the Library’s award winning exhibition Yeats: The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats.

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