Lady Gregory's Toothbrush

By Colm Toibin

A notable determine in Celtic background, she used to be married to an MP and land-owner, but retained an unheard of independence of either idea and deed, actively championing factors with reference to her center. right away conservative and radical in her ideals, she observed no clash in idealizing and mythologizing the Irish peasantry, for instance, whereas her landlord husband brought laws that will, partly, bring about the frequent distress, poverty and hunger of the good Famine. however, as founding father of the Abbey Theatre, an outspoken opponent of censorship, and mentor, muse, and mother-figure to W. B. Yeats, Augusta Gregory performed a pivotal function in shaping Irish literary and dramatic historical past. furthermore, regardless of her mom and dad' early predictions of spinsterhood, she was once no matronly determine, carrying out a passionate affair whereas newly-wedded and, as she approached sixty, falling for a guy nearly two decades her junior. 'Biographical pix are too usually these days smudged in a surfeit of phrases ...this one is a superb illumination' Spectator

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This used to be the context during which Yeats and woman Gregory’s final nice conflict approximately censorship and freedom of expression could occur. In August 1925 O’Casey submitted his new play The Plough and the celebrities, which handled Easter Week 1916, to the Abbey. Yeats and Lennox Robinson and woman Gregory beloved the play (“she is a very broad-minded woman”, O’Casey wrote to a pal) and it was once to be staged in February 1926. by way of early September there have been difficulties. one of many gamers wrote to woman Gregory: “At any time i'd think carefully sooner than having whatever to do with it. The language is – to exploit an Abbey word – past the beyonds. The music on the finish of the second one Act sung by means of the ‘girl-of-the-streets’ is very unlikely. ” In practice session many of the actors objected to person strains, one having been forbidden by way of her confessor to assert them. The play allowed Irish nationalists to combine with prostitutes; it additionally confirmed a Tricolour being introduced right into a pub. however the total message of the play used to be much more offensive: it didn't glorify those that fought for Irish freedom at a time while lots of them have been hungry for glory. quickly, the play used to be learn through George O’Brien, the govt consultant at the board, who wrote of “the chance that the play may well offend any portion of public opinion so heavily as to impress an assault at the Theatre of a sort that will endanger the continuance of the subsidy”. In his letter to Yeats he indexed phrases which he even though can be got rid of (these incorporated “Jesus”, “Jasus” and “Christ” in addition to “bitch”, “lowsers” and “lice”). Of the presence of the prostitute, he wrote that “the lady’s specialist aspect is unduly emphasized”. The tone of his letter prompt that he used to be inside of his rights to call for the removing of phrases, characters and undue emphasis. while Yeats got here to Coole to debate this, girl Gregory, in line with her magazine, “said right away that our place is apparent. If we need to make a choice from the subsidy and our freedom, it's our freedom we decide. And we needs to inform him that there has been no hooked up to the subsidy. ” She and Yeats did, although, speak about slicing the offensive tune from the play. on the next administrators’ assembly, girl Gregory gave George O’Brien a lecture at the theatre’s battles with censorship. O’Brien nonetheless sought after the music got rid of. “We had already made up our minds it needs to cross, yet left it as a bone for him to gnaw at,” woman Gregory wrote. On eleven February there has been a revolt within the theatre. girl Gregory used to be at Coole and skim approximately it within the newspaper on her method to Dublin. Yeats were within the theatre and had addressed the viewers, who had hassle listening to him, from the degree. even though, he despatched his speech to the Irish occasions: “You have disgraced yourselves back … is that this … going to be a habitual party of Irish genius? Synge first after which O’Casey! the inside track of the occurring of the previous couple of mins right here will flash from state to state. Dublin has once again rocked the cradle of a name. From one of these scene during this theatre, went forth the celebrity of Synge.

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