Samuel J. Waddell (1878-1967), who took on the stage-name Rutherford Mayne when he embarked on a theatrical career, was the most prolific, versatile, and successful playwright that the Irish Literary Revival in Ulster brought forth. In the course of his career as a dramatist, from 1906 to 1934, he wrote thirteen plays—ten plays for the Ulster Literary Theatre, one for the Dublin-based Theatre of Ireland, and two for the Abbey Theatre. Especially his early realist Ulster "peasant plays" were very successful, among them The Drone (1908), the most popular Irish folk comedy of the first half of the twentieth century. He also acted a great number of main parts in plays of his own and of other writers, to great acclaim, mainly in Belfast and Dublin but also on tours to England and Scotland, from 1904 until late in his life. His plays disappeared from the stage in the 1950s, and, when he died, his artistic achievements were almost forgotten.
Wolfgang Zach's introduction to this volume is the first attempt to give a lengthy survey of Mayne's life and works, with particular emphasis on a discussion of all his plays, their critical reception, stage history, and specific features. As to the selection of Rutherford Mayne's plays contained in this volume, seven of his eight published plays—his most important ones—have been included in this edition. Two important prose pieces (one of Mayne's essays and an interview), have been added to his reprinted plays as they provide direct insight into his personality, views, and career. In the biographical and critical section of the Checklist appended to this book, publications have also been included that do not solely concentrate on Rutherford Mayne but are of great significance to any student of his life and plays.
The present selection contains The Turn of the Road, The Drone, Red Turf, The Troth, Phantoms, Bridge Head, Peter, his essay "The Ulster Literary Theatre," an interview "Meet Rutherford Mayne," and a bibliographical checklist.
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