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Brian Friel dies aged 86, Oct 2

Brian Friel dies aged 86, Oct 2

One of my favourite playwrights, mainly for Translations written in 1975, set in a rural Irish-speaking community in County Donegal in 1833. Owen Hugh Mor returns to his homeland with the English Army as a translator to of place names and interpreter. The significance of re-naming places is that it is colonial cultural vandalism, eradicating heritage and tradition is of particular relevance here in Australia. And then there’s love. After the intermission there’s that lovely scene when the couple leave the dance, falling for each other without a word of common language.

We saw a preview of the film of Dancing at Lughnasa, in Lifford, Donegal on the border with the North, like Translations it is also set in Baile Beag. He identified with his mother’s native village of Glenties to the west of Lifford close to the mountains and remote valleys where the Irish language and traditional music survived, despite emigration and the slow modernisation of Ireland. I was with Bron and her father’s family watching the movie, it was a magic night.

Dancing at Lughnasa depicts one of my interests – Nietzsche’s contrast in The Birth of Tragedy between the Apollonian and Dionysian. He claimed these were the two central principles in Greek culture. The former is structured, orderly and individual; the latter about ecstasy, losing control through drugs, madness or sexual excess that rubs off one’s individual character. The tension between the two is the drama.

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