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Losing Their Day Jobs: The Radio Éireann Players as a Permanent Repertory Company

  • Eileen Morgan-Zayachek (a1)

During a 1966 Radio Telefis Éireann broadcast celebrating the first forty years of indigenous radio in the Republic of Ireland, Maxwell Sweeney characterized the evolution of radio drama in the nation as a slow process, one that grew out of readings of short stories and poetry. Like all other facets of the early national radio service, dramatic broadcasting suffered greatly from inadequate funding and resources. Equally detrimental to its progress was the widespread, if understandable, ignorance about the new medium's possibilities. Indeed, music dominated the airwaves in the first decade of national radio in Ireland because relaying music performances and gramophone records did not pose the same challenges as speech and dramatic broadcasting. 2RN, as the service was initially called, was but “a part-time affair,” broadcasting for a mere five and a half hours, and “eighty percent of transmission time was devoted to recitals by small groups of instrumentalists, solo traditional musicians, and amateur choirs.” Consequently, though understanding of dramatic broadcasting steadily developed, the Irish Independent could accurately claim in 1933 that radio drama in the Free State had not significantly improved since the establishment of the service seven years earlier.

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Eileen Morgan-Zayachek is Assistant Professor of English at the State University of New York College at Oneonta where she teaches Irish cultural studies. She is coeditor of A Century of Irish Drama: Widening the Stage (Indiana University Press, 2001). She has also published articles on the 1996 film Michael Collins, the novels of Edna O'Brien, and the history of Irish radio broadcasting.
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Theatre Survey
  • ISSN: 0040-5574
  • EISSN: 1475-4533
  • URL: /core/journals/theatre-survey
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