Folklore 

Biographical Sketch Conor McPherson was born in Dublin in 1971 and he was brought up in a middle class Catholic family. During his years at the University College Dublin he was a member in the dramatic society of the college. He helped to establish the Fly by Night Theatre Company where he produced many plays including The Good Thief (1994), the winner of Stewart Parker’s Award, and This Lime Tree Bower(1995), which collected various awards like the George Devine Award.1McPherson won the Olivier Award for Best Play in 1997 for his two plays, St. Nicholas (1997)and The Weir (1997), The Critics’ Circle, the Evening Standard, the Meyer-Whitworth, and the George Devine are among the other prizes he won. Later on, his works were internationally popular. He produced screenplays, directed films, and he started to direct his plays up to this date.2 His works were divided into two forms; the monologue and the ensemble forms.3 The Weir belongs to the first form and The Seafarer belongs to the second. ?He used Irish folklore to dig deep into the Irish identity for it provides him with adaptable, clever, amusing, and creative tales. “For as long as I can remember I’ve always had an interest in Irish folklore.”4 McPherson used ghostly elements as he reshaped the Irish conventional storytelling. He wanted to bring the complex bond of old and New Ireland together, as myth and storytelling played a significant role in forming New Ireland.  He usedstorytelling mode to show that Irish writers wereaware of the destructive changes caused by the Celtic Tiger which detached Irish people and separated them from their cultural identity. McPherson used storytelling to force the Irish to go back to their roots. Llewellyn- Jones in her Contemporary Irish Drama and Cultural Identityexpresses that this ” re-awakening traditional storytelling   provides a means for releasing repressed real emotions, and recaptures the genuine possibility of a humane community even within an economically deprived rural context.”5 He states that he uses storytelling theatre as a straight answer for the ambiguity of the age saying, “Irish drama went ‘ inside’ because our stories were fragile, because everything was changing.”6 Michael Billington admired McPherson’s use of storytelling calling it “the restoration of the lost art of narratives.”7McPherson uses storytelling in the form of monologues to make the audience penetrate into the psyche of the characters.8 He explains his use of monologue saying that [I] consciously developed monologue [because] I felt that there is a freedom they give you that you don’t get in dialogue. It’s very liberating in the theatre to hear a story like that. It’s intriguing for somebody to actually be addressing the audience, not ignoring the audience. And the audience becomes the other character in the play. I’m glad that I directed the monologues myself. I’m trying to get the actor to trust the story. As a director I’m almost trying to get out of the way, so that I don’t leave much of a directorial mark.”9These monologue are illustrated as the ” transparent mind, allowing audience entry into the character’s consciousness; their motivations, history, or point of view.”10There are ghost stories and supernatural tales like with vampires in his St. Nicholas 1997, the fairies and ghosts in The Weir 1997 and The Shining City 2004, and the demon in The Seafarer. These supernatural elements are “part of his philosophical inquiry into the nature of existence.”11McPherson succeeds in drawing attention of the audience through folkloric tales. He uses these tales as symbols for “the unknown, the existential and un finished business of our lives.”12 He refers to capitalism, child and family abuse, and the loss of identity and connection with his culture and folklore. In his plays, McPherson shows how the Irish are isolated from their  national culture due to the economic progress of the Celtic Tiger and how they lost their cultural and self  representation due to the destructive impact of colonisation. Dilek Inansummarises the status of McPherson’s characters saying that the characters:McPherson’s characters are not part of the nation’s recent economic success. They are rather the backward native Irishmen who have difficulties in adjusting to the internationalized in business driven society. We see that McPherson’s characters do not favourthe economic changes and they feel uncomfortable, aimless and unsettled in this society.13     McPherson calls the Irish to be aware of the destructive effects of economic changes of the Celtic Tiger.  The destructive results of these changes made the Irish people unable to connect with one another, that made his characters alone living in fear and alienation. He stresses the idea of connecting saying that one should “stay with the company and the bright lights.”14McPherson brings the audience closer to the characters by using the seanchai method* which replicates native, traditional storytelling. The seanchai are known as “one of our greatest contemporary explorers of loneliness.”15 The depiction of loneliness mirrors the sense of loss of a culture due to colonization that still exists. McPherson exposes the sense of isolation in most of his plays, as he says, “all I can say is my work is a battle against loneliness. It is an acknowledgement that we all have a fundamental loneliness even though you may not be alone. But all that loneliness can be eased by admitting and sharing that fact.”16McPherson uses folkloric components in general and ghost stories in particular for social criticism. He criticises contemporary social matters like the feeling of loss and loneliness caused to the Irish society because of materialism where the unbalanced economic progress represented by the ups a downs of the Celtic Tiger caused a huge gap between the rich and the poor increasing the sense of alienation. It means that those who could not achieve any economic success would be left behind feeling alienated unlike their successful peers. His plays are described as “tales of lost souls and troubled lives.”17McPherson criticised alcoholism in Ireland to arouse social awareness. It was the reason for other social problems like marriage collapse and domestic violence. Colin Murphy comment is:”Our society is alcoholic. Of course, people don’t want to hear that because no alcoholic wants to hear it.”18 McPherson’s characters suffer due toalcoholism, like John, the leading character in his Dublin Carol, Jim and Finbar in The Weir, the theatre critic in St. Nicholas, Sharky in The seafarer. Their actions reflect their sense of loss and failure. His desperate characters show their fear in a new world of economic progress.  McPherson’s female characters suffer in a male-dominated society. McPherson uses the ghost characters as females to convey a message that men should communicate with them and to contribute significantly to the world. Karen Fricker describes Irish drama as “an ongoing chronicle of male weakness, frailty, failure, reflecting a culture in which representations of masculinity and femininity have been historically, and problematically, linked to national identity.”19