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Theatres of OppositionEmpire, Revolution, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan$
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David Francis Taylor

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199642847

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199642847.001.0001

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‘Hear Me!’

‘Hear Me!’

Pizarro and the Politics of Silence

Chapter:
(p.119) 4 ‘Hear Me!’
Source:
Theatres of Opposition
Author(s):

David Francis Taylor

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199642847.003.0005

Building on the preceding chapter’s discussion of the trial of Warren Hastings, this chapter turns to Sheridan’s phenomenally successful tragedy Pizarro (May 1799), a loose adaptation of a German play by August von Kotzebue in which Sheridan recycled as dramatic dialogue several passages from his Hastings trial speeches. Dramatizing the Spanish conquest of Peru, and appearing just a year after the bloody 1798 Rebellion in Ireland (a crisis about which Sheridan spoke passionately), this chapter argues that Pizarro represents a theatrical meditation on the failure of humanitarian rhetoric to prevent colonial atrocity—in India and Ireland. If Sheridan’s play finally stages a redemptive politics then this is to be found not in speech but rather in the organization of space and the performance of silence.

Keywords:   India, Ireland, Pizarro, Sheridan, oratory, rebellion, speech, silence, tragedy, spectacle

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