The not-so-singular life of Albert Nobbs

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Noonan, Mary
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Springer Nature Switzerland AG
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The short story “Albert Nobbs” by the Irish novelist George Moore first appeared in A Story-Tellers Holiday, in 1918. In 1977, a play, La Vie Singulière d’Albert Nobbs, adapted from the Moore story, was written and directed by the French theatre director Simone Benmussa, and performed at the Théâtre d’Orsay, Paris. The play was subsequently translated into English by Barbara Wright, and later again made into a film starring Glenn Close in the titular role. The story of Albert Nobbs, therefore, is one of multiple adaptations and translations. In this chapter, Noonan first considers the techniques Benmussa used to make a play that exposes the coercive nature of narrative within patriarchy, and the relationship between performance and gender. She goes on to show that Benmussa ransacks the original text to serve her own ends. Drawing on Julie Sanders’s work on the relationship between adaptation and appropriation (Sanders Adaptation and Appropriation. Routledge, London, 2006, 2016), Noonan frames Benmussa’s Albert Nobbs in the context of works of literary appropriation—works that seek both to foster historical understanding and insist on a radical break with tradition. However, in the case of Benmussa’s Albert Nobbs, appropriation of George Moore’s original narrative enables an intense form of creative play, where multiple versions of Albert become manifest on the stage, creating a space of fluidity between source text and appropriation, past and present, fiction and theatre.
Albert Nobbs , George Moore , Simone Benmussa , La Vie Singulière d’Albert Nobbs , French theatre , French women playwrights , Theatrical adaptation
Noonan, M. (2020) 'The not-so-singular life of Albert Nobbs', in Cronin, B., MagShamhráin, R. and Preuschoff, N. (eds) Adaptation Considered as a Collaborative Art. Adaptation in Theatre and Performance, pp. 67-82. Palgrave Macmillan: Cham. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-25161-1_4
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