Article Title

“Home Away from Home”: Diasporic Consciousness and Everyday Third Places in Tom Murphy’s Conversations on a Homecoming (1985) and Inua Ellams’ Barber Shop Chronicles (2017)


Moonyoung Hong


This paper analyzes Tom Murphy’s Conversations on a Homecoming (1985) set in a pub in the West of Ireland and Inua Ellams’ Barber Shop Chronicles (2017) set in barbershops in six different cities, discussing the significance of the two spaces in forging a diasporic consciousness. In both plays, the experience of displacement and migration leads to contested national identities. Drawing on postcolonial theories and on the theories of everyday life put forward by Henri Lefebvre and Michel de Certeau—which offer numerous insights into the production and consumption of everyday spaces—the paper argues that both Murphy and Ellams find in the ordinary pub and barbershop the potential for “creative resistance.” The pub and the barbershop are quintessential liminal spaces and represent significant features of the socio-cultural history of Ireland and the pan-African community. In these spaces, binaries of tradition/modernity, private/public and reality/art are challenged, revealing, in the process, a complex layering of Irish and Black identities. The innate performativity of the pub and the barbershop also lends itself to a metatheatrical reflection on theatre. By refashioning the “third place” into a lively theatrical space, the play encourages the actors-as-characters and audience to form a “spontaneous communitas,” a concept developed by Victor Turner. The performance of dance, music and storytelling in the pub and the barbershop becomes a shared ritual of inclusion, solidarity and affirmation of diasporic identity.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.