Joan FitzPatrick Dean on Thursday night will condense nearly 100 years of Irish public pageants into a one-hour presentation.
Beginning in the early 20th century, Ireland’s public and cultural officials organized elaborate theatrical productions to entertain and inform fellow citizens. They were similar, Dean said, to Olympic Games opening ceremonies in how pivotal historical and political events were dramatized for large audiences.
In Ireland organizers used costumes, music and mock battles to tell large, complicated stories.
In 1950, Kansas City officials staged something similar at Starlight Theatre to celebrate the city’s centennial.
“This is a form of public history,” said Dean, author of the new book “All Dressed Up: Modern Irish Historical Pageantry.” Dean is curators professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“This was not about scholarly academics sitting down,” said Dean. “Some of these pageants had audiences of more than 100,000 people, so they were about fireworks, parades, music and costumes.”
Dean speaks at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main St.
She has promised that her presentation will be complete before the beginning of another spectacle: the Kansas City Chiefs game against the Oakland Raiders.
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