The Historical and Current Significance of The Abbey Theatre

17 Apr

This past week, I had the opportunity to see the play “Drum Belly” at The Abbey Theatre. Not only was this play very interesting, but the theatre itself is also very interesting and home to over 100 years of history. The Abbey Theatre was founded in 1904 by famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats and by Lady Augusta Gregory, famous Irish dramatist and folklorist. The artistic policy that the theatre was founded under has not changed. The theatre strives to “invest in and promote new Irish writers and artists”. They also strive to attract audiences and provide them with interesting and thought provoking experiences.


            Although these ideals have remained the same, many things have also changed about Abbey Theatre. For example, in 1951 the original Abbey Theatre burned down and was built again in 1966. However, despite whatever setbacks it faced, The Abbey Theatre was and remains an outstanding and very important Irish theatre. The Abbey Theatre premiered works by famous playwrights like J.M. Synge and Sean O’Casey. It was also a significant factor of the Irish literary movement and has produced many great 20th century plays.


            The Abbey Theatre is also looking towards the future at continuing to play a significant role in Irish playwriting and culture. For example, it is very interested in encouraging and promoting playwrights. The theatre has a Literary Department that specifically commissions both new and established Irish playwrights. Not only does the theatre have up to 25 writers on commission at a time, but it also runs a New Playwrights Programme which is an eighteen month program that works on artist development and encourages new writing. There is also the Abbey Theatre Playwright Series, which is an association made up of different publishing houses. The goal of these series is to keep up with emerging playwright talent by considering up to 350 unsolicited scripts in one year. These different initiatives show that Abbey Theatre is not just a historical theatre, but it is also a place for mew talent and contemporary playwrights to emerge. 


All information taken from The Abbey Theatre’s website. Image


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