"the most important theatre company in the English-speaking world"

Still on the theatrical theme.. Mick noted the resignation of the entire Board of the Abbey Theatre. The speculation on the way forward for the Abbey prompted the Guardian, yesterday, to run a leader column on the crisis – the Abbey matters not just to Ireland, but to the world, tied with a background article by Angelique Chrisafis. And today the Irish Times weighs in with a call for increased public funding of the Theatre – Abbey must stay centre stage

From the Irish Times editorial –

Political decisions should now take advantage of these possibilities. If they are to do so effectively they must be in line with certain fundamental principles. Ireland needs and deserves a national theatre to express its distinctive literary tradition and develop it anew. It should be properly funded and mainly from the public budget, within agreed parameters of income and expenditure.

The theatre must enjoy the artistic independence that allows it on occasion to present drama with a political or social edge challenging prevailing views and political orthodoxies without fear of retribution. To do this it should be governed by a board representing the main stakeholders, but with a credible autonomy to fulfil such a mandate and capable of resisting gratuitous interference.

  • fmk

    “The theatre must enjoy the artistic independence that allows it on occasion to present drama with a political or social edge challenging prevailing views and political orthodoxies without fear of retribution.” This must have been published in a differed Irish Times to the Irish Times which went to town on Sebastian Barry’s Charlie Haughey play – not attacking it for it’s artistic demerits, but for its political content.

  • Friendly Fire

    Since all these artists don’t pay taxes, this is just bullshit. We should be the media centre of the world……… if they wanted to give something back.

  • fmk

    who in the abbey doesn’t pay taxes? the actors? maybe if they earned enough to they would, but certainly they’re not able to avail of the artists’ exemption sceme. so maybe you mean the writers. but since the abbey is an archive theatre, you’re talking of the likes of synge, o’casey and yeats, who are long dead.

    so eaxactly who are you talking about with such a bold, sweeping statement?

  • aquifer

    It would be better to have a broader based theatre sector with more companies and venues, perhaps using public grant to build a range of venues that are attractive enough and big enough to be viable, or using the grant to ensure that seats are filled by a younger public rather than remaining empty at high ticket prices. I recall the project theatre group doing excellent work to good audiences, but out of some sort of shed with uneven floors near the centre of Dublin. ‘Planning Gain’ laws in England make it possible to include public good facilities such as a theatre in big redevelopment schemes, effectively subsidised by the developers. e.g. We could do with more purpose built live music pub venues.

    In Victoria Square in Belfast City Centre, approved by North Belfast member MP Nigel Dodds as DSD minister, they lost the planned cinema but keep on building the hole in the ground they will use to park cars. More farce than drama there.

  • fmk

    specifically within dublin, we do actually have a pretty active theatre scene. the project in temple bar regularly sells out. you get good shows in the new suburban theatres in blanchardstown, tallaght and dcu. one of the biggest problems i see with theatre in ireland is that the majority of people who write about it (sadly, still a small number) equate theatre with what is on in the abbey, with the gate getting a mention at a push. rarely does anything else count, unless it gives the critic an opportunity to sound superior while slagging off things like the ha’penny bridge, the wiremen or i keano

  • peteb


    Mary Kenny, again in the Guardian, makes a slightly different point

    When you go to the Abbey these days, the audience is often composed of visiting Americans and the well-heeled Dublin bourgeoisie. After it is “restructured”, with proper subsidies, I hope that it will connect more to the life of the people.

  • fmk

    actually pete, i think she supports my argument – abbey = theatre, theatre= abbey. no one goes to the abbey? qed no one goes to the theatre. which is simply not true. the gate even makes a profit these days.

  • peteb

    Yeah, I should have kept my first draft of that comment.. gone now alas.. I think she is making a similar point. Although, perhaps, approaching it from a different angle.

  • Ringo

    The Druid can lay claim to all that Mary Kenny laments the Abbey having lost.