“Irish society is no longer a homogenous, one-coloured, one-cultured nation.”

The Sunday Times has a report detailing the background to the abandonment of George’s Dock as the preferred site for a new Abbey Theatre. Apparently conditions imposed by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) to the free site they offered proved too restrictive for the planned development. The report also states that “The Office of Public Works says the Department of Communications and An Post have now become involved in the process of assessing the GPO” on O’Connell Street as a potential site. Which would please Senator David Norris. The attempted renaissance of “the most important theatre company in the English-speaking world” has been ongoing since 2005, when the newly appointed and still-director Fiach MacConghail had this to say

Mac Conghail says his “vision” revolves around new writing and new ways of making theatre, including physical and non-verbal work. Running Dublin’s Project Arts centre in the 1990s taught him to respect an audience, he says, that “liked the shock of the new”. He also promises to reach audiences beyond the traditional Irish middle class by investing in new writing and diverse programming in the style of the National Theatre in London, and by touring in Ireland.

He says he wants the Abbey to re-engage politically. “Irish society is no longer a homogenous, one-coloured, one-cultured nation. It is the fastest-changing society in the world. We have to look at different ways of making theatre, as a lot of theatres in Britain have done.”

Hmm…

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  • georgieleigh

    So we get rid of our homogenity and go headlong into copying the Brits.

    Doesn’t do irony, does he – this lad Mac Conghail?

  • Brian Walker

    Although I haven’t followed this closely, as a fan of the Abbey tradition I read the talk about developing the GPO as a theatre with horror at the prospect for both institutions. Although the word is overworked, it is truly an iconic site – as the GPO. The switch to a theatre would blur its impact, leaving only the classical facade and little sense of the original building.It would resemble one of those great 1930s cinemas whose Egyptian-style pillars have been preserved but the interior has been completely rebuilt as a multiplex. At least that allows for continuity of use. But for the GPO, the change of function and a virtual new building would surely destroy its ethos, even allowing for the common Yeatsian link. If it can’t remain as a post office let it be a museum. Surely Kilmainham hasn’t used up the whole supply of artefacts. I suppose the main argument against redeveloping Abbey St again is that a long closure might be ruinous. But surely with property prices falllng the State could find a decent site somewhere. Or is a temporary home out of the question if they developed the present Abbey after all?

  • Pete Baker

    Indeed, Brian.

    David Norris thinks that “the mystical combination of Yeats’s Abbey and Pearse’s GPO would lead to a positive queue of Irish American sponsors.”

    But that “mystical combination” risks undermining the vision of the current Abbey director.

    And the reality that “Irish society is no longer a homogenous, one-coloured, one-cultured nation.”

    Hence the post title.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Despite the historic location the Abbey strikes me as an ugly grey nondescript building which carries little sense of History …..on the outside.
    The GPO on the other hand is certainly more iconic and part of its charm is the fact that it is still a working post office.
    Most of the 1916 artefacts ar actually in the impressive Irish Military Museum at Arbour Hill. Tempting to think some could be moved to GPO etc but it would destroy the continuity of the Arbour Hill Museum.

  • Paul Doran

    Dublin Docklands Development Athority what a grubby little outfit that is

  • scarecrow

    We didn’t get to vote on multi culturalism, who needs it, what is wrong with being a one cultured nation, Ireland for the irish, nothing wrong with that.

  • joeCanuck

    We didn’t get to vote on multi culturalism

    Yes you did. You voted to join the European Community.

  • Mayoman

    But that “mystical combination” risks undermining the vision of the current Abbey director.

    And the reality that “Irish society is no longer a homogenous, one-coloured, one-cultured nation.”

    Hence the post title.

    Why? I see no mutually exclusive role for history versus modernism. The two could blend. That’s unless you see something ‘wrong’ with the history PB? Is that it?

  • It’s a pity that in this drive to multiculturalism, which I encourage, the Abbey Theatre, the National Theatre of Ireland, has all but forgotten its role as a platform for Irish language drama. There hasn’t been an Irish language play on the main stage in the Abbey for years. If there’s to be genuine multiculturalism, it has to include Irish also. However all the talk about multiculturalism is just that – there’s only one language featured in plays on the Abbey Stage over the past several years, and that’s English.
    is that the default language of multiculturalism?

  • joeCanuck

    is that the default language of multiculturalism?

    Probably, Concubhar. But it’s likely to be revenue related too; supply and demand.
    An Irish language production would require sponsorship, probably by the State. Since Irish is an official language, the State should make efforts to support it. Combining it with a cultural event such as a play would be money worth spending.

  • Is there something particularly wrong with being a homogenous one-coloured one-cultured nation?

  • joeCanuck

    Shane,
    It’s not a matter of right or wrong. But if you are such a nation or if you follow it, you miss out on a lot of interesting stuff.

  • georgieleigh

    Multiculturalism my arse.

    Millions of Irish went to Canada, helped wipe out native culture, and then their own culture went in time, save for a few old-timers in Newfie whistling jigs. And they’ll be gone soon.

    Multiculturism is the sheeps’ clothing hiding the wolf of monoculturism.

    Now go on, end the argument and call me a racist.

  • scarecrow

    and that’s English.
    is that the default language of multiculturalism?

    They speak English in Dublin? Last time I was in Dublin I didn’t hear it, mainly Polish and other odd stuff.

    It’s not a matter of right or wrong. But if you are such a nation or if you follow it, you miss out on a lot of interesting stuff.

    Like? Oh I know the thousands we tax payers have to pay each year for interpeters and stuff, yeah we’d miss paying out ok…definitely.

  • I’d prefer if all the money being spent on translating unread documents in english to Irish were spent on producing plays, books, films etc as Gaeilge. That would be a better use of limited public resources….

  • David Crookes

    Monoculturalism is the chief danger, and what looks like a living traditional link sometimes turns out to be working for the monocultural enemy. Look at Bayreuth, where Wagner’s great-grand-daughter is dominant. Wonderful, sez you? Not really. The said lady is turning out excruciatingly ugly Eurotrash productions that make Bayreuth completely unspecial.

    Gabriel Fallon worried that international acclaim might actually damage the artistic integrity of Irish playwrights.

    At my old school we put on a classical play every year (first in Greek or Latin, then in English translation). Identical cast for each performance. It would be rather fun if the Abbey were to do the same kind of thing for a week outside the main season. Plays acted first in Irish or Polish, then in English.

  • Garza

    “Is there something particularly wrong with being a homogenous one-coloured one-cultured nation?”

    Ah the dark side of nationalism.

  • joeCanuck

    Scarecrow,

    You need to travel a bit.

  • Alias

    Folks who have been led to think that permitting immigrants from other nation-states to enter the country is tantamount to cancelling the right of the host nation to a nation-state are dupes – to express it kindly.

    None of these nations come here from their own state with the intention of cancelling the culture of the host nation while their own culture remains uncircumscribed in the country they came from. If they did arrive with that intention, they would not be welcome here.

    The biggest non-national group within Ireland are Polish. I have not heard a single Pole demand that Irish culture is circumscribed in Ireland or demand that Polish culture be circumscribed in Poland because nations from other states are working there.

    The only folks who will hear making those soundings are left wing muppets from the host nation. Outside of that agenda-laden group, you will only hear such sentiments from those who have an agenda to undermine Irish nationalism. Never will you hear it from the immigrants themselves.

    In regard to the comments from the director of the national theatre, what makes this muppet think that his role gives him the right to unilaterally declare the end of Irish national self-determination in Ireland? He was appointed to that role by the state to promote Irish culture and not to undermine it. He should, of course, be dismissed from that position. He won’t be, however, since we have a government which has been successfully neutered and has an ulterior policy of not defending Irish sovereignty.

  • Garza

    Correct alias, thats why I have no time for nationalism. Irish nationalism, British nationalism, Ulster nationalism, German nationalism, American nationalism etc etc.

    Nationalism imo only seeks to divide, to put people in camps, us and them. Nationalism was partly responsible for the two world wars, and many othere.

    Irish nationalism had entwined in it however, the fight for equal rights with unionists – fair enough. But when they acheive that what has Irish nationalism got to offer except to divide?