Abbey Theatre 2017: What happens next is this

Abbey Theatre 2017: What happens next is this

New Directors of the Abbey Theatre announce their programme for 2017

Press Release 29/11/2016

Graham McLaren and Neil Murray took up their positions as the new Directors of the Abbey Theatre in October. Today they reveal ‘Abbey Theatre 2017: What happens next is this…’ 15 projects for the Abbey stage and touring in 2017 including a series of free previews that ensures the national theatre will be open to all.

This is just part one of What happens next is this… at the Abbey Theatre. A further announcement is due in early 2017 with details of the programme and a new approach for the Peacock stage, the smaller of the Abbey Theatre’s performance spaces.

‘We wanted to start our first season on the Abbey stage by inviting in Irish artists, companies and shows we have long admired.  A number of these shows have never been seen in Dublin and none of them at the national theatre. If you haven’t seen them yet, you should, and if you have seen them you should see them again.’

Produced by Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival, Enda Walsh’s Arlington and Ballyturk will kick off the season. Arlington, one of the most talked about productions of 2016, is a compelling ode to the human spirit and its power to endure.

Following rave reviews at the National Theatre in London, the ambitious and profound Ballyturk is also back, this time with a cast of Olwen Fouéré, Mikel Murfi and Tadhg Murphy. Ballyturk is a gut-wrenchingly funny, achingly sad play. ‘This will be the first time that the work of Enda Walsh, one of Ireland’s theatrical superstars, will have been seen on the main stage of the Abbey Theatre.’

The Corn Exchange’s much loved alternative version of the founding of the national theatre, was an instant hit when it first opened in 2004. Fading stars, rebels, whores and romantics irreverently expose the strange and lurid world of Dublin by Lamplight. ‘We saw and loved this show in Edinburgh many years ago and we knew once we were appointed, we wanted to ask The Corn Exchange to remount it for the Abbey.’

Rough Magic’s inspiring musical, The Train explores a short journey which marked the beginning of a modern odyssey. Determined to challenge the restrictive laws of the 1970s Irish State, a group of 47 trailblazing women take a train to Belfast and return to Dublin with forbidden contraceptives. ‘From a revolutionary stance 45 years ago, this story still has an amazing urgency and potency in the context of issues still affecting women today.’

Druid’s critically acclaimed production of one of the most significant plays of the twentieth century; Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is on the Abbey stage in April. On a bare road in the middle of nowhere, two world-weary friends await the arrival of the mysterious Godot. ‘We are thrilled to bring Druid back to the Abbey stage and the timing of their amazing Godot in Galway felt like a gift’.

‘A touchstone for many of our conversations and for the season has been collaboration. In an Abbey Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East co-production in association with National Theatre of Scotland, Emma Donoghue is adapting her Man Booker prize, Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA winning Room for the stage.’

Ma has been locked inside a purpose built room in her captor’s garden for seven years. Her son, Jack, has no concept of the world outside and happily exists inside Room. But the time has come to escape and face their biggest challenge to date: the world outside Room.

‘We have been following the work of astonishing Irish performer Lisa Dwan with admiration. We’re delighted to co-produce Lisa’s No’s Knife with The Old Vic, London at the Abbey next year.’

No’s Knife is a one woman show of Lisa Dwan’s selection of Samuel Beckett’s prose which received rave reviews earlier this year. Lisa has toured all over the world with her Beckett Trilogy Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby.

‘We are keen to continue the Abbey Theatre’s strong relationships with arts festivals in Ireland. As well as the Galway International Arts Festival, 2017 sees partnerships with Dublin Dance Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, and Dublin Theatre Festival.’

Dublin Dance Festival returns to the Abbey stage in May with Deep Dish by Chris Haring and Liquid Loft, and Sunny by Emanuel Gat and Awir Leon.

GrahamMcLaren will direct Ulysses – Dermot Bolger’s brilliantly edited, vibrant version of Joyce’s Dublin classic – in a vivaciously re-imagined Abbey Theatre auditorium. This production will premiere as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

 ‘August will see the work of Teresa Deevy back on the Abbey stage, with a new production of her most significant play – Katie Roche. This play hasn’t been produced here in over twenty years and it’s timely that we now revisit on of the most highly regarded, yet neglected writers in the Irish Canon.’

Katie is young, impulsive and illegitimate. When she rushes into a marriage with a man twice her age, she struggles to conform. Over 80 years since it premiered at the Abbey Theatre, Katie Roche remains an urgent piece of work from one of Ireland’s most important writers.

‘It is our great honour to tell the story of Jimmy Gralton, a man who was virtually written out of Irish history until recently, in a new stage adaptation of the critically acclaimed Ken Loach and Paul Laverty film Jimmy’s Hall. We intend to premiere the piece in Jimmy’s home county – Leitrim.’

Jimmy’s Hall tells the true story of Leitrim farmer Jimmy Gralton, the only Irish citizen deported from his own country. His crime was to build a dance hall where he encouraged the local community to learn, to argue and to dream, but above all to dance and have fun.

We want the Abbey Theatre, our national theatre, and its audience to be reflective of Ireland. To us, this means presenting work all over Ireland, work for all ages and work at affordable ticket prices.’ 

Our Open House will be a daylong event with over 100 performances of live music and spoken word in response to our rapidly changing political landscape. People from all walks of life including artists, politicians, journalists, sportspeople, singers and scientists will perform a favourite piece of writing be it poem, lyric, polemic, gag, letter or sports commentary.

The Abbey Theatre will tour an intimate theatre experience in 2017. Appearing in pubs across the country next year, two men meet for a pint musing on the events of the day and their lives. Two Pints distils the essence of Roddy Doyle’s comic genius.

From the creative team behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Let the Right One In, adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne based on the Swedish novel and screenplay of the film by John Ajvide Lindqvist, will come to the Abbey stage for Christmas 2017. Presented by the National Theatre of Scotland by arrangement with Marla Rubin Productions LTD and Bill Kenwright in association with the Abbey Theatre, Let the Right One In is a truly rare piece of theatre, an enchanting, brutal vampire myth and a coming-of-age love story. ‘This brilliant show was seen in Scotland, London and New York. We’re excited to be bringing this production to Ireland with an Irish cast.

2017 will see the introduction of a series of free previews. Each will be announced in advance of the play and people can queue for a ticket on the day, ensuring that there are no economic barriers in place and that the Abbey Theatre is open to all. The Abbey Theatre’s current ticket prices start at just €10 for previews and audiences can buy a front row seat for any performance for just €13.

The Board of the Abbey Theatre welcomed the announcement:
‘The Board of the Abbey Theatre are delighted to support this dynamic, bold and inclusive programme from our new directors, Graham and Neil. We see this as the first step in a new chapter of the story of the Abbey Theatre.’

Board member and Chair of the Abbey Theatre Gender Equality Committee, Loretta Dignam added:
‘We particularly welcome the significant number of women artists featuring in the programme.’

The programme goes on sale to the general public at 12 noon on Friday 2 December. More details can be viewed on . //ENDS

FOR MORE INFORMATION, INTERVIEWS, IMAGES OR TICKETS CONTACT: Róisín McGann, Press Manager at the Abbey Theatre at or on 086 770 7343

The Abbey Theatre gratefully acknowledges the support of The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

Gender Equality at the Abbey Theatre
Following consultation with key stakeholders within the Arts and theatre industry, the Abbey Theatre’s Gender Equality Committee announced a set of guiding principles to ensure that Gender Equality is both embraced and enshrined at the national theatre in August 2016.

The Guiding Principles can be viewed here:

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