Autumn Winter Season

Autumn Winter Season

Fiach Mac Conghail’s final season as Director of the Abbey Theatre includes world premieres by Marina Carr, Frank McGuinness and Carmel Winters

The Abbey Theatre today announced its programme from September to December. The season features three major world premieres by Marina Carr, Frank McGuinness and Carmel Winters, international activist Penny Arcade, Fornocht Do Chonac by Eoghan Ó Tuairisc and produced by Taidhbhearc na Gaillimhe and a trilogy of plays from THEATREclub.

Fiach Mac Conghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre said ‘I’m proud to present an important line-up of national and international artists at the Abbey Theatre. I have been motivated in programming the Autumn/Winter season by my desire to work with the best of contemporary playwrights and directors and to increase the representation of women making and presenting work at the Abbey Theatre. I believe that an increased visibility of women artists at the Abbey Theatre will have a positive impact in achieving gender equality in Irish theatre and in the wider arts sector. I welcome the important and public dialogue with Waking the Feminists in advocating this change. Although a lot more needs to be achieved, I’m pleased with the quality and balance of the programme for my final season at the Abbey Theatre. It is a privilege to produce new work by Marina Carr, Frank McGuinness and Carmel Winters, three important and brilliant artists who I have had the pleasure of regularly collaborating with over the course of my time at the Abbey Theatre.’

As part of the Dublin Theatre Festival, the Abbey Theatre presents two new plays in October, The Remains of Maisie Duggan by Carmel Winters and Donegal, a musical play by Frank McGuinness.

From the award-winning writer of B for Baby, Carmel Winters’ new play is a subversive illumination of family bonds and the struggle to break them. Only Maisie’s funeral would bring her daughter back to Ireland. But it’s a curious class of corpse that greets Kathleen on her arrival. Kathleen’s return brings old family troubles to the surface in this riotous dark comedy directed by Ellen McDougall.

Donegal is a musical play by Frank McGuinness about family, place and country music. The Day family are Irish country music royalty and Irene is their queen. But as Irene’s star fades the Days are facing financial destruction. With music by Kevin Doherty (Four Men and a Dog) and Conall Morrison directing, Donegal’s cast includes Siobhan McCarthy (Evita, Mamma Mia! and Hairspray), Killian Donnelly (Kinkyboots) and Megan Riordan (Once).

The Abbey Theatre commissioned Marina Carr to write her version of Anna Karenina, bringing a new perspective to an epic love story. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is an examination of a country in the midst of extraordinary change. Through the impact of one woman’s decision, it looks at the troubling cost of love on the human soul. Wayne Jordan reunites with Marina Carr to bring this explosive story to life over Christmas.

Fiach Mac Conghail continued ‘I’m delighted to present force of nature Penny Arcade as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe and to welcome her back for a second time this year. Penny is an internationally acclaimed feminist, activist and performance artist, who will fill the Peacock stage with humour and honesty. I’m very excited about the work of THEATREclub being at the Abbey Theatre as part of this season. Grace Dyas was a participant in our New Playwrights Programme and she will be making her debut as writer and director at the Abbey Theatre with The Ireland Trilogy. I have been an admirer of Grace’s work as an artist and activist as she continues to bear witness to the narratives and histories in her community.’

After an exciting performance at the Theatre of Change Symposium in January, Penny Arcade returns to the Abbey Theatre. New York’s undisputed queen of the underground – Penny was an Andy Warhol Factory Superstar in the 1960s and a contemporary of Patti Smith and Debbie Harry. Her performance piece Longing Last Longer is co-presented by the Abbey Theatre and Tiger Dublin Fringe. Also as part of the Abbey Theatre’s partnership with Tiger Dublin Fringe, choreographer, dancer, and songwriter Aoife McAtamney will premiere a soulful feast of contemporary dance, music and visual arts with Age of Transition in the Peacock.

Dublin-based theatre collective THEATREclub make their debut at the Abbey Theatre in November. Three of THEATREclub’s plays will be presented together as The Ireland Trilogy for the first time. The Family, HEROIN and HISTORY, together, trace an unwritten narrative of Ireland, one that looks at the recent past through the lens of equality. The Ireland Trilogy was written and devised by Grace Dyas and the casts and directed by Grace Dyas. One play will be presented per night in rotation and the three will be performed together in two daylong events.

The Abbey Theatre presents a play in the Irish language which is written by Eoghan Ó Tuairisc and produced by Taibhdhearc Na Gaillimhe this November. Directed by Eoin Mac Diarmada, Fornocht Do Chonac sees a disillusioned sculptor called Pearse, hiding from a crime of violence, questioning the legacy of Patrick Pearse and whether his spirit and ideology are a force for good or evil.

Fiach Mac Conghail added ‘Is cúis mortais dhom é fáilte a chur roimh Taidhbhearc na Gaillimhe go hAmharclann na Mainistreach.’

In 2015, the Abbey Theatre commissioned Lisa Carroll, Ross Dungan, Sonya Kelly and Tara McKevitt to write 20 minute plays for two actors as part of the latest in the Abbey Theatre’s series of Short Play Commissions. Taking inspiration from The Theatre of Change Symposium, the playwrights were invited to look to the future by responding to the theme of Future Tense. Directors Maisie Lee and Ronan Phelan will present rehearsed readings of these plays on the Peacock stage on 13 and 14 of July.

2016 has been a productive year for touring for the Abbey Theatre. Productions have been seen in London, Cork, Wexford, Limerick, Galway, Washington DC, Glasgow, Liverpool, Belfast, Amiens and at the Somme, and in over 90 primary schools across Ireland. Owen McCafferty’s Quietly opens Off-Broadway at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York in July. Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme will continue to tour until October and there will be a five venue North American tour of The Plough and the Stars which starts in September.

Fiach Mac Conghail added ‘Waking the Nation was an artistic and box-office success. It has been a fantastic year for the productions on our stages and on tour. Almost 100,000 people have been to an Abbey Theatre production so far this year and we have toured from Washington DC to Inis Oirr. I want to thank all of our artists and audiences for engaging with Waking the Nation. I want to pay tribute to my outstanding, loyal and talented colleagues at the Abbey Theatre who have supported me and the artistic policy and programme of the Abbey Theatre over the last 11 years. We also welcome our Directors Designate Graham McLaren and Neil Murray who started with us this week. I’m looking forward to working closely with them over the next six months, as they prepare to take over what I consider to be the most exciting job in Irish theatre.’


Booking details: Booking is now open for Abbey Theatre members. Tickets go on sale to the general public on 21 July.

Gender equality: In December 2015, the Board of the Abbey Theatre established a sub-committee to develop a gender-equality policy for the Abbey Theatre. The members of the sub-committee are Loretta Dignam (Chair), Deirdre Kinahan, Niamh Lunny and Mark Ryan. They have met with key stakeholders including the Abbey Theatre staff, artists, the Director and Directors Designate, Waking the Feminists, and a number of leaders in the field of gender equality in the arts. The sub-committee are currently developing a Gender Equality Policy, and, in conjunction with the Directors Designate, an implementation plan for the organisation. The policy will be published in the coming months.

Directors Designate: Fiach Mac Conghail continues in his role as Director / CEO of the Abbey Theatre until his contract ends on 31 December 2016. Graham McLaren and Neil Murray began their contracts as Directors Designate on 4 July 2016. The Directors Designate and Fiach Mac Conghail will work closely together in this crucial six month handover period. Graham McLaren and Neil Murray assume their roles as Directors on 1 January 2017.