As Ireland’s national theatre, the Abbey Theatre’s ambition is to enrich the cultural lives of everyone with a curiosity for and interest in Irish theatre, stories, artists and culture. Courage and imagination are at the heart of our storytelling, while inclusivity, diversity and equality are at the core of our thinking. Led by Co-Director’s Caitríona McLaughlin (Artistic Director) and Mark O’Brien (Executive Director), the Abbey Theatre celebrates both the rich canon of Irish dramatic writing and the potential of future generations of Irish theatre artists.
Ireland has a rich history of theatre and playwriting and extraordinary actors, designers and directors. Artists are at the heart of our organisation, with Marina Carr and Conor McPherson as Senior Associate Playwrights and Caroline Byrne as Associate Director.
Our stories teach us what it is to belong, what it is to be excluded and to exclude. Artistically our programme is built on twin impulses, and around two questions: “who we were, and who are we now?” We interrogate our classical canon with an urgency about what makes it speak to this moment. On our stages we find and champion new voices and new ways of seeing, our purpose – to identify combinations of characters we are yet to meet, having conversations we are yet to hear.
Our mission is to effectively and imaginatively engage with all of Irish society through the production of ambitious, courageous theatre in all its forms. The Abbey Theatre is artist-led and audience-focused: we seek to ensure our programmes are driven by ambitious, big ideas by theatre-makers of all disciplines, relevant to our times and reflective of our role as a national theatre.
Is é ár misean a bheith ag gabháil go héifeachtach agus go samhlaíoch le sochaí na hÉireann go huile trí léiriú a dhéanamh ar amharclannaíocht uaillmhianach chróga de gach uile ghné. Ealaíontóirí iad na ceannródaithe in Amharclann na Mainistreach, amharclann atá dírithe ar an lucht féachana: féachaimid lena chinntiú gur smaointe móra uaillmhianacha ó amharclannóirí i ngach aon disciplín a spreagann ár gcláir ar daoine iad a bhaineann lenár ré agus a thugann léargas ar ár ról mar amharclann náisiúnta.
Caitríona McLaughlin – Artistic Director
Caitríona was born in Donegal and studied science at the University of Ulster before moving into theatre. She was Associate Director at the Abbey Theatre from 2017-2020, where her productions included: The Great Hunger by Patrick Kavanagh (with Conall Morrison); Citysong by Dylan Coburn Gray (ITTA nomination Best New Play); On Raftery’s Hill by Marina Carr, (for which she won Best Director at the 2019 ITTA); and Two Pints by Roddy Doyle, which toured widely in Ireland and the USA. She also worked with theatre and opera companies on both sides of the border, including Wexford Opera, Hot for Theatre, INO, The Local Group, and Landmark, and she was the director on O’Casey in the Estate, a TV documentary shown on RTE.
Prior to moving into directing, with Patrick McCabe’s Frank Pig Says Hello at the Finborough Theatre in London in 2003, Caitríona worked as a drama facilitator in Northern Ireland, working with young people and in conflict resolution. In London, she directed numerous productions, focusing primarily on new writing, and collaborated with the Royal Court in sourcing and developing a new theatre space. She was awarded a Clore Fellowship in 2007 and subsequently spent six summers with LAByrinth Theatre Company in New York developing new plays for Artistic Directors John Ortiz and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, at their Summer Intensive. During this time Caitríona also directed a number of plays in New York including Killers and other Family (part of the OBIE award-winning Hilltown Plays) and plays at Atlantic Theatre, Rattlestick, and Bard Summerscape.
Mark O’Brien – Executive Director
From Bray, Co Wicklow, Mark studied at University College Dublin, graduating with a Master’s degree in English Literature. He has had over 25 years’ experience in the theatre and wider culture sectors, as a leader, facilitator, actor, sound designer, administrator, and theatre director. He has also led, directed, and developed work in the youth theatre sector, and with Team Educational Theatre Company.
Mark was previously Director of axis arts centre Ballymun. Over ten years, he developed axis into an organisation and space of local, national and international renown, that created, facilitated and produced new and significant work, across theatre, arts development and engagement contexts. Mark led the organisation through two years of mentorship on the New Stream programme with the Devos Institute, at the University of Maryland and Business to Arts and completed a postgraduate diploma in Innovation and Social Enterprise at the Ryan Academy. Under his leadership, axis became an artistic and cultural hub for both artist and public, saw a 100% increase in gross box office, developing new income streams, a building expansion, and a new operational model, all while instilling a developmental and supportive ethos with the over 35 full / part-time staff, and many artists / collaborators. His driving force was to achieve a shared vision of excellence through inclusion.
He built strong relationships with a range of stakeholders, across a diverse range of sectors – artistic, cultural, non-profit, private, statutory, academic, local government and government – and collaborated nationally and internationally with bodies including Dublin Port Company, British Council, St Patricks Festival, Health Service Executive, Creative Carbon Scotland, and Creative Europe.
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