Abbey’s Artistic Directors Stepping Down

12th August 2020 by admin

On Tuesday, 28th July 2020, it was announced that Graham McLaren and Neil Murray are to step down from their roles in July 2021. The press release noted: “In view of the challenges and opportunities in the coming years, and following consideration of its strategy and its leadership requirements for that period, the board has decided that this new leadership structure is in the best interests of the national theatre”.

Their tenure was problematic, causing an outcry among theatre practitioners and provoking a highly effective campaign, of which WGI member Joe O’Byrne was at the forefront. Of particular concern to the WGI was the abolition of the position of Literary Manager and its replacement with the new role of Dramaturg, which the Guild feels diminishes the independence and status of the previous position, the importation of productions previously presented by theatre companies elsewhere and, most alarmingly, the radical reduction of the number of new, full-length plays by Irish writers actually produced and staged by the Abbey.

Attempts to get the management to address the substantive issues foundered and the temperature of the exchanges grew white hot. The Guild published a letter declaring no confidence in the Abbey Board and campaigned directly to the Arts Council and the Department of Arts, Culture and Heritage where it became clear there was a considerable sympathy with our point of view.

The Writers Guild of Ireland share the Abbey’s concern for the best interests of the national theatre, and wish the Abbey board every success in the hunt for a new director/s.

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