Archive for the ‘the Abbey’ Category

2008 Stewart Parker Award

29th April 2009 by Maura McHugh

The 2008 Stewart Parker Award for new playwrights was awarded to Newry playwright Abbie Spallen last week at an event in the Abbey Theatre attended by President Mary McAleese.

Two further awards – The BBC Northern Ireland Radio Drama Award and The BBC Northern Ireland Irish Language Drama Award – were awarded to Elaine Murphy and Seán Ó Morónaigh respectively.

Set up in honour of the late Belfast playwright, Stewart Parker, the Stewart Parker Trust seeks to encourage new writing for the theatre in Ireland.

This year marks the 21st anniversary of Parker’s death and the 20th year of the Awards.

Abbey Finances Healthy

29th April 2009 by Maura McHugh

An article on the Irish Times today summarises the latest report on the state of the Abbey Theatre’s finances from 2006-2008, which was launched yesterday.

During that three-year period the Abbey Theatre received a record investment of €25.7 million from the Arts Council through the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism to alleviate a fiscal crisis. The national theatre is expected to move to its new home in George’s Dock by 2016, according to the Minister of State Martin Mansergh.

The report, which makes a strong case for reorganisation and State investment, points to the radical restructuring of the company under director Fiach Mac Conghail, an increase in attendance of 19 per cent between 2006 and 2008, and the redesign and improvement of its main auditorium in 2007. It also cites the theatre’s re-engagement and collaboration with Irish and international writers such as Marina Carr, Roddy Doyle, Brian Friel, Séamus Heaney, Conor McPherson, Paul Mercier, Tom Murphy, Mark O’Rowe and Sam Shepard.

The review includes a recent economic impact study commissioned by the Abbey, where Prof Dominic Shellard, of the University of Sheffield, and Derrick Elliss found the theatre generated €3.60 for every €1 of funding over the three years, contributing €118 million to the Irish economy.

Over the period, 32 productions were staged. They were seen by 375,000 people and employed 309 actors (and nearly 800 actors had work in productions, readings and workshops). Seven shows were world premieres and four were Irish premieres, including Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer and John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt.

Mr Mac Conghail said the theatre was in a healthy and successful position. “We promised our artists, audiences and the taxpayer that we would commit to change and provide great theatre to our citizens and I believe we have achieved this. I believe strongly there is a need for the Abbey to provide leadership and support to our writers, theatre makers and our audiences . . . and we are in a position to deliver on this promise.”

The report notes that the Abbey recorded a surplus of €3,361,868 at the end of the period, because of factors including prudent budgeting, tighter cost-control, later-than-expected rollout of some plans and an increase in box office income. The surplus will offset the 16.5 per cent reduction in the National Theatre’s Arts Council grant for 2009.

New Abbey Will Go Ahead

9th March 2009 by Maura McHugh

The Stage reports that Martin Cullen, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, has pledged that the new Abbey Theatre will be completed despite the Irish government’s difficult economic situation.

The information came out of an exchange between Cullen and opposition party spokeswoman on the arts, Olivia Mitchell of Fine Gael, during a recent Dáil session.

“It’s incredible it could take so long,” she said. “It is not as if the minister is designing the building – he’s merely presiding over the drawing up of competition guidelines for someone else to design it. If that process can take years, as it has, how long will it take to build the theatre? The project has turned into a dramatic saga to rival anything the Abbey might stage.”

But the minister insisted progress was being made. “The project is complex,” he said. “There is a myriad of technical, procedural and legal factors to address, but the final work is being done at the moment.”

A free site has been provided for the theatre in the Dublin docklands and the project is to be developed on a ‘build, finance and maintain basis’ through a public-private partnership arrangement.

Mitchell questioned whether it was realistic to depend on public-private partnerships in the current uncertain economic conditions. “Was the project really being put on the long finger?”, she asked.

In reply, the minister said that delivering the new theatre was a top government priority. The design competition would get under way shortly, he promised, and added: “I am confident that when the competition is complete, we will have a world class design for a new iconic building for the city.”

O’Rowe Wins Fringe First

18th August 2008 by Maura McHugh

The Culture Ireland web site reports that the Abbey Theatre’s production of Terminus, written by Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe, has won a prestigious Scotsman Fringe First Award.

The Fringe First Awards, selected by The Scotsman’s team of veteran theatre critics, are given to outstanding new work appearing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and are highly coveted among the thousands of new plays produced at the festival. This UK premiere of Terminus has been generously supported by Culture Ireland.

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Martin Cullen TD, congratulated Ireland’s national theatre and playwright, O’Rowe, on their award and said, “This award for the production of Terminus by the Abbey Theatre, following Druid Theatre’s award last week, is a validation of the continuing strength of Irish theatre and an important international recognition of the talent of our young Irish playwrights”.

Also commending the Abbey, the Chief Executive of Culture Ireland, Eugene Downes, claimed, “Winning two Fringe Firsts, in the intense competition of Edinburgh, affirms Irish theatre’s position as a world leader. It’s a marvelous achievement for Mark O’Rowe, The Abbey, and a great cast and creative team.”

Terminus runs at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh until Saturday 23 August.

Abbey Theatre face-lift

21st March 2007 by Maura McHugh

According to RTÉ the Abbey Theatre has announced the details of the €730,000 redesign of its auditorium space.

The project, which is due to take 10 days, involves the complete removal of the present seating and the installation of a new raked floor.

The new auditorium will hold 492 seats and also provide two designated wheelchair places.

According to the theatre, sightlines and acoustics will be significantly improved.

Long terms plans for the Abbey include a re-location to the Docklands by 2010 in a theatre designed by the winner of a juried competition.