Abbey Theatre



  • A theater founded in Dublin in 1904. The Abbey, which was builtat the instigation of W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregoryand financed initially by Annie Horniman, became the homeof the Irish National Dramatic Society. It presented the first peformancesof works by Yeats, Gregory, Synge, George Russell (knownas AE), and (later) Sean O'Casey, amongst others.Audiences tended to be vociferous and easily offended: the first productionsof Synge's The Playboy of the Western World (1907) and O'Casey'sThe Plough and the Stars (1926) were both greeted with riots.In 1924 the Abbey became the first state-subsidized theater in theEnglish-speaking world. A fire destroyed the original building in1951 but a new playhouse was subsequently built, opening in 1966.

    In subsequent decades the Abbey reclaimed its original role as a promoter of challenging new work with productions of plays by a younger generation of Irish playwrights, notably Brian Friel, Hugh Leonard,and Frank McGuinness. However, centenary celebrations in 2004 were marred by a severe financial and administrative crisis that led to the formation of a new company and the appointment of Fiach Mac Conghail as artistic director. In 2007 the Irish government announced plans to move the Abbey to a newly built theater complex in Dublin's rejuvenated docklands area.