A century ago this year, productions of W. B. Yeats's The Countess Cathleen and Edward Martyn's The Heather Field inaugurated the Irish Literary Theatre, which was to take its name from its home in Abbey Street, Dublin. Despite riot, fire, and critical controversy, the Abbey Theatre has housed Ireland's National Theatre ever since: at once the catalyst and focus for the almost unprecedented renaissance of drama witnessed by Ireland in the twentieth century. This is the first history of the Abbey to discuss the plays and the personalities in their underlying historical and political context, to give due weight to the theatre's work in Irish, and to take stock of its artistic and financial development up to the present. The research for the book draws extensively on archive sources, especially the manuscript holdings on the Abbey at the National Library of Ireland. Many outstanding plays are examined, with detailed analysis of their form and their affective and emotional content; and persistent themes in the Abbey's output are identified - visions of an ideal community; the revival of Irish; the hunger for land and money; the restrictions of a society undergoing profound change. But these are integrated with accounts of the Abbey's people, from Yeats, Martyn, and Lady Gregory, whose brainchild it was, to the actors, playwrights, directors, and managers who have followed - among them the Fays, Synge, O'Casey, Murray, Robinson, Shiels, Johnston, Murphy, Molloy, Friel, McGuiness, Deevy, Carr, and many others. The role of directors and policy-makers, and the struggle for financial security, subsidy, and new-style 'partnerships', is discussed as a crucial part of the theatre's continuing evolution.
`Welch supplies fresh material all along the way.' Christopher Murray, Irish University Review. `Welch's ... book mixes an account of the Abbey's artistic directors with synopses of the major plays and gives a good idea of the controversies and debates they inspired.' Aleks Sierz, The Times H E Supplement, 18th Aug. 00. `there is something exciting about Welch's ambition to show how the Abbey has, to quote Hamlet - as he does in his subtitle - shown the 'very age and body of the time his form and pressure'.' Aleks Sierz, The Times H E Supplement, 18th Aug. 00. `essential as reference.' Aleks Sierz, The Times H E Supplement, 18th Aug. 00. `readable, reliable and fascinating ... Readers and researchers will be indebted to the thoroughness, commitment and attention that characterise [these studies] which [are] a powerful reminder of the artre's impact on the cultures of both nations and its role in defining national identity.' Aleks Sierz, The Times H E Supplement, 18th Aug. 00. It is good to see Criostoir O Floinn and Sean O Tuama get proper attention. Hayden Murphy, The Herald, 26.01.00. It is good ... to have a record of the days of Yeats, Synge and O'Casey whent he new was revolutionary, and of the reflections on contemporary change that inform the best work of Tom Murphy and Brian Friel. Hayden Murphy, The Herald, 26.01.00. `one of this book's most important features is its focused comments on the myriad plays produced within the evolving organizational and stylistic structure that was (and is)the Abbey.' W.M Tate, Choice, Sept. 00. `This work broadens and significantly extends earlier studies ... so much to admire and appreciate in this gold mine of anecdote and interpretation.' W.M Tate, Choice, Sept. 00. `this book could hardly be more timely ... This is a very thorough survey of the works which make up the Abbey Theatre's vast and extraordinary contribution to Western drama.' Christopher Fitzsimon, The Irish Independent, 15/1/00 `Robert Welch's book should act as a clarion call to all theatre historians interested in the astonishing richness of Irish drama in the last century.' Ben Barnes, Sunday Tribune 9/1/00 `Vividly, Welch recounts the riots over mock morality and fake patriotism concerning Synge and O'Casey. His research on infighting among the mechanics and the players is diverting.' Hayden Murphy, The Glasgow Herald, 26/1/00 `scholarly and entertaining history of the abbey ... This, the fourth history of the National Theatre, is a valuable study in many ways.' Ronan Farren, The Sunday Independent 12/12/99 `Welch has one major advantage over the previous historians of the Abbey. As a fluent Irish speaker and writer who has published in both languages, he is in a position to assess the Irish-language repertory of the Abbey as well as the English.' Nicholas Grene, Irish Studies Review
Number Of Pages: 294
Published: 1st February 2000
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 16.3 x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.56