Directors of the Abbey, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray have shared their plans for 2019, alongside revealing that Bank of America Merrill Lynch will come on board as a Principal Partner of the theatre.
27 projects were announced – including seven weeks of development work – on the Abbey and Peacock Stages, four open calls, four touring productions and nine Free First Previews. The directors also said additional programming announcements will happen in 2019.
New productions include Lisa Tierney-Keogh’s This Beautiful Village, about a quiet suburban street in Dublin where a piece of graffiti tears apart a group of neighbours; and Dylan Coburn Gray’s Citysong, showing three generations of a Dublin family on one day.
Also, as announced last month, Edna O’Brien revisits her era-defining debut novel The Country Girls in a new Abbey Theatre stage adaptation. Denounced by the clergy and banned by the State, the coming of age story of two young women in 1950s Ireland became a best-seller. This timely production coincides with Dublin: One City One Book for 2019.
Last Orders at The Dockside by Dermot Bolger will also be performed. Set on Dublin Port in 1980, an elderly docker’s friends gather in the local pub to celebrate his life. Over the course of an evening, awash with songs, sharp Dublin wit and tales of life on the Docks, hidden tensions expose fault lines in their complex relationships.
2019 will see a major Abbey Theatre co-production with Irish theatre company THEATREclub, along with presentations of three new productions from companies making their debut on the stage of their National Theatre.
Docudrama It was easy (in the end) focuses on a company of millennial artists who have moved off the grid to live by a new philosophy. Lee Coffey’s new play In Our Veins, follows the Carrick family through 100 years of Dublin, from the notorious madams of the Monto to love in the dark tenements. Meanwhile, Mark Doherty’s Trad focuses on the relationship between an 100-year-old Irishman and his father.
There will also be the Irish premieres of Philip Ridley’s companion plays, Tonight with Donny Stixx and Dark Vanilla Jungle. The two stories will be shown in one night.
The directors of the theatre said in a statement: “The Abbey’s play commissioning and new work development process will be enhanced through the introduction of new programmes and structures within our New Work Department in 2019. At least 20 playwrights will work on drafts of new plays with us next year. We’re also supporting TWO weeks of development work for new projects that are a little further along.”
Over the course of the next eighteen months, Amy Conroy, Jimmy McAleavey, Darren Murphy and Lisa Tierney-Keogh will develop a play. Each playwright will be engaged with the New Work Department to represent the interests of, advocate for and deliver useful tools to playwrights.
Throughout the year, the Peacock will be made available for artists and companies to develop works-in-progress, supported by the Abbey Theatre. In 2019, this will include: Éist Liom by Zoe Ní Riordáin and Maud Lee and What I (Don’t) Know About Autism by Jody O’Neill
There is also Abbey Begins, a programme for playwrights who are at the start of their writing careers. The 10 selected participants will have access to a smörgåsbord of techniques, exercises and relationships with other writers to help them develop their first professional play. Applications open today.
For more established writers, there is Abbey Works, a development process for six playwrights who have already had work professionally produced. The successful writers will work towards the first drafts of six new plays in 2019. Applications open on 18 February 2019.
Also, announced was 20 for 20 in which the Abbey will welcome 20 theatre makers to avail of free tickets to 20 productions in 2019, encouraging artists from across the industry to come and see work at the venue. Applications are open today.
Returning is the series 5×5. Set up in 2018, the project saw five community groups each awarded €5,000 and five days of space and technical support in the Peacock, to develop a project they felt needed a national voice. As a winner of The Ireland Funds Flagship Award, 5×5 returns in 2019 – this time with five back to back weeks of participants in the summer. Applications open today.
The Peacock stage will also host various projects for young people. The Young Curators Festival will see a chosen group of young people tasked with curating a series of shows to provoke the youth of today. Meanwhile, Veronica Coburn and Dylan Coburn Gray will work with the National Youth Theatre Ensemble to create an original play around the theme of faith. The ensemble is made up of 16 young people from a range of youth theatres across Ireland.
Noteworthy returning plays include classic The Unmanageable Sisters and Roddy Doyle’s Two Pints. Both will run in tandem with alternating performances on the Abbey Stage, over the course of the summer in 2019. The Abbey will also continue partnerships with RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, The Lir and Royal Irish Academy of Music for event Opera Briefs and the Dublin Youth Theatre for The 24 Hour Plays series.
Out of the Abbey
Four of the Abbey productions will tour to a range of venues across Ireland, the United Kingdom and America next year including The Country Girls, CLASS, Citysong and Two Pints.
Meanwhile the Abbey will also showcase a variety of international plays including Broadway Musical Come From Away, Edinburgh Fringe’s Ulster American, Scottish musical drama Glasgow Girls, as well host the Dublin Dance Festival.
The Abbey will also make their productions more accessible in 2019, offering up 3,750 free tickets, €13 front row tickets for every show, early bird discounts and various other concessions for students and OAP’s.
In regards Bank of America Merrill Lynch becoming a partner in the Abbey, CEO of the companty Bruce Thompson said: Today’s announcement significantly deepens our existing relationship with the Abbey Theatre and reinforces our long-standing commitment to Ireland and to the arts. These are exciting times for both the theatre and for us as we establish our European banking entity headquarters in Dublin.”
For the full list of Abbey shows, see below.
Abbey & Peacock Stages
- Come From Away Until 19 Jan Abbey Stage
- The Ridleys 15 — 26 January Peacock Stage
- The 24 Hour Plays: Dublin 3 February Abbey Stage
- Glasgow Girls 13 — 16 February Abbey Stage
- The Country Girls 23 February — 6 April Abbey Stage
- Opera Briefs 26 — 30 March Peacock Stage
- Ulster American 9 — 20 April Abbey Stage
- In Our Veins 10 — 20 April Peacock Stage
- It was easy (in the end) 26 April — 4 May Abbey Stage
- Trad 29 April — 11 May Peacock Stage
- Sessions 10 — 11 May Abbey Stage
- La Natura Delle Cose 14 — 15 May Abbey Stage
- Rosas Danst Rosas 18 — 19 May Abbey Stage
- Citysong 25 May — 8 June Abbey Stage
- RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival 6 — 8 June Peacock Stage
- 5 X 5 – Week 1 10 — 14 June Peacock Stage
- 5 X 5 – Week 2 17 — 21 June Peacock Stage
- 5 X 5 – Week 3 24 — 28 June Peacock Stage
- 5 X 5 – Week 4 1 — 5 July Peacock Stage
- 5 X 5 – Week 5 8 — 12 July Peacock Stage
- The Unmanageable Sisters 14 June — 3 August Abbey Stage
- Two Pints 24 June — 10 August Abbey Stage
- Young Curators Festival 29 July — 10 August
- Ask Too Much of Me 19 — 24 August Peacock Stage
- This Beautiful Village 31 August — 14 September Abbey Stage
- Dublin Fringe Festival 7 — 22 September
- Last Orders at The Dockside 23 September — 26 October Abbey Stage
Out of the Abbey
- Two Pints, Us Tour 5 February — 18 May
- Cyprus Avenue, The Royal Court, London 14 February — 16 March
- The Country Girls, National Tour from 16 April
- CLASS, The Bush Theatre, London 7 May — 1 June
- Citysong, Soho Theatre, London 29 May — 13 July