First Look at the Abbey Theatre’s 2019 Programme

The Abbey Theatre has revealed details of its 2019 programme, with a full list to launch late November.

Directors of the Abbey Theatre, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray have announced one play, two open calls and four Associate Playwrights. Coinciding with the recently announced 2019 Dublin: One City One Book for 2019 will be a timely production of Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls on the Abbey Stage in March.

All of O’Brien’s novels published during the 1960s were ruled ‘indecent and obscene’ under the Censorship of Publications Act. The Country Girls was banned in Ireland by the authorities and publicly burned by the clergy.

However, notoriety quickly turned to fame and this coming of age story of two young women in 1950s Ireland became a best-seller. Now, the writer revisits her era-defining debut novel in a new stage adaptation, directed by McLaren. Tickets are on sale today.

“We are thrilled and honoured to work with the brilliant Edna O’Brien on her new version of the iconic The Country Girls. For the first time in forty years, we are proud to present the work of this wonderful Irish writer at her National Theatre,” said McLaren and Murray in a statement.

As well as the Abbey’s year round open call for scripts and ideas, the newly appointed Abbey Theatre Dramaturg Louise Stephens launches two new writing initiatives in 2019. Abbey Begins is a series of workshops for a group of ten playwrights at the beginning of their careers and Abbey Works is a development process for six playwrights who have already been professionally produced and are hungry to write a play for the national stage.  Applications will open later this year.

Also announced was the Abbey Theatre’s Associate Playwrights – Amy Conroy (Luck Just Kissed You Hello), Jimmy McAleavey (The Sign of the Whale), Darren Murphy (Irish Blood, English Heart) and Lisa Tierney-Keogh (Four Last Things).  Over the course of the next eighteen months, the four playwrights will each develop a play.

On top of this, as part of their associateship, each writer will be engaged for two days a month with the New Work Department to represent the interests of, advocate for and deliver useful tools to playwrights. This work will include curating and contributing to public events and working with the selected participants of Abbey Begins and Abbey Works.

“Between the Associate Playwrights, Abbey Begins and Abbey Works, twenty playwrights will have the chance to work on new plays with us in 2019. This work builds on the foundations of the previous Literary Departments at the Abbey to continue our commitment to playwrights. We look forward to sharing our full programme with you in a few weeks,”  McLaren and Murray added.

For full details on The Country Girls, see below.


Creative Team

Written and adapted by: Edna O’Brien
Directed by: Graham McLaren
Set and Costume Design: Francis O’ Connor
Lighting Design: Sinéad Wallace
Sound Design: Matt Paden


Dates: 23 February – 6 April 2019
Free First Preview: 23 February 2019
Previews: 23 – 27 February 2019
Opening night: 28 February 2019

Booking: or call 01 87 87 222

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