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Abbey Theatre's DEAR IRELAND Continues On 10 August 2020

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Abbey Theatre's DEAR IRELAND Continues On 10 August 2020

In April, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, Directors of the Abbey Theatre, created Dear Ireland - a moment for the country to reflect on itself in a time of crisis. This was the beginning of a national conversation, connecting 100 self-isolating artists, with over 150,000 people, watching from their homes across the globe. The Abbey Theatre has subsequently extended an invitation to its audience to respond and write their own letters to Ireland. Today, the Directors announce the participants in the next phase of the project.

Last week, 20 of Ireland's leading actors took to the stage of their national theatre, to give voice to a selection of these letters, and their performances were recorded from the empty Abbey auditorium. Actors including Bosco Hogan, Clare Monnelly, Ruth McGill and Ian O'Reilly were also joined on stage by Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu, Damien Dempsey, Sabina Higgins, Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin TD and journalist Fintan O'Toole.

Dear Ireland continues at 7.30pm on Monday, 10 August 2020, in a virtual 'open house' of letters, poems and songs that express the many different hopes, experiences and challenges facing Ireland at this time. The letters hold a mirror up to the present and document the current, uncharted territory for the audiences of the future. From Irish people living abroad who are pining for home, to those who have felt isolated in Ireland because of their race or orientation, the evening features a diverse range of voices and geographic spread.

Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, Directors of the Abbey Theatre said, "We believe the contribution of our audience is instrumental in the work we produce. So, we decided to continue our Dear Ireland project by inviting our audience to write a letter to the nation. Whether it was their thoughts on COVID-19 or Black Lives Matter, housing, the economy or something entirely different, we wanted to give them the opportunity to answer the calls of the 100 artists seen online in April and to decide, what resonates with them at this time. We received almost 400 letters from which a panel of readers shortlisted 20 letters, which will be performed as part of Dear Ireland. We look forward to sharing another collective theatrical experience, online, with audiences all over the world on 10 August."

Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin TD said, "I would like to express my appreciation to the Abbey Theatre and the artists involved for developing such a creative way to keep people connected during these uncertain times, this is no small feat to accomplish. I realise that now is a particularly challenging time for artists to develop work but recent months have shown the central role that arts and culture have in our lives. With this in mind, I was delighted to secure additional funding for the sector in the recent stimulus package."

A digital copy of each letter submitted will be preserved in the Abbey Theatre Archive adding to the digital time capsule that began with the first part of Dear Ireland in April 2020.

Alongside emotive musical performances from Damien Dempsey and recitations, poems and spoken word from Lord Mayor Hazel Chu, Sabina Higgins, Minister Catherine Martin TD and Fintan O'Toole, there will be 20 letters from the audience read by 20 actors.

LETTER WRITERS

  1. Caroline Callery
  2. Aisling Cormack
  3. Gerard Curran
  4. Pranav Darshan
  5. Sean Denyer
  6. Peadar Donohoe
  7. Dave Duggan
  8. Bridgid Galvin
  9. Rebecca Hickey
  10. Holly Lusted
  11. Laura McAuley
  12. Patricia McGrath
  13. Alice McLoughlin
  14. Patrick J.A. Nolan
  15. Lianne Quigley & Alvean Jones
  16. Biaina Ryan
  17. Michael Shevlin
  18. Ava Stapleton
  19. Sinead Troy
  20. Ranae von Meding

ACTORS

  1. Florence Adebambo
  2. Muiris Crowley
  3. Jim Cunningham
  4. Wren Dennehy
  5. Rachael Dowling
  6. Kamila Dydyna
  7. Caitriona Ennis
  8. David Fawaz
  9. Bosco Hogan
  10. Jade Jordan
  11. Sarah Kinlen
  12. Ruth McGill
  13. Clare Monnelly
  14. Bill Murphy
  15. Mary O'Driscoll
  16. Rynagh O'Grady
  17. Terry O'Neill
  18. Ian O'Reilly
  19. Lianne Quigley
  20. Catherine Walsh

Acclaimed Irish artist Maser was commissioned to create a bespoke look for Dear Ireland and his beautiful artwork will continue to be woven through the visuals. Composer Ray Harman has also contributed to Dear Ireland, with his music underscoring the digital project.

Dear Ireland will premiere online over one night at 7.30pm on 10 August 2020. Streaming on the Abbey's Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter channels, the details can be found here. The performance will then be available online for six months.

In November, Dear Ireland will further continue with 25 three minute postcards from underrepresented voices in Irish society. Featuring, will be a number of the Abbey's 5x5 partners, along with contributions from other collaborators the Abbey has been forging relationships with, some of whom have been the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Abbey works with groups that are disenfranchised and marginalised, giving them opportunities to develop theatre that needs a national voice. In these profoundly unsettling times for Irish society and the entire world, this evening of songs, stories and poems will try to make sense of the world around us.

Dear Ireland is free online. Donations to the Abbey Theatre can be made here.


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