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Finale Of Abbey Theatre's DEAR IRELAND Series To Premiere This Month

Dear Ireland will premiere online, over one evening, at 7.30pm on 17 December 2020.

Finale Of Abbey Theatre's DEAR IRELAND Series To Premiere This Month

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 audiences watching from their homes across the globe. The theatre subsequently extended an invitation to its audience to respond and write their own letters to Ireland, 20 of which were read by Ireland's leading actors from the Abbey stage and streamed in August.

Today, the Abbey announces the participants and details of the third and final part of the project. On 17th December, Dear Ireland III will feature 24 three minute postcards from underrepresented voices in Irish society.

Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, Directors of the Abbey Theatre said:

"We believe that to be a truly 'national' theatre, we need to create platforms for those who haven't always been given the space to speak. The Abbey regularly works with groups that are underrepresented, disenfranchised and marginalised, giving them opportunities to develop work that needs a national stage. We are delighted to welcome back a number of our 5x5 partners, alongside other collaborators that the Abbey has been forging relationships with, and we are proud to present their voices as part of Dear Ireland III. Some of the participants have been classed as the most 'vulnerable' during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 has been tough on all of Irish society and, indeed, the entire world. This evening of spoken word, statement and song will try to make sense of the year that was and the impact it has had on the people of Ireland.

"We could never have imagined that Dear Ireland - which began, primarily, as a mechanism to get money to artists quickly, at the beginning of the pandemic - would capture the hearts of the nation. Thank you to the captivating 128 artists, 370 letter writers and 24 community groups for participating and to the 222,999 people who heard their calls. Our hope for the Dear Ireland trilogy is that it will become a time-capsule, of sorts, for future generations, documenting the experiences of Ireland's artists, audiences and a diverse range of communities during this momentous period in history."

Dear Ireland III will feature the following organisations and community groups:

  1. Adapt Domestic Abuse Service - a voluntary organisation that provides a wide range of supports to women survivors of domestic abuse and their children across Limerick City and County.
  2. Aerach. Aiteach. Gaelach - Cainteoirí Gaeilge agus daoine LADT+ atá sa ghrúpa, agus an sprioc atá acu ná saol níos fearr a bhaint amach do chainteoirí Gaeilge sa phobal LADT+.// A group of LGBT+ Irish speakers who aim to improve life for Irish-speaking members of the LGBT+ community via talks and workshops, media campaigns and research projects.
  3. Africa Centre - Founded in 2000 by a group of activists within the African diaspora community in Ireland, encouraging and advocating for the community to be active participants and have a voice in Irish society.
  4. AkiDwA - a national network of migrant women living in Ireland.
  5. BeLonG To - A service to support LGBTI+ young people as equals to achieve a world where they are equal, safe and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences, through youth work, changing attitudes, and research.
  6. Complex Roots - a group of women in their fifties who work weekly through drama. The core reasons to make work together are their shared lived experiences as Irish working class women from Dublin, where generational poverty and structural inequality continue to impact our lives today.
  7. Discovery Gospel Choir - Ireland's leading intercultural choir with a diverse membership
  8. Dundalk Men's Shed - A community group that offers a safe, friendly and inclusive environment for men to gather together, chat, relax and work on projects at their own pace, in their own time, in the company of other men.
  9. Fatima Groups United - representative body of residents and projects in Fatima/Herberton providing key services in the areas of health and wellbeing, education, employment, arts, childcare, counselling supports, information and advice, family support and advocacy, civic awareness and community development.
  10. Garraí an Ghiorria - Comhchoiteann ildisciplíneach, Eorpach d'ealaíontóirí amharclainne le Gaeilge atá ag obair in iarthar na hEireann is ea 'Garraí an Ghiorria' / Garraí an Ghiorria are a collective of multidisciplinary artists working in the Irish language on the western seaboard.
  11. Grand Theatre Project - A Wicklow-based theatre project developed to help audiences to appreciate what it's like to live in direct provision, to adapt to life in Ireland, and to learn how to share your home not with family but with strangers who become family.
  12. Larkin Community College - a co-educational second level college in the heart of Dublin city.
  13. Listen Up! - A project that creates meaningful ways for children on the autistic spectrum to engage in the arts, giving agency to each child to share their work and experiences with the wider community.
  14. Pavee Point - A national non-governmental organisation comprised of Travellers, Roma and members of the majority population working in partnership at national, regional, local and international levels.
  15. Run of the Mill Theatre - A community-based theatre arts collective based in North Kildare making work that gives voice to the lived experiences of people with disabilities in Ireland today.
  16. Samaritans - A unique charity dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection that can lead to suicidal feelings and behaviour.
  17. SAOL Project - A community project focussed on improving the lives of women affected by addiction and poverty.
  18. Shadowbox - an ensemble of performers with intellectual disability, who have been working together for twenty years.
  19. Simon Community - The Simon Communities throughout Ireland provide the best possible care, accommodation and support for people experiencing homelessness and those at risk.
  20. SoloSIRENs - a group of women from diverse backgrounds living in South County Dublin and creating work in Tallaght. They come together as a women's collective to share and present stories that are rarely told.
  21. Swan Youth Services - A service that works with young people aged 10-24 years in North East Inner City Dublin.
  22. Tailtiu Theatre Company - Based out of Droichead Arts Centre in Louth and working with people living in Mosney Direct Provision Centre, this company uses drama to help participants find a way to express themselves creatively and to explore their identity.
  23. TENI - an organisation supporting the trans community in Ireland. TENI seeks to improve the situation and advance the rights and equality of trans people and their families.
  24. White Cane Audio - a group of blind and visually impaired people who work collaboratively to devise audio theatre for public performance and broadcast.

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 evocative music underscoring the digital project, with vocals from Lisa Lambe.

Dear Ireland will premiere online, over one evening, at 7.30pm on 17 December 2020. The performance will then be available online for six months. Streaming on the Abbey's Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter channels, the details can be found here. As well as closed captions being available, there will also be an Irish Sign Language interpreted stream available, to ensure it is a truly accessible project.

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