Playwright Thomas Kilroy Honoured At The 2019 Abbey Theatre Gala
The Abbey Theatre Gala is an annual celebration of Ireland's National Theatre. Hosted by the Westbury Hotel, on Thursday 14th November, this year's event honoured Irish playwright Thomas Kilroy for his contribution to Irish theatre.
Kilroy has a long relationship with the Abbey. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of his Abbey debut; his play The O'Neill premiered on the Peacock Stage on May 30 1969. Most recently, an adaptation of his novel The Big Chapel was produced in association with the Abbey for this year's Kilkenny Arts Festival. In 2014, the Abbey commissioned a portrait of Kilroy which now hangs in the theatre.
As part of this honour, Kilroy was invited to nominate an emerging Irish theatre artist to receive a new Abbey Theatre artistic bursary. Kilroy nominated Margaret Perry, a playwright from Cork. Her play Porcelain was produced for the Abbey's Peacock Stage in 2018 and, in 2019, her new play Collapsible was presented on the Peacock Stage as part of this year's Dublin Fringe Festival.
Speakers on the night included the Abbey's Chair, Frances Ruane, Abbey Directors, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, and Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform. Guests were entertained by the company of Dermot Bolger's Last Orders at the Dockside, including Lisa Lambe and George Murphy, who performed a selection of songs from the production, which premiered on the Abbey Stage this October.
Celebrated actor Stephen Rea paid homage to Thomas Kilroy by reading and excerpt from Kilroy's memoir Over The Backyard Wall. Rea and Kilroy share a long history: Kilroy sat on the board of Field Day Theatre Company which was co-founded by Rea; two of Kilroy's plays, Double Cross and The Madame MacAdam Travelling Theatre, were staged by Field Day and Rea performed in both.
Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, Directors of the Abbey Theatre: 'The annual Abbey Theatre Gala is a moment for us to pause and reflect on the support we receive each year from our donors and supporters. This year, we also honoured Irish playwright Thomas Kilroy on the 50th anniversary of his Abbey debut. Last night, in the company of actor Stephen Rea and Minister Paschal Donohoe among others, we celebrated the rich history of Irish theatre and also looked forward to its future. It was exciting to listen to the Minister speak about our plans to redevelop the Abbey's Dublin home; it was also inspiring to see Thomas Kilroy nominate Cork playwright Margaret Perry to receive a new Abbey Theatre artistic bursary.'
Honouree playwright Thomas Kilroy: 'Margaret Perry is a writer of today. The town in which I grew up in, Callan, is under the benevolent distant shape of Slievenamon, the mountain on which the tragedy of Bridget Cleary took place. Margaret has written an extraordinary interpretive look into the history in her play Porcelain - a chilling example out of history to cast light upon the kind of turbulence that women live through today. It's a remarkable work. I am in admiration of it. In her second play, Collapsible, Margaret writes of an Ireland which creates immense stress and anxiety. It is also written with extraordinary vitality, with the zest and zing of yesterday's conversation and a sense of life continuing.'
Margaret Perry, Abbey Theatre artistic bursary recipient: 'I'm over the moon to be nominated by the inestimable Thomas Kilroy for an Abbey Theatre artistic bursary - my writing life began at the Abbey and the support and encouragement of this bursary means the world as I continue to write and make new work.'
Minister Paschal Donohoe: 'It is wonderful to be here tonight among fellow supporters of the Abbey Theatre and especially the esteemed playwright Thomas Kilroy. I join you in celebrating the year that's been and look forward to your new season of work in 2020 and the ongoing plans to redevelop the Theatre's Abbey Street site.'