The Abbey Theatre Announces Details Of The 2019 Season

Over the last two years, the Abbey Theatre has welcomed close to 300,000 audience members to 97 productions and events, not only at the Abbey Theatre, but also in pubs, theatres and venues across Ireland and beyond.

Building on the success of two years of programming, today Directors of the Abbey Theatre, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, share their plans for 2019, alongside an announcement that Bank of America Merrill Lynch is to come on board as a Principal Partner of Ireland's National Theatre.

Bruce Thompson, Vice Chairman, Bank of America and CEO, Bank of America Merrill Lynch DAC 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.'

Peter Keegan, Ireland Country Executive, Bank of America Merrill Lynch added 'Bank of America Merrill Lynch is proud to support the Abbey Theatre, Ireland's National Theatre. As the Abbey's first ever Principal Partner, we are able to support the theatre's creative endeavours, from world class shows and Irish language tours across the country, to young people's workshops, mentor programmes and roadshows encouraging women into theatre production. We are proud to support an organisation that is telling important stories, broadening access to theatre, skilling for jobs and enriching the cultural lives of so many.'

Directors of the Abbey Theatre, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray (GMcL & NM) said 'Bank of America Merrill Lynch's commitment to Ireland, the arts, and to diversity and inclusion is inspiring. Our goal is to make and show work that is relevant and interesting to a modern, diverse Ireland and we are delighted that Bank of America Merrill Lynch are partnering with us in this ambition. The Abbey Theatre is artist-led and audience-focused. The support that this partnership brings will go towards our artists, access programmes and productions, which ultimately will benefit our audience.'

Today's announcement consists of 27 projects - including 7 weeks of development work - on the Abbey and Peacock Stages, 4 open calls, 4 touring productions and 9 Free First Previews and aligns with a new 5 year strategy that was published recently. The Directors also plan to announce additions to the programme in early 2019.

New Productions

GMcL & NM - 'We are committed to presenting and supporting new writing - this has been a pillar of our programming model to date. Every piece of new writing on the Peacock Stage over the last two years has completely sold out. With this success in mind, next year will see two new plays premiere on the Abbey Stage, with an intimate, re-configured auditorium.'

This Beautiful Village - A new play, about power, by Abbey Theatre Associate Playwright Lisa Tierney-Keogh. On a quiet suburban street in Dublin, a piece of graffiti tears apart a group of neighbours, forcing them to confront their pride, privilege and prejudice. This world premiere Abbey Theatre production will be directed by Emma Jordan.

Citysong - The Abbey Theatre and Soho Theatre co-produce the world premiere of Dylan Coburn Gray's Verity Bargate Award-winning play. Citysong is a play. It's a poem. It's a chorus of voices showing us 3 generations of a Dublin family on one day, and it turns out one day holds the entire past. Directed by Abbey Theatre Associate Director Caitríona McLaughlin.

GMcL & NM - 'In 2019, we are excited to produce a new adaptation from Edna O'Brien and the world premiere of a new Dermot Bolger play at the Dublin Theatre Festival. It is a true privilege to work with some of Ireland's greatest living writers.'

The Country Girls - Announced last month, Edna O'Brien revisits her era-defining debut novel in a new Abbey Theatre stage adaptation, directed by Graham McLaren. 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 - Dublin Port, 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. Graham McLaren reunites with Dermot Bolger, following their collaboration on Ulysses, to present this Dublin Port Commission.

GMcL & NM - 'Our relationship with vibrant contemporary artists, writers and theatre makers also extends to artists who are working collectively. 2019 sees a major Abbey Theatre co-production with provocative and prolific Irish theatre company THEATREclub, along with presentations of three new productions from companies making their debut on the stage of their National Theatre.'

It was easy (in the end) - This is the best time in the history of the world to be alive. A company of millennial artists has moved off the grid to live by a new philosophy. This explosive docudrama is their story. THEATREclub explores imagination as an act of resistance, in a new co-production with the Abbey Theatre.

The Ridleys - The Irish premieres of Philip Ridley's compelling companion plays, Tonight with Donny Stixx and Dark Vanilla Jungle, both darkly hilarious, searingly honest and painfully poetic. Theatre Upstairs presents at the Abbey Theatre for the first time, as Karl Shiels directs performers Rex Ryan and Katie Honan in two stories, shown in one night.

In Our Veins - A new play by Lee Coffey for Bitter Like a Lemon and Dublin Port Company. This play follows the Carrick family through 100 years of Dublin, from the notorious madams of the Monto to love in the dark tenements. This is the story of a Dublin City that no longer exists, where it came from and the people that helped build it.

Trad - A poignant, absurd and hilarious tale of a 100-year-old Irishman... and his father, written by Mark Doherty. Together they set out to discover the son they never knew he had. Directed by Aaron Monaghan, this new production of the award-winning play Trad marks the return of award-winning Livin' Dred Theatre Company.

Open calls, Associate Playwrights and project development

GMcL & NM - '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 2 weeks of development work for new projects that are a little further along.'

Associate Playwrights - Over the course of the next eighteen months, Amy Conroy, Jimmy McAleavey, Darren Murphy and Lisa Tierney-Keogh will each 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.

Development Weeks - Throughout the year, the Peacock is 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
  • What I (Don't) Know About Autism by Jody O'Neill
  • 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. (Link goes live at 12pm)
  • Abbey Works - A development process for 6 playwrights who have already had work professionally produced. The successful writers will work towards the first drafts of 6 new plays in 2019. Applications open on 18 February 2019. (Link goes live at 12pm)
  • 20 for 20 - The Abbey Theatre will welcome 20 theatre makers to avail of free tickets to 20 Abbey Theatre Productions in 2019, encouraging artists from across the industry to come and see work at their National Theatre. Applications open today. (Link goes live at 12pm)
  • 5x5 - This year, the inaugural 5x5 series saw 5 community groups each awarded €5,000 and 5 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, 5x5 returns in 2019 - this time with 5 back to back weeks of participants in the summer. Applications open today. (Link goes live at 12pm)

Summer at the Peacock

GMcL & NM - 'Our organisation's strong commitment to diversity and equality continues as we strive to build a modern, outward-looking theatre. Next summer, we will be handing the reins of the Peacock over, beginning with 5 weeks of 5x5 and followed with programming for and by young people.'

Young Curators Festival - Luke Casserly (Longford), Martha Knight (Dublin), Aoife Nugent (Antrim), CN Smith (Louth), and Allie Whelan (Kildare) were selected from 120 applications to be the Abbey Theatre's Young Curators. Tasked with curating 2 weeks of programming at their National Theatre, they are seeking shows to provoke our young and young at heart citizens.

Ask Too Much of Me - Veronica Coburn and Dylan Coburn Gray 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.

Unmissable productions

GMcL & NM - 'Every year we bring back a number of 'unmissable' productions. This gives audiences a chance to see some of the popular productions they may have missed, or a chance to see them again if they really loved them. The Unmanageable Sisters will run in tandem with Two Pints, with alternating performances on the Abbey Stage, over the course of the summer in 2019.'

The Unmanageable Sisters - Deirdre Kinahan's new version of Michel Tremblay's fêted Quebecois comedy, Les Belles-Sœurs, returns! It's Ballymun in 1974 and 15 women gather together for a ferociously funny night.

Two Pints - After two sold-out tours of pubs across Ireland and the UK, Roddy Doyle's 'achingly, breathtakingly funny' Two Pints takes to the Abbey Stage. Two men meet for a pint. They talk about their Da's, death, Nigella, North Korea, the afterlife...

Also returning

GMcL & NM 'As well as 2 returning Abbey Theatre productions, we will welcome some amateur and student groups in 2019. We are proud to continue our partnerships with RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, The Lir and Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) and The 24 Hour Plays and Dublin Youth Theatre. Get a ticket while you can - these events always sell out.'

RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival - The winner of the Abbey Theatre Award, at the 2019 festival of amateur dramatics taking place in Athlone, will perform on the Peacock Stage.

The 24 Hour Plays: Dublin is back for the eighth consecutive year. Within 24 hours, six short plays will be written, rehearsed and performed by the best of Irish writing and directing talent and over two dozen of Ireland's stars of stage and screen. All proceeds from this special gala fundraiser go directly to Dublin Youth Theatre.

Opera Briefs - Steered by The Lir and RIAM in the fields of theatre and music, Opera Briefs affords Irish audiences the opportunity to experience first-hand the next generation of Irish opera singers and stage technicians. The team will present Francesca Caccini's opera, La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola di Alcina.

Out of the Abbey

GMcL & NM - 'One of our big missions is to take the Abbey beyond Dublin and, indeed, Ireland. Abbey Theatre productions have already been achieving great things and helping to fulfil the country's ambition to double its global footprint. 4 productions will tour to a range of venues across Ireland, the United Kingdom and America next year.'

  • National tour
    • The Country Girls (full details above) tours to the Cork Opera House, the Town Hall Theatre in Galway and the Lime Tree Theatre in Limerick following its run on the Abbey Stage.
  • International tours
    • Two Pints tours to 8 pubs and venues in America, from Pennsylvania to California.
    • Cyprus Avenue - David Ireland's award-winning play returns to the Royal Court in London for a 6-week run in March.
    • CLASS - After a sell-out Fringe First Award-winning run in Edinburgh, CLASS is off to the Bush Theatre in London.
    • Citysong ­- This Abbey Theatre and Soho Theatre co-production will transfer to London, in May, after its run in Dublin.

GMcL & NM - 'As our work is touring internationally - we are also proud to be presenting some International productions to Irish audiences in 2019. Our international strategy doesn't just bring our shows out into the world; it also looks to artists from abroad to collaborate with us.'

Come From Away - Junkyard Dog Productions and Smith & Brant Theatricals in a co-production with the Abbey Theatre present the long-awaited European premiere of Come From Away on the Abbey Stage next month. This smash-hit Canada to Broadway musical, will transfer to the West End in January, following its run in Dublin.

Ulster American - From the writer of Cyprus Avenue, comes the most talked-about show of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe of 2018. Exploring abuses of power, the confusion of cultural identity and the silencing of the female voice, David Ireland's Ulster American is confrontational and brutally funny - not for the faint of heart, and not to be missed.

Glasgow Girls - The life-affirming, song-filled Scottish musical drama, based on the true story of 7 feisty teenagers fighting for the rights of their asylum-seeking best friend. Written by Cora Bissett and David Greig, Glasgow Girls was the biggest selling show Edinburgh Festival Fringe of 2016.

  • Dublin Dance Festival in partnership with the Abbey Theatre
    • Rosas danst Rosas - An international breakthrough, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's choreography is a benchmark in the history of postmodern dance and is regarded as one of the great artworks of the late 20th century.
    • Session: Colin Dunne and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui - Experience leading traditional Irish dance artist, Colin Dunne and internationally revered Flemish-Moroccan choreographer and dancer, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui performing together.
    • La Natura Delle Cose - In a performance of overwhelming beauty, five dancers move as a single body to create a rich visual poem that presents the masked character of Venus at three stages of life. This piece is choreographed by Virgilio Sieni.

Accessible for all

GMcL & NM - 'We want the Abbey Theatre and its audience to be reflective of Ireland. To us, this means presenting work all over Ireland, work for all ages and backgrounds and work at affordable ticket prices. Our tickets range from €0 to a top price €47.'

  • Free First Previews - More than 6,000 people have queued to get a free ticket to the Abbey's Free First Previews to date. 2019 will have a minimum of 3,750 tickets on offer for free.
  • €13 front row tickets for every show on the Abbey Stage.
  • Early bird discounts run until 6 weeks out from a show's start date.
  • Discounts for theatre makers, students, the unwaged and OAPs - contact box-office to book.

GMcL & NM - 'We plan to announce additional programming for the latter months of the year in early 2019.'

Graham McLaren and Neil Murray will interview a selection of the artists and collaborators in a live broadcast stream at 7pm this evening. Tune in here. Booking for the Abbey Theatre's 2019 Season starts today - tickets are on sale now at abbeytheatre.ie.

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