Abbey Theatre

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Abbey theatre. First permanent home of the Irish National Theatre, founded by Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and W. B. Yeats to foster native drama. Yeats's verse play On Baile's Strand was the opening production in 1904 but more dramatic scenes came four years later with riots at the first night of J. M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World. Controversy also surrounded the staging of plays by Shaw and O'Casey, though the latter's The Shadow of a Gunman marked a decisive shift from Celtic twilight to Dublin tenement. The original building, on the corner of Abbey Street, was destroyed by fire in 1951.

John Saunders

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Abbey Theatre, Irish theatrical company devoted primarily to indigenous drama. W. B. Yeats was a leader in founding (1902) the Irish National Theatre Society with Lady Gregory, J. M. Synge, and A. E. (George Russell) contributing their talents as directors and dramatists. In 1904, Annie Horniman gave them a subsidy and the free use of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The theater was bought for them by public subscription in 1910. Among dramatists whose works the Abbey Theatre first presented are Padraic Colum, Lennox Robinson, Sean O'Casey, and Paul Vincent Carroll. The theater is now in a new building constructed in 1966. In close association with Irish dramatists, the Abbey also has been an important instrument in the revival of Irish drama that began in the 1960s.

See Lady Gregory, Our Irish Theatre (1913), and her journals (ed. by L. Robinson, 1946); H. Hunt, The Abbey: Ireland's National Theatre, 1904–1978 (1979); P. Kavanagh, Story of the Abbey Theatre (1984); R. Welch, The Abbey Theatre, 1899–1999 (1999).

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Abbey Theatre Theatre erected on Abbey Street, Dublin (1904), by Annie E. F. Horniman to house the Irish National Theatre Society. In 1925 the Abbey became the National Theatre of Ireland. Works by W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, J. M. Synge and Sean O'Casey have been introduced here, and the Theatre is renowned for its support of new writers.