SOLD Hammer price: €700, Estimate: €500-700
The Gradual Decline of The Abbey
Irish Theatre. An exceptional collection of over 200 Dublin Theatre Programmes, mostly 1940s – 60s, from the Abbey, Gate, Gaiety, Olympia and other theatres, with work from the Abbey company, Edwards-MacLiammoir, Lord Longford, Cyril Cusack’s company, the Pike, the Globe, the Lantern and others, documenting a period when the centre of gravity of Irish theatre gradually shifted from the long-established companies to a range of younger and more innovative groups.
The Abbey Theatre programmes (about 20) include six Irish-language Christmas pantomime programmes (1946-53), Beckett’s Waiting for Godot with Donal McCann and Peter O’Toole (1969), revivals of O’Casey and Shaw, etc. From Edwards-Mac Liammoir, about 45 programmes from the Gate and gaiety theatres include the first productions of Brian Friel’s Crystal and Fox and Philadelphia Here I Come! Shaw’s Saint Joan with Siobhan McKenna, the world premiere of Mac Liammoir’s one-man Yeats compilation I Must Be Talking to my Friends, an evening with Sybil Thorndike (1942), and a trubte programme to the actress Coralie Carmichael organised by Hilton Edwards (1958). There are also about 30 lord Longford productions at the Gate, with some work by other producers including Eve Watkinson, Maurice O’Brien, Norah Lever & Barry Cassin.
From the Gaiety there are about 90 other programmes, with visiting London productions such as Donald Wolfit in Ibsen and Joson, regular visits by the D’Oyly Carte company, the Sadler’s Wells ballet, also local productions of Italian grand opera (1940-42) which in time became the Dublin Grand Opera Society, Cyril Cusack productions of Shaw and Synge, etc. From the Olympia, about 40 programmes include Emlyn Williams as Charles Dickens (1955), Tyrone Power in Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple (1956) John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (1959), Sybil Thorndike in the world premiere of Noel Coward’s Waiting In the Wings (1960), the Southern Theatre Group in John B. Keane’s Sive (1959) and Sharon’s Grave (1960), a range of Spanish ballet productions (1950s), etc.
Overall, the archive offers an excellent cross-section of what was available to Dublin Theatre and concert goers from the 1940’s onward, illustrating the gradual decline of the Abbey, the continuing influence of visiting London productions, and the rise of new Irish writers and producers,mostly in smaller theatres and younger companies. A very useful research collection.