The Abbey and the Idea of a Theatre

Levitas, Ben. 2016. The Abbey and the Idea of a Theatre. In: Nicholas Grene and Chris Morash, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Theatre. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 41-57. ISBN 9780198706137 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The Irish national theatre movement developed in the ferment of cultural nationalism at the turn of the century, but it was not at all clear what form a national theatre should take: an Ibsenian model of critical realism, favoured by Edward Martyn, George Moore, and John Eglinton, the mythological poetic drama of Yeats, or the peasant plays that came to be written by Yeats and Gregory. Apart from the playwrights, the company of actors formed around the Fay brothers, nationalist groups such as Maud Gonne’s Inghinidhe na hEireann, and the Abbey’s English patron Annie Horniman all had ideas of their own. This chapter analyses the national and theatrical politics of the period up to the death of Synge in 1909, paying particular attention to the ways in which debates of the period centred around the idea of an Irish theatre in ways that were to influence future generations.

Item Type:

Book Section

Identification Number (DOI):


Abbey Theatre, W. B. Yeats, Edward Martyn, Augusta Gregory, Maud Gonne, John Eglinton, realism, propaganda

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)
Theatre and Performance (TAP) > The Pinter Centre for Performance and Creative Writing (PCPCW)


7 July 2016Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

18 Oct 2016 09:41

Last Modified:

25 Feb 2021 10:08


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