By Ruud van den Beuken
In 1928, Hilton Edwards and Micheál mac Liammóir founded the Dublin Gate Theatre, which quickly became renowned for producing stylistically and dramaturgically innovative plays in a uniquely avant-garde setting. While the Gate’s lasting importance to the history of Irish theater is generally its introduction of experimental foreign drama to Ireland, Van den Beuken shines a light on the Gate’s productions of several new Irish playwrights, such as Denis Johnston, Mary Manning, David Sears, Robert Collis, and their patrons Edward and Christine Longford. Having grown up during an era of political turmoil and bloodshed that included the creation of an independent yet—in many ways—bitterly divided Ireland, these dramatists chose to align themselves with an avant-garde theater that explicitly sought to establish Dublin as a modern European capital. In examining an extensive corpus of archival resources, Van den Beuken reveals how the Gate Theatre became a site of avant-garde nationalism in Ireland’s tumultuous first post-independence decades.
“Offers an invaluable tool for advancing knowledge in the fields of drama, performance, and Irish studies with its close attention to the underexamined institution of the Gate Theatre. . . .This book will make a significant and long-lasting impact in Irish studies, theatre studies, and accounts of mid-century modernism.”—Paige Reynolds, author of Modernism, Drama, and the Audience for Irish Spectacle
“For many years, the accepted story of Irish theatre was that the Abbey was the writers’ theatre, and its rival, the Gate, was primarily a producing house. Making use of newly available archival sources, Ruud van den Beuken turns the old story on its head, and in so doing forces us to rethink Irish theatre. This book demands our attention.”—Christopher Morash, Trinity College Dublin