The Gate: From avant-garde nationalism to cultural convergence

Two critical works address a lack of focus on the role and history of the Gate Theatre

Hilton Edwards  and Micheál Mac Liammóir in 1971: creative forces behind the Gate Theatre. Photograph: Independent News and Media/Getty

Hilton Edwards and Micheál Mac Liammóir in 1971: creative forces behind the Gate Theatre. Photograph: Independent News and Media/Getty

Avant-Garde Nationalism at the Dublin Gate Theatre, 1928-1940
By Ruud van den Beuken
Syracuse University Press, 277pp, $29.95

Cultural Convergence: The Dublin Gate Theatre, 1928-1960
Edited by Ondrej Pilny, Ruud van den Beuken and Ian R Walsh
Palgrave Macmillan, 244pp, £40.60

For most of the past century, with regard to the two theatres dominating the Dublin scene, the Abbey has engrossed almost all of the critical attention; studies of Yeats, Synge, Gregory and O’Casey still appear at regular intervals. In contrast,  there has been very little critically on the Gate since it opened its doors in 1928 (centenary alert!); the exceptions were Richard Pine, who organised exhibitions and co-authored a book on the theatre, and Christopher Fitz-Simon, whose joint biography of its two founders was published as The Boys. The rest, over 80 years, was silence.

That situation has begun to rectify itself, first with the appearance of a substantial volume on the Gate’s entire history three years ago, and now with these publications, the first two of a four-volume project by Gate Theatre Research Network, which is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

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