Abbey leads the field in Irish Times Irish Theatre Award nominations

Controversial co-productions boost national theatre’s tally

The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards judges Paula Shields (centre), Catriona Crowe (second from right) and Ella Daly (far right) with, from far left, Gerard McNaughton and Ruth McCarthy of Tilestyle. Photograph: Tom Honan

The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards judges Paula Shields (centre), Catriona Crowe (second from right) and Ella Daly (far right) with, from far left, Gerard McNaughton and Ruth McCarthy of Tilestyle. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

The Abbey Theatre leads the way in nominations for the 22nd Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, which were announced today. Co-productions account for the majority of the Abbey’s 16 nominations, with recognition across several categories for its collaborations with Druid Theatre (Richard III) and ANU (The Lost O’Casey).

The Abbey’s production policy has been the subject of controversy since more than 300 freelance theatre practitioners sent a letter of concern last week to Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan, criticising the theatre’s increased reliance on co-productions, which they claimed was having a negative impact on incomes and career opportunities.

The letter, which was signed by many of the country’s most prominent theatre figures, claimed that actors, directors and designers were paid up to 25 per cent less than if they had been contracted directly by the Abbey.

Ms Madigan told the Dáil this week that she had urged both sides “to engage in dialogue, to engage in conversation to achieve a mutually satisfactory conclusion”.

Abbey board

The chair of the board of the Abbey, Frances Ruane, has defended the strategy being pursued by the theatre’s artistic directors, Neil Murray and Graham McLaren, and it is understood the board will meet with representatives of the signatories in the near future.

Overall, Druid has nine nominations, for Richard III, Furniture and Shelter. The Abbey also received nominations for in-house productions On Raftery’s Hill and Come on Home, while there was recognition for The Snapper and Hamlet at the Gate, and for Landmark Productions’s The Approach and Grief is the Thing with Feathers. In total, there are 60 nominations in 15 categories for the awards, in association with Tilestyle, which recognise excellence in Irish theatre in 2018. The winners will be announced in a ceremony at the National Concert Hall on March 31st.