Abbey rejuvenates Peacock and Fiona Shaw comes to Wexford

A version of ‘The Tempest’, set in west Kerry, called ‘A Shitstorm’, is slated for theatre

The Abbey Theatre has announced a programme of 20 productions for the Peacock, the National Theatre's problematic studio space.

The venue is described as "The engine room of Irish theatre" on its entrance but in recent years it has been largely inactive. The Abbey's new directors, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, are hoping to fire it up again.

The programme includes new plays by Owen McCafferty, Stacey Gregg and Dead Centre. They are joined by debut appearances from Scotland's Frances Poet, with an adaptation of Jean Racine's Andromaque, What Put the Blood In, and from Irish writer Simon Doyle, with a version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, set in West Kerry, and called The Shitstorm.

McCafferty’s play, Fire Below, in a co-production with Belfast’s Lyric Theatre, is a black comedy in which two couples reveal their deepest prejudices over a wine-soaked evening. Gregg’s latest, Josephine K and the Algorithms, is about the age of big data and the intrusion of tech into politics. Dead Centre’s new work, Hamnet, a monologue for an 11-year-old boy inspired by the death of Shakespeare’s young son, will be developed in the space before premiering in Berlin’s Schaubune in April.

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Rapid-reaction events

The venue will host six visiting productions, including Pat Kinevane with his trilogy Forgotten, Silent and Underneath; Syrian dancer Mithkal Alzghair's war-themed work Displacement; and Druid's new production of Mark O'Rowe's horrific fantasy Crestfall. Theatre Lovett will also visit with They Called Her Vivaldi, while developing a new piece, Frankenstein.

McLaren and Murray intend to make the space function both as a performance venue and a workshop, with works-in-progress taking place from writer Paul Howard; Moonfish Theatre; dance artist Oona Doherty; and writer/performer Shane O'Reilly. Their intention is also to make it a flexible and responsive venue, with three rapid-reaction events scheduled for May, featuring "urgent responses to urgent issues".

Meanwhile, Wexford Festival Opera announced its programme for 2017. The highlight is a version of Medea directed by Fiona Shaw. The Irish actor was previously nominated for a Tony for that role.

Also on the bill is Jacopo Foroni’s Margherita, and Franco Alfano’s Risurrezione. This year the festival expands across 18 days, starting on October 19th.