Abbey Theatre reveals full list of shows for 2020

Marina Carr, Brian Friel, Shelagh Delaney, Lisa Tierney-Keogh and Roddy Doyle part of the line-up

The Abbey Theatre announced its programme for 2020 on Thursday with a line-up including inhouse productions of a new cycle of plays by Marina Carr, Sheelagh Delaney’s 1958 controversial play A Taste of Honey, and Joe Dowling directing Brian Friel’s Faith Healer. The Abbey also announced six new co-productions and a number of other shows on tour.

Directors of the Abbey, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, released details of projects for the Abbey and Peacock Stages, and on tour with “a diverse, challenging and engaging” programme for theatre audiences.

The directors said they would continue their commitment to making Ireland’s National Theatre open to all, presenting stories from under-represented communities and original voices. “Week by week, our self-produced work announced today encompasses 75 per cent of the year on the Abbey Stage, and will be a showcase of outstanding theatrical ambition,” they said.

The year also features work by Lisa Tierney-Keogh, Roddy Doyle, Sarah Hanly, Jody O’Neill, Zoe Ní Riordáin, Maud Lee and Shaun Dunne.

A newly commissioned cycle of plays by award-winning playwright Carr, which is the centrepiece of the 2020 programme, will be presented as an epic theatrical event to be experienced over one day. The Boy will be directed by Caitríona McLaughlin and features a cast of 20. The play is described as “channelling the pain and beauty of Greek myth into a radically new form”. It will open during the Dublin Theatre Festival for a nine week run. The Abbey directors said it is “a compelling narrative that speaks to the cyclic nature of violence and provoked by the events that founded our modern state”.

Director Róisín McBrinn will revisit A Taste of Honey, Sheelagh Delaney’s ground-breaking debut that became a defining plays of the 20th century causing a storm because of its portrayal of mixed-race relationships, gender, and sexual orientation.

Also from the Irish canon, 40 years since his first Abbey production of Brian Friel’s Faith Healer, Joe Dowling returns to direct it for the Abbey Stage.

Abbey shows touring next year include Lisa Tierney-Keogh’s This Beautiful Village, directed by David Horan. It will return to the Abbey ahead of a national tour. Roddy Doyle’s Two Pints, which has toured Ireland, the UK and the US as well as a run this summer on the Abbey stage, will have a limited run at the Olympia Theatre in August 2020.

The Abbey production of Me, Mollser by Ali White, directed by Sarah Fitzgibbon, retelling The Plough and the Stars through its youngest character, Mollser, will be presented in both English and Irish, and will tour schools and venues with a week-long run on the Peacock Stage.

Six co-productions

Directors McLaren and Murray said co-producing the six new productions in 2020 was another “important pillar” of the programme.

“Joining forces with talented artists and theatre companies on projects that we feel say something about the world we live in and hold a mirror up to Irish society,” they said.

The Fall of the Second Republic, a co-production with The Corn Exchange, is a new ensemble comedy from Michael West and Annie Ryan (creators of Dublin By Lamplight), looking at what Ireland might have become 50 years after its independence.

Purple Snowflakes and Titty Wanks , written and performed by new Irish playwright Sarah Hanly and co-produced by London’s Royal Court Theatre, is a vibrant story of survival.

Irish language production Éist Liom (Listen to Me), inspired by the city and by the opera Carmen, is a relationship drama that ends in murder. Created by Zoe Ní Riordáin, Maud Lee and Shaun Dunne, it’s a One Two One Two and Abbey Theatre co-production, in association with Cork Midsummer Festival.

In February 2020, Irish National Opera, Theatre Lovett and the Abbey Theatre will  produce one of the greatest operas about children, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

What I (Don’t) Know About Autism by Jody O’Neill, which celebrates autistic identity and performed by autistic and non-autistic actors, is a co-production with the Abbey in association with Mermaid Arts Centre and The Everyman.

Charlene Kelly’s debut Into the Dark Woods, which is a Blue Teapot Theatre Company and Abbey Theatre co-production, explores the world as experienced by someone with an intellectual disability through the familiar archetypes of fairy-tale.

The Abbey will work with 50 artists and one theatre company getting plays in different stages of development to the next stage of development. Peacock Weeks will run for six weeks from April to May. The writers include John McCarthy, Caitriona Daly, BrokenCrow, Pom Boyd and Iseult Golden. Further details will be announced in 2020.

  • Drama at Inish, January 2nd -24th
  • The 24 Hour Plays: Dublin, January 19th
  • What I (Don't) Know About Autism, February 1st - 8th
  • Hansel and Gretel, February 8th - 15th
  • 5x5 2020, February 10th - March 13th
  • The Fall of the Second Republic, February 24th -March 14th
  • Opera Briefs, March 24th - 28th
  • Faith Healer, March 30th -May 16th
  • Ireland's Call, April 1st - 11th
  • Dublin Dance Festival-ANONYMO, May 19th - 20th
  • Dublin Dance Festival-aSH, May 22nd - 23rd
  • Dublin Dance Festival-A Love Supreme, May 29th -30th
  • RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, June 4th-6th
  • Me, Mollser, June 16th - 20th
  • This Beautiful Village, June 6th - 27th
  • Into the Dark Woods, June 25th - 27th
  • Everything Not Saved, July 1st - 11th
  • A Taste of Honey, July 6th- August 1st
  • Purple Snowflakes and Titty Wanks, July 22nd- August 1st
  • Good Vibrations, August 6th - 22nd
  • The Boy, September 17th - November 7th
  • Dublin Fringe Festival, September 5th - 20th
  • Éist Liom (Listen to Me), September 25th -October 3rd
  • From Eden / Northern Lights, November 11th - 21st