Dublin Theatre Festival launches with ambitious programme of in-person events

Numbers in venues restricted to 50 pending Government decisions on Covid-19 measures

The programme has been announced for this year's Dublin Theatre Festival, which runs from September 30th to October 17th. New works from Enda Walsh, Marina Carr, Deirdre Kinahan, Phillip McMahon and Mark O'Halloran are included in a wide-ranging programme of 29 productions which can be experienced in person at venues across the city, including through live performances, video installations and multimedia virtual reality presentations.

The festival is compliant with all current health regulations and guidelines, which stipulate that no more than 50 people may be present in an indoor venue at any one time. The Government has promised to publish a roadmap by the end of August for the "easing or removing" of remaining Covid restrictions, while Minister for Arts Catherine Martin has indicated that she is exploring whether vaccination passes might play a role in allowing more people to attend cultural and entertainment events. Festival director Willie White expressed his hope that current restrictions might change before the festival takes place, but said all performances and events were being planned on the basis of current regulations.

“We’re really looking forward to meeting audiences again,” said White. “It’s a moment that we will have been waiting for [for] more than a year and a half. Our current plans are for capacities of up to 50 people but we would really benefit from an acceleration in the pace of reopening.” He acknowledged that if restrictions were not eased, this would mean that tickets for many performances were likely to sell out very quickly.

"Across Europe, larger numbers of people who are vaccinated, tested or recovered [from Covid-19] have been gathering, with other countries leading the way in getting live performance back on its feet," he said.


Among the festival highlights likely to sell out fast are The First Child, the final instalment in the opera trilogy by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh, and Once Before I Go , by Phillip McMahon, which steps between the early days of the Aids crisis and today's LGBTQ+ community.

The Festival + programme will include readings, critical events and tours, including a walk through Dublin theatre history, a young critics panel and a discussion on demystifying activism in the arts.

Last year, almost all in-person live performances at the festival were cancelled when the Government introduced stricter measures in September in response to the second wave of Covid. Some of those productions will now feature in the 2021 programme, alongside a range of other work, almost all of it Irish, from companies including Rough Magic, Irish National Opera, ANU, Pan Pan and CoisCéim. The Abbey and Gate theatres will host premieres of new work, as will Project, Smock Alley and other venues.

Priority booking for friends of the festival opens at noon on Wednesday, August 11th. General booking will open at noon on Tuesday, August 24th.