Abbey Theatre collection, 1904-1994
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Brief Description:

The Abbey Theatre collection covers a period of approximately 65 years.  The material includes theatre programs, photographs, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, miscellaneous correspondence, architectural briefs and designs, cheques and receipts, and some material about Sara Allgood, a leading actress of the Irish theatre.

The bulk of the collection consists of selected Abbey Theatre programs, 1904-1970, arranged chronologically, all in good condition and in their original covers.  Also included are the program of the opening night of the Abbey, 27 December 1904, and the program announcing the first productions of some of the controversial plays (such as Playboy of the Western World, January 1907).  In addition to the Abbey Theatre programs, there are samples of programs from the Abbey Experimental Theatre, Apollo Theatre, Dublin Gate Theatre, Royalty and Royal Court Theatre, and Q Theatre.

The photographs include some scenes from Abbey plays, as well as two photographs of the old Abbey Theatre after the fire and six photographs of the new Abbey Theatre.  The newspaper clippings and magazine articles provide information about the Abbey after the fire.  The folder which holds material about Sara Allgood has a photocopy of her photograph; the first three pages of The Image, a play by Lady Gregory, which apparently belonged to Allgood; a note, dated 25 July 1911, in her own handwriting; and a postcard from the Abbey's 1911 tour of the United States.

Held at:
Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
605 Agriculture Dr.
MC 6632
Carbondale, IL 62901
Phone: 618-453-2516
Fax: 618-453-3451
Email: speccoll [at]
Record Series Number: 1/4/MSS 053
Created by: Abbey Theatre
Volume: 1.0 Boxes
Arrangement: Organized by subject: Abbey Theatre programs, Abbey Theatre photographs, New Abbey Theatre press releases and clippings, Sara Allgood, Miscellaneous Abbey documents, and Programs and playbills of other theatres.
Biographical Note for Abbey Theatre :

The Abbey Theatre (1904- ) is the Irish theatrical company devoted primarily to indigenous drama (presenting the Irish character with an Irish audience in mind). W. B. Yeats was a leader in founding (1902) the Irish National Theatre Society with Lady Gregory, J. M. Synge, Edward Martyn and A. E. (George Russell) contributing their talents as directors and dramatists. In 1904, Annie Horniman gave them a subsidy and the free use of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The theater was bought for them by public subscription in 1910. Among the many dramatists whose works the Abbey Theatre first presented are Padraic Colum, Lennox Robinson, Sean O'Casey, and Paul Vincent Carroll. The Abbey began touring America in 1911 and was not well received. However, they were appreciated by the next generation when they returned to New York and Boston in the 1930s. In 1951, a fire destroyed the theatre and the company spent fifteen years at the Queen's Theatre until the new building opened in 1966.

In close association with Irish dramatists, the Abbey also has been an important instrument in the revival of Irish drama that began in the 1960s. From 1977 to 1983, the Abbey's small experimental theatre, the Peacock, saw the rise of a new school of playwrights, including J. Graham Reid, Bernard Farrell, Tom MacIntyre, Frank McGuinness, Neil Donnelly, Michael Harding, Dermot Bolger, and Sebastian Barry. Some of the work of Farrell and McGuinness was also successful on the larger Abbey stage. Nevertheless, the work of an earlier generation of playwrights--particularly Brian Friel, Tom Murphy, and Hugh Leonard--has been the mainstay of the Abbey repertoire since the 1970s.

Access Restrictions: Unrestricted access.
Subject Index
Irish drama. - 20th century
Theater - Ireland - 20th century
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright.  Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in this collection.  Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.
Acquisition Notes: Purchased
Related Materials: Abbey Theatre Collection, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University, Atlanta, GA and Abbey Theatre Collection,  John J. Burns Library, Archives and Manuscripts, Boston College, Boston, MA.
PreferredCitation: [after identification of item(s)], Abbey Theatre collection, Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Finding Aid Revisions: Updated finding aid 2018.