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Abbey Theatre, The

The Countess Cathleen, The Heather Field, Cathleen Ni Houlihan, The Pot of Broth

irish yeats society national

the home of the Irish National Theatre Society, named after Abbey Street in Dublin, where its permanent theatre was established in 1904. Following discussions between W. B. Yeats, Lady Augusta Gregory, and Edward Martyn, the Irish Literary Theatre was founded and staged its first productions of Yeats's The Countess Cathleen and Martyn's The Heather Field in 1899. In 1901 Yeats's disagreements with Martyn led him to join with the actors Frank and William Fay to form the Irish National Dramatic Society, which produced his Cathleen Ni Houlihan and The Pot of Broth in 1902. The Irish Literary Theatre and the Irish National Dramatic Society subsequently amalgamated to become the Irish National Theatre Society, which staged J. M. Synge's Riders to the Sea in 1904. In that year Miss Annie F. Horniman provided the company with funding to purchase and equip the theatre in Abbey Street. On its opening night in 1904, the Abbey Theatre presented Yeats's On Baile's Strand, Cathleen Ni Houlihan, and Lady Gregory's Spreading the News. Tensions between those who supported the theatre as a platform for political nationalism and those for whom it was primarily an artistic forum were brought to a head when Synge's The Playboy of the Western World was produced in 1907. Miss Horniman withdrew her patronage in 1910 when Yeats defied her request to close the theatre for the funeral of Edward VII. George Bernard Shaw and Padraic Colum were among the dramatists who consolidated the reputation of the Abbey company, which won acclaim on its early tours of England for the restrained naturalism of its acting style. Sean O'Casey's The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock, and The Plough and the Stars were the most successful productions of the 1920s. In 1925 the Irish Government began its subsidy of the Abbey, making it the first theatre in the English-speaking world to receive state support. In 1951 the buildings were destroyed by fire and the company was based in Dublin's Queen's Theatre until 1966, when a new Abbey Theatre was opened on the original site.

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