Q and A: What’s going on at the Abbey that has angered so many? #Irish_TimesJanuary 12, 2019
The Abbey counters that it still stages a significant number of its own productions and that its new approach has opened up the national theatre to a wider range of companies and artists.
It also points out that, even with the increased number of coproduced and presented shows, Abbey funding is still going to theatre companies and artists.
As Ireland’s national theatre the Abbey gets the lion’s share – €7 million this year – of State drama funding.
In part this is to allow it to stage significant but less commercial plays.
But many long-established and highly regarded actors are frustrated – and impoverished – because the national theatre is now directly employing far fewer actors despite having more shows on its stages.
The same goes for directors, designers and other professionals.
Theatre workers say the Abbey’s new strategy is further reducing the viability of a career for those who make the “product”.
The letter says no Ireland-based actor will have been directly employed on an Abbey stage in an Abbey Theatre production for the 5½ months between the final performance of Jimmy’s Hall , on September 8th, 2018, and the opening of The Country Girls , on February 23rd this year.
The Abbey says it has “huge respect for the artists who have signed the letter, and we take its content and the concerns raised by this important group of practitioners very seriously”.
Neil Murray and Graham McLaren’s welcome opening up of the national theatre seems to have had a number of unforeseen consequences for the people who make theatre happen.