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Abbey Theatre launches their free digital theatre series tonight, featuring Brendan Gleeson, Sinead Burke and Emmet Kirwan

by Lauren Heskin
28th Apr 2020

Get the popcorn ready for the Abbey Theatre “Dear Ireland” four-part digital theatre series, which begins tonight.

There are so many ways in which our world has been made smaller since the outbreak of Covid-19, but one significant example is the impact it is having on our already-struggling creative communities. Groups have tried to alleviate this, whether it’s Creatives Against Covid-19 asking illustrators, artists and photographers to donate pieces for posters to raise money for charity, or museums and galleries opening up for digital tours.

Now, we’re about to get a peek inside the Abbey Theatre’s response, as they get set to launch “Dear Ireland” tonight at 7.30pm on YouTube. The digital theatre series will run over four nights and is an innovative collaboration between the national theatre and 100 participating artists.

As an immediate response to the crisis, The Abbey commissioned 50 monologues for Irish creatives around the country and further afield, with each one paired with a performer who has pre-recorded their performance from home.

Acting as a platform for Irish artists to gather during these uncertain times, “Dear Ireland” will include: a piece by Sinead Burke and performed actress Eleanor Walsh, written from the activist’s family home in Co Meath; Brendan Gleeson performing a monologue written for him by Pom Boyd; and a Blindboy-penned script performed by Cathy Belton. Irish artist Maser has also been commissioned to create artwork that will be woven through the performances.

Each playlet will be introduced by the Abbey Theatre’s Visitor Services Manager, Con Doyle, and there will be a three-minute interval between each performance to encourage people to discuss the performance in the live chat.

Starting tonight with the first eleven monologues and running until Friday, each of the four episodes will begin live at 7.30pm on the Abbey Theatre’s YouTube channel and be available to playback for 24 hours. On May 2, the channel will then make all 50 monologues available to the public for six months.


Here is the full list of the writer/performer collaborations:

  1. Blindboy / Cathy Belton
  2. Dermot Bolger / Dawn Bradfield
  3. Pom Boyd / Brendan Gleeson
  4. Sinéad Burke / Eleanor Walsh
  5. TKB (Thommas Kane Byrne) / Ericka Roe
  6. Dylan Coburn Gray / Leah Minto
  7. Karen Cogan / Siobhán McSweeney
  8. John Connors / Graham Earley
  9. Kit de Waal / Peter Gowen
  10. Shaun Dunne / Eva-Jane Gaffney
  11. Iseult Golden / Marion O’Dwyer
  12. Stacey Gregg / Conor MacNeill
  13. Sarah Hanly / Denise Gough
  14. Nancy Harris / Marty Rea
  15. David Ireland / Abigail McGibbon
  16. Colm Keegan / Owen Roe
  17. Sonya Kelly / Deirdre Donnelly
  18. Deirdre Kinahan / Bríd Ní Neachtain
  19. Emmet Kirwan / Emmet Kirwan featuring Mike Donnelly
  20. Darach Mac Con Iomaire / Eoin O Dubhghaill
  21. Manchán Magan / Bríd Criomhthain
  22. Aoife Martyn / Norma Sheahan
  23. Owen McCafferty / Patrick O’Kane
  24. Rosaleen McDonagh / Sorcha Fox
  25. Frank McGuinness / Joan Sheehy
  26. Meadhbh McHugh (New York) / Clare O’Malley
  27. Una McKevitt / Katherine Lynch
  28. Phillip McMahon / Caoilfhionn Dunne
  29. Andrea Molino (Italy) / David Moss
  30. Gina Moxley / Timmy Creed
  31. Jimmy Murphy / Clare Dunne
  32. Zoe Ní Riordáin / Seána Kerslake
  33. Edna O’Brien / Stanley Townsend
  34. Eva O’Connor / Amy McAllister
  35. Joseph O’Connor / Kathy Rose O’Brien
  36. John O’Donovan / Nicola Coughlan
  37. Mark O’Halloran / Andrew Bennett
  38. Jody O’Neill / Marie Mullen
  39. Shane O’Reilly / Amanda Coogan
  40. Felicia ‘Felispeaks’ Olusanya / Deirdre Molloy
  41. Margaret Perry / Breffni Holahan
  42. Ursula Rani Sarma / Owen McDonnell
  43. Arthur Riordan / Rory Nolan
  44. Ciara Elizabeth Smyth / Camille Lucy Ross
  45. Abbie Spallen / Jolene O’Hara
  46. Keith James Walker / Ashleigh Dorrell
  47. Enda Walsh / Zara Devlin
  48. Michael West / Mark Doherty
  49. Carmel Winters / Lucianne McEvoy
  50. Zhu Yi (China) / Julia Gu

Read more: ‘I was a voice’: 10 of the most beautiful lines from Eavan Boland’s poetry

Read more: Street artist Emmalene Blake’s Covid-19 murals are a breath of fresh air

Read more: “Actors are kind of like crap psychologists”: Irish actress Niamh Algar talks about her latest film

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