By: Viviana Lletget (Visiting Student, Study Abroad Blogger)
In Dublin there is so much to do involving art, music, and street performance, but no matter how long you are visiting Dublin, I suggest going to the Abbey Theater. The Abbey Theater today is not the same original one that was founded in 1904 by the Irish writer W.B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory, but the reconstructed Abbey is still spectacular and carries on the Irish Literary Theater culture in full force on the same site. The historical Abbey Theater was damaged by a fire that took place in 1951, so the Abbey Theater that exists today is an updated version that still reflects an old feel of history. The Abbey Theater was a venue where Irish writers showcased plays that became an essential aspect, a medium, that helped the Irish Literary Revival take place; it was the place where physical manifestations unfolded through performances that gave the Irish and Irishness new form from political and surrealist theater performances. The Abbey Theater is a must to visit while you are in Dublin because the plays are always wonderful, and offer a window into Irish culture.
This year marked the centennial anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, and so the Abbey Theater showcased Sean O’Casey’s play The Plough and the Stars. Since I am taking a class at Trinity about Irish Writing I thought it was a good idea to check out the famous play about 1916 in Dublin, Ireland. The Plough and the Stars at the Abbey Theater was done with a more contemporary setting although still maintained the original essence that O’Casey intended to display. The play criticizes the actions within the 1916 Easter Rising and questions whether war is really necessary. The play begs the question: there is already so much suffering in the world, so why do we continue to cause trauma through bloodshed and loss of life? Because to O’Casey, war did not make any sense, since it did not solve issues within society like worker’s rights. Though the play critiqued the contemporary politics of its time, it was spectacularly funny. The language used within The Plough and the Stars offers a glimpse of how life was expressed by Dubliners in the early 20th century within tenement life. The tones of voices, choices of words, and emotive expressions make you feel like you are there in Dublin in 1916.
I feel so proud to have attended a play at the Abbey Theater because to me, involving yourself in different art forms is a wonderful way to get to know the culture of the country you are visiting. The Abbey Theater was an asset to those participating in the Irish Literary Revival because the theater was the space in which the magic of what happens on stage is shared with the audience. Messages with political content, like The Plough and the Stars, were performed at the Abbey Theater for the public to offer different opinions from local Irish artists. The Abbey Theater is very much embedded in Dublin’s history. Moreover, one of my favorite things about the Abbey is its actual floor layout. There is not a bad seat in the Abbey Theater, so it does not matter if you are in the front, or the way back, the stage and seat layout is great in the quaint theater. The Abbey Theater gives off an intimate vibe, and the atmosphere is always very warm. I highly recommend catching any theater show that is playing at the Abbey Theater while you are in Dublin. You will not regret it!