Monday, April 25, 2011

Original Abbey Theatre Programme - 1903

Following on from the discovery of the Abbey Theatre playbills several weeks ago, we can now show you another wonderful item in much the same vein. This is a programme from October 1903, when the plays The King's Threshold by W.B. Yeats and In the Shadow of the Glen by J.M. Synge premiered. The actors featured included Sara Allgood, Seumas O'Sullivan and P.J. Kelly. They were performed along with Yeats' Kathleen Ní Houlihan in Molesworth Hall, Molesworth Street in Dublin by the Irish National Theatre Society. The Abbey Theatre opened the following year, when the Mechanics' Hall on Lower Abbey Street became available. The opening run would see two of the plays from this programme staged again, Kathleen Ní Houlihan and In the Shadow of the Glen.

In fact, this production probably played an instrumental part in the development of the Abbey. Annie Horniman, the patron of the Abbey who eventually purchased the building on Lower Abbey Street, came to Ireland in 1903 in part to design the costumes for The King's Threshold.

It's not known precisely how this programme came into the possession of the O'Malley family, but as Mary O'Malley had such a keen interest in Yeats' drama and in the Abbey Theatre we can presume she collected it  at some point in the course of her research.

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