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Gate Theatre History

Where it all started

The Gate Theatre was founded in 1928 by Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir. During their first season, they presented seven plays, including Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape and Wilde’s Salomé. Their productions were innovative and experimental and they offered
Dublin audiences an introduction to the world of European and American theatre as well as classics from the modern and Irish repertoire. It was at the Gate that Orson Welles, James Mason, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Michael Gambon began their prodigious acting careers. The company
played for two seasons at the Peacock Theatre and then on Christmas Eve 1929, in Groome’s Hotel, the lease was signed for the 18th Century Rotunda Annex – the ‘Upper Concert Hall’, the Gate’s present home, with Goethe’s Faust opening on 17th February 1930.

Lord & Lady Longford

In 1931 the newly established Gate Theatre ran into financial difficulties and Lord (Edward) and Lady(Christine) Longford provided financial support. The Longfords worked with Edwards and MacLiammóir at the Gate until 1936, then a split developed and two separate companies were formed and played at the Gate for six months each and also toured for six months until the death of Lord Longford in 1961.

During this period Edwards and MacLiammóir (Gate Theatre Productions) ran shows in Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre and toured productions to Europe, Egypt and North America.

1980’s – 2000’s

In 1983, Michael Colgan became Director of the Gate and during his 33 year reign he produced many high quality award-winning plays. Many of these have been seen throughout the world from Beijing to New York. Under his stewardship, the Gate established unique relationships with leading contemporary playwrights including Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Brian Friel.

He produced the first ever Beckett Festival, presenting all 19 of the stage plays over three weeks. He also produced the first ever festival of Pinter’s plays and many premieres and productions of Friel’s work including the acclaimed production of Faith Healer with Ralph Fiennes which won a Tony Award on Broadway. During his time, with the generous support of funders, the fabric of the building was restored and renovated under the guidance of Ronnie Tallon and Scott, Tallon Walker Architects. This included the provision of a new wing, which incorporates a space – The Gate Studio – to be used for rehearsals, workshops, offering practitioners an opportunity to develop and nurture creativity.

The Next Chapter

On 3rd April 2017, Selina Cartmell became Director of the Gate. As a freelance artist, she has directed a diverse range of work from Greek tragedy and Shakespeare, to international work and contemporary Irish drama. In 2004, she established Dublin based Siren Productions, a multi-award winning company conceived to innovate the classics and create relevant and dynamic new work, integrating theatre, dance, visual arts, architecture, film and music.

Her productions have been nominated for thirty five theatre awards, winning ten, including three for best director. She directed three award-winning productions for the Gate Catastrophe, Festen and Sweeney Todd, described in the Guardian as ‘a new dawn for the theatre’. Her inaugural season at the Gate opened on 12th July, 2017 with the immersive production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.