Gate Theatre History

The Gate Theatre is an artist-led organisation producing original work of world-class excellence which inspires, challenges and entertains our audiences. We develop and support emerging and established artists with ambition, talent and skill to produce new work, alongside reinvigorating existing work from the Irish and international canon. The ethos and vision of the Gate demands that we fulfil our social and cultural purpose as an international home for Irish artists and an Irish home for international artists, creating a ‘world theatre’ that leads cultural conversation for artists and audiences in a progressive and inclusive dialogue. Equality and diversity are at the core of the Gate’s cultural values and we seek and deliver ‘best in class’ policies, shaping and leading new ways of thinking.

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.

During Dublin’s year as the European City of Culture in 1991, the Gate, in collaboration with RTÉ and Trinity College Dublin, mounted all nineteen of Samuel Beckett’s stage plays over three weeks; this Festival was later remounted in London and New York. This celebration of Beckett’s work was fitting as the Gate was the home for the Irish premiere of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in 1956, as well as an iconic revival of the play, directed by Walter Asmus, in 1988.

During the 1990s, the Gate presented exciting new plays, including the seminal The Steward of Christendom by Sebastian Barry (1995), and Conor McPherson’s The Weir (1996). Friel’s early play, Faith Healer, was revived in 2006 with Ralph Fiennes in the lead role; this production played to sold-out houses before touring to Broadway, where it was nominated for four Tony Awards (Ian McDiarmid won for Best Featured Actor).

During this 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 Cartmell Era

Selina Cartmell became Director/CEO of the Gate in April 2017. Prior to her appointment, she had directed three award-winning productions for the Gate: CatastropheFesten and Sweeney Todd, described in the Guardian as ‘a new dawn for the theatre’.

Cartmell’s inaugural season at the Gate opened with the immersive production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Her tenure saw a number of hugely successful productions including two sold out seasons of Roddy Doyle’s The Snapper, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, starring Ruth Negga, a production which transferred to St Ann’s Warehouse in New York.

Following the theatre’s closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the venue reopened with the world premiere of Phillip McMahon’s Once Before I Go, directed by Cartmell herself, plus a sold-out run of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, directed by Danya Taymor. Selina Cartmell stepped down from her role as Director/CEO on July 29th 2022.


The Next Chapter

Róisín McBrinn was appointed the new Artistic Director of the Gate in May 2022, having previously directed two hugely successful seasons of Roddy Doyle’s The Snapper at the Gate. She had previously been with Clean Break Theatre in London for more than seven years, four of which as Joint Artistic Director and Chief Executive. Prior to joining Clean Break in 2014, McBrinn spent two years as Associate Director of the Sherman Theatre, in Cardiff.

Colm O’Callaghan was appointed the new Executive Director of the Gate in May 2022. O’Callaghan was previously the Executive Director of Force Majeure, one of Australia’s most celebrated dance theatre companies. Prior to joining Force Majeure, O’Callaghan spent five years as Company Manager with Sydney Theatre Company. He also previously worked with Landmark Productions and Druid Theatre.