Abbey Theatre School

The Abbey Theatre School or the Abbey School of Acting, was a drama school associated with the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Ireland. Established in 1911 by W. B. Yeats,[1]: 59  it was developed by Lady Gregory to continue performances in Dublin while the main cast of the theatre was overseas, usually in America.[2]

The school's first director was the theatre director Nugent Monck, whom Yeats asked to begin the school.[1]: 59  The first play performed by the school was The Countess Cathleen, written by Yeats.

The school was the primary place in Ireland where amateur actors could receive training for an acting career before breaking into paid work.[3] In the beginning, the school's plays were performed in the Abbey Theatre, but in 1927 the venue for them became the newly constructed Peacock Theatre, located on the first floor of the Abbey Theatre's building.[4]: 138 

Many well-known Irish actors and directors attended or taught at the school. Among them were Lennox Robinson,[5]: 513 [6]: 49  Stephen Rea,[7] and Frank Fay.[8]: 181 

There were gaps in the operation of the school, sometimes long ones, and according to Tomás MacAnna it was revived many times.[9]: 278, 284, 286  One brief period of activity was in the years 1967–1970, when Frank Dermody attempted to revive it, but it was closed after a number of complaints.[4]: 236 

One of the last actors to graduate from the school was Colm Meaney.[3]

Early productions featuring the Abbey School of ActingEdit

  • The Countess Cathleen W. B. Yeats. 14, 15, 16 December 1911[10]: 72 
  • The Annunciation by Anon. 4 January 1912[10]: 73 
  • Spreading the News by Lady Gregory. 8 February 1912[10]: 74 
  • The Land of Heart's Desire by W.B. Yeats. 22, 23, 24 February 1912[10]: 74 
  • The World and the Chylde by Anon. 29 February 1912[10]: 74 


  1. ^ a b Welch, Robert (2003). The Abbey Theatre, 1899–1999: Form and Pressure. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199261352. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  2. ^ "New School of Acting opens at the Abbey Theatre". National Library of Ireland Archives. RTE and Boston College. 21 February 1914. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Colm Meaney (Actor) Training Spotlight". The Irish Film & Television Network. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b Hunt, Hugh (1979). The Abbey, Ireland's National Theatre, 1904–1978. Columbia University Press. p. 138. ISBN 9780231049061. abbey school of acting.
  5. ^ Yeats, William Butler (2010). William O'Donnell, Douglas Archibald (ed.). Autobiographies: The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats. 3. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781451603033. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  6. ^ Lonergan, Patrick; O'Dwyer, Riana (2007). Echoes Down the Corridor. Peter Lang. ISBN 9781904505259. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  7. ^ Auld, Tim (25 March 2016). "Stephen Rea: 'I never wanted to be a polite actor'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  8. ^ Mikhail, E. H. (1988). The Abbey Theatre: Interviews and Recollections. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780389206163.
  9. ^ Chambers, Lilian (2001). Theatre Talk: Voices of Irish Theatre Practitioners. Peter Lang. ISBN 9780953425761. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d e Ritschel, Nelson O'Ceallaigh (2001). Productions of the Irish Theatre Movement, 1899–1916: A Checklist. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313317446. Retrieved 19 September 2015.

Coordinates: 53°20′55″N 6°15′26″W / 53.3486°N 6.2572°W / 53.3486; -6.2572