Tag Archives: smock alley theatre

Old & New

Two for one is always good value, and the recent evening that I went to the Smock Alley Theatre was certainly that. The theatre was one of three built in 1662, two years after the Restoration of King Charles II. The others, in London, no longer exist, and Smock Alley became the first Theatre Royal in Ireland.

 

Smock Alley Theatre

Smock Alley Theatre

 

Over the years it showcased the works of Oliver Goldsmith (She Stoops To Conquer) and Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals and School for Scandal, plays that are still part of the contemporary programme. Also, it was here that the greatest actor of the 18th century, David Garrick, first played Hamlet. It operated until the late 1780s when rivalry from newer theatres caused it to close down. It was used as a whiskey store for a number of years before being opened as a church in 1811. When the bell was rung it was the first Catholic bell heard in Dublin in almost 300 hundred years.

The church closed in 2002 and a full archaeological excavation was undertaken in 2009 that revealed part of the original foundations. The newly renovated theatre opened in May 2012 and it has become a popular and busy part of the city’s cultural life.

On the night I visited, John Connolly, the international best-selling author, was launching his new book The Wolf in Winter and being interviewed about his work by Tony Clayton-Lea (Irish Times). The Main Theatre was packed as he talked about his inspiration and the hard work required to ‘get the job done’. It was very interesting and food for thought for all the budding writers in attendance. Afterwards, we crossed the street to the Gutter Bookshop where a long queue of fans chatted as they waited to get their books signed. It was a very enjoyable evening, and although more than three centuries have passed since Smock Alley opened its doors it is still a vibrant part of Dublin’s artistic scene.

John Connolly

John Connolly (left) in interview

 

 

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Dublin Book Festival

Hi there,

I attended a couple of events at the recent Dublin Book Festival in the Smock Alley Theatre and both were well attended and very interesting. The festival, which ran for six days, has been a great success (according to busy staff! ) with writers from home and abroad involved in readings and interviews. The friendly, casual atmosphere was also a great opportunity to speak with authors and get books signed. I managed to speak with John Givens (one of the authors reading his work in ‘A Medley of Stories’) about his story set in Japan and he was very approachable and happy to talk.

Smock1

Bookshelf

The reading was held in the Banquet Hall which is a beautiful space that has been renovated to its former glory. The old building is celebrating its 350th anniversary and the bright, winter sun really brought the tall, stained-glass windows to life. If you are in town then a visit to see Ireland’s first great theatre is a rewarding experience. Put it on your list of ‘things to do’ in Dublin.

For a short story writer like myself, the interview conducted by Eithne Shortall (Chief Arts Writer for the Sunday Times Ireland) with three of its leading exponents was very informative and entertaining. This was held in the main theatre, which with its bench seating (and soft cushions, thankfully!) and fine acoustics, was how I hoped it might be – and it didn’t disappoint. It was a lively discussion with plenty of light moments and I came away with some interesting ideas – food for thought.

The Festival is a great part of the cultural life of the city, and as book festivals go they definitely ‘got it right’ and long may it grow and prosper.

Smock Alley

Definitely in Smock Alley Theatre!

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