Abbey Theatre in the Irish Literary Renaissance Criticism: Artistic Vision And Significance - Essay

Peter Kavanagh (essay date 1950)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kavanagh, Peter. “A Poetic Theatre.” In The Story of the Abbey Theatre, pp. 81-90. New York: Devin-Adair Company, 1950.

[In the following essay, Kavanagh describes Yeats's interest in producing poetic works and the Catholic Church's suspicions of the Abbey's early plays.]

During the early years of the twentieth century the minds of the Irish people were occupied with problems of business and politics. They were thinking only of how they might get on in the world. In the evenings, the peasants would gather round their fires—not to tell stories of romantic Ireland but to listen to someone read The Freeman's Journal, which told them of the struggle...

(The entire section is 3556 words.)

Liam Miller (essay date October 1970)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Miller, Liam. “W. B. Yeats and Stage Design at the Abbey Theatre.” Malahat Review, no. 16 (October 1970): 50-64.

[In the following essay, Miller—a stage designer—discusses the “pioneering work in stage design” that occurred at the Abbey Theatre during the Irish Literary Renaissance.]

Among the earliest published works of W. B. Yeats are three dramatic poems, “Mosada,” privately printed for the poet's father in the 1880's with a frontispiece showing Yeats at the time, “The Island of Statues” and “The Seeker,” none of which had been attempted on the stage, when, on July 1, 1887, he wrote from London to Katharine Tynan:


(The entire section is 6216 words.)

James W. Flannery (essay date May 1972)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Flannery, James W. “W. B. Yeats and the Abbey Theatre Company.” Educational Theatre Journal 27, no. 2 (May 1972): 179-96.

[In the following essay, Flannery considers the political context in which the Abbey was established, focusing particularly on conflicts about the artistic vision the Abbey was to follow.]


From the very outset of his dramatic endeavors Yeats was determined to have his own theatre. After unsuccessful attempts to produce his plays in London during the 1890s and in Dublin with imported English professional actors at the Irish Literary Theatre (1899-1901), he set out to...

(The entire section is 10308 words.)

Hugh Hunt (essay date 1979)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hunt, Hugh. “The Free State Theatre, 1923-1932.” In The Abbey: Ireland's National Theatre, 1904-1979, pp. 119-44. Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan Ltd., 1979.

[In the following essay, Hunt—the director of the Abbey Theatre from 1935 to 1971—recounts the plays performed in the early years of the Irish Free State, which was formed in 1923 as a result of the Anglo-Irish War.]


Ireland in 1923 was not just a nation once again, it was a very different nation from the one about which the founders of the Abbey had written their plays. No longer a romantic anachronism perched on the fringes of western...

(The entire section is 9314 words.)

Ann Saddlemyer (essay date 1980)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Saddlemyer, Ann. “The ‘Dwarf-Dramas’ of the Early Abbey Theatre.” In Yeats, Sligo and Ireland: Essays to Mark the 21st Yeats International Summer School, edited by A. Norman Jeffares, pp. 197-215. Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom: Colin Smythe Ltd., 1980.

[In the following essay, Saddlemyer discusses contemporary artistic and political reactions to the poetic and peasant plays produced by the Abbey Theatre during the early years of the Irish Literary Renaissance.]

‘No one act play, no dwarf-drama, can be a knockdown argument’.

With these words James Joyce dismissed...

(The entire section is 7422 words.)

Adele M. Dalsimer (essay date 1981)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Dalsimer, Adele M. “Players in the Western World: The Abbey Theatre's American Tours.” Eire-Ireland: A Journal of Irish Studies 16, no. 1 (1981): 75-93.

[In the following historically-grounded essay, Dalsimer argues that the Abbey's American tours between 1911 and 1914 (at the height of the Irish Literary Renaissance) and between 1931-1938 consolidated the Abbey's international reputation but alarmed Irish nationalists, who feared that the Abbey's representation of Ireland and the Irish would adversely affect American support for Irish independence.]

Between 1911 and the outbreak of World War II, the Abbey Theatre made seven tours of the United States and...

(The entire section is 7152 words.)

Cara B. McClintock (essay date 2001)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: McClintock, Cara B. “‘It Will Be Very Difficult to Find a Definition’: Yeats, Language, and the Early Abbey Theatre.” In W. B. Yeats and Postcolonialism, edited by Deborah Fleming, pp. 205-19. West Cornwall, Conn.: Locust Hill Press, 2001.

[In the following essay, McClintock explores Yeats's changing attitudes toward the Irish language as a nationalist who insisted on “art over politics.” The author argues that Yeats's written dialogue attempts to capture the rhythm and sound of the Irish language in English, which both resolved and created certain difficulties for performers and their audiences.]

In her introduction to the correspondence of W. B....

(The entire section is 5980 words.)