A Castle in the City

I had a fun little time scrolling around the maps this week and looking around the Abbey Theater. One of the first things that stood out to me about the theater, however, was its size. I know it was probably skewed, since everything online looks different in real life, but it looked a lot smaller and less grand than I envisioned in my head. Everything looked so tight and compact, and with everything I’ve been reading about the theater and how important it is, I guess I was envisioning some big, grand building that stood far above everything around it. It was also strange because it took me a while to orient myself on Thom’s 1904 map, because the theater wasn’t labeled, so I had to use other landmarks and the street names to figure it all out.

But despite all of this, it was actually pretty cool to realize that such a “non-grand” and “non-theatrical” looking theater holds such a prominent place in Dublin’s history and society. Even when looking inside the theater itself and reading about the portraits on the wall and looking at the stage and exploring the backstage, I was pretty blown away thinking about how much stuff went down in the theater, like the Playboy Riots, even though the modern building isn’t the original. It reminded me of that cheesy idiom that says “big things come in small packages.” Not that the Abbey Theater is particularly small, but I would say on the spectrum of grand theaters, it is definitely on the modest side (compare it to the Sydney Opera House…), and yet the cultural significance it holds makes it just as monumental as any castle or other such magnificent structure.

1 Comment

  1. I really like your comments on how the history of a place can make it seem larger than life even when it’s small and cramped. I feel like this atmosphere lends itself well to the setting of Juno and the Paycock, because the small stage would have to transition into the small tenement, and might have even necessitated the play’s setting in a singular room throughout. Perhaps, because the theatre wasn’t as grand or luxurious as some of the other well-known theatres worldwide, it had to improvise and makes its name, not in terms of appearances but in its content, actors, playwrights, and indeed its reputation in order to find its place (eventually) on the map! And because of its lack of grandiose trappings, it comes across as a bit more humble and focused on the theatrical side rather than the visual presentation.

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