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Dublin Gate Theatre Archive, 1928 - 1979

 Collection
Identifier: AS3
Description of the Papers: The papers of the Dublin Gate Theatre under Edwards and MacLiammóir held in the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections consist of 384 boxes, 7 large art folders of drawings, and 69 original press cuttings books. The production scripts and notebooks, arranged by play title, account for 316 of these boxes, the music 17, photographs 5, lighting plots 3, plans 1. The costume, scenery and miscellaneous designs by MacLiammóir and others are in 7 oversize folders. The theatre correspondence and that of Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir from 1938 to 1970 are filed in 29 boxes; the manuscripts of Hilton Edwards are in 2 boxes and those of Micheál MacLiammóir in 10 boxes. The separation of the various components of a production reflects the order in whichthe Gate itself held them.

Productions: The 316 boxes of production materials comprise the major portion of the collection. The plays are arranged alphabetically by title and consist of annotated scripts, prompt and production copies, and the production notebooks of Hilton Edwards who produced and directed every play. The inventory lists all holdings for each play as well as dates of any known productions or revivals between 1928 and 1977.

Music: The music used by the Gate for productions form 1928-1970 is held in 17 boxes, arranged alphabetically by title of the production or composer.

Photographs: The production and publicity photographs are in 15 boxes, listed alphabetically by production title. The photographs are not all identified nor present for all productions. The dates of these run from 1928-1970 only.

Lighting Plots: The original lighting plots are arranged alphabetically in 3 boxes as held by the Gate. Though unsigned, they are nearly all by Hilton Edwards.

Design-Plan Books, Time Books: One box contains set designs, lists of scenery and ground plans for a limited number of Gate productions, largely undated. The notebook numbers are those used by the Gate. Set designs and ground plans which were loose have been placed in the production boxes where possible.

Costume and Miscellaneous Sketches: This group of diverse pencil and watercolor or tempera designs, mainly done by Micheál MacLiammóir between 1928 and 1977, has been arranged and described as clearly as possible. The sketches have been identified by production, author, and title where possible, with the size and medium noted.

Correspondence: The correspondence in the papers is in 29 boxes and has been divided into “general” theatre and business correspondence of 1938-1950 (1 box), 1953-1960 (9 boxes), 1961-1970 (4 boxes); Hilton Edwards’ correspondence of 1953-1970 (5 boxes); and Micheál MacLiammóir’s correspondence of 1952-1970 (9 boxes). It should be noted that the correspondence is arranged chronologically, and that the years covered, except for one early box, are only the years 1952 to 1970.

Manuscripts: Those of Hilton Edwards, contained in two boxes, include drafts and proofs of his two published books, The Mantle of Harlequin and Elephant in Flight, and many identified articles. The second box contains his articles and scripts of others during his position with Radio Éireann, 1961-1963. The manuscripts of Micheál MacLiammóir are held in 10 boxes, and are listed alphabetically by book or play title. His shorter “writings” are listed alphabetically as such, and dated where given. Correspondence on the “writings” is included here.

Press Cuttings: The press cuttings books nos. 1, 3-10, 12-66, are those of the Gate and numbered as held by them. Books 2 and 11 are missing. The inclusive dates are 2/10/1928 to 6/2/1971. Much valuable information can be gleaned from the fragile clippings.

Miscellany: The papers include two boxes of interesting miscellany about the past and present Gate Theatre.

Dates

  • 1928-1979

Conditions Governing Access

None.

Extent

384 Boxes

Overview

The Dublin Gate Theatre was founded by Hilton Edwards (1903-1982) and Micheál MacLiammóir (1899-1978), two Englishmen who had met touring in Ireland with Anew McMaster's acting company.

Biographical / Historical

The Dublin Gate Theatre was founded by Hilton Edwards (1903-1982) and Micheál MacLiammóir (1899-1978), two Englishmen who had met touring in Ireland with Anew McMaster's acting company. Edwards was a singer and established Shakespearian actor, and MacLiammóir, actually born Alfred Michael Willmore, had been a noted child actor, then a graphic artist, student of Gaelic, and enthusiast of Celtic culture. Taking their company’s name from Peter Godfrey’s Gate Theatre Studio in London, the young actors' goal was to produce and re-interpret world drama in Dublin, classic and contemporary, providing a new kind of theatre in addition to the established Abbey and its purely Irish plays.

Beginning in 1928 in the Peacock Theatre for two seasons, and then in the theatre of the eighteenth century Rotunda Buildings, the two founders, with Edwards as actor, producer and lighting expert, and MacLiammóir as star, costume and scenery designer, along with their supporting board of directors, gave Dublin, and other cities when touring, a long and eclectic list of plays. The Dublin Gate Theatre produced, with their imaginative and innovative style, over 400 different works from Sophocles, Shakespeare, Congreve, Chekhov, Ibsen, O’Neill, Wilde, Shaw, Yeats and many others. They also introduced plays from younger Irish playwrights such as Denis Johnston, Mary Manning, Maura Laverty, Brian Friel, Fr. Desmond Forristal and Micheál MacLiammóir himself.

Until his death early in 1978, the year of the Gate’s 50th Anniversary, MacLiammóir wrote, as well as acted and designed for the Gate, plays, revues and three one-man shows, and translated and adapted those of other authors. Both Edwards and MacLiammóir wrote about the theatre--Edwards as an art in The Mantle of Harlequin, and MacLiammóir autobiographically in books about the Gate, amusing experiences at home and abroad, and notable acting associations.

The careers of Peggy Cummins, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Orson Welles were launched at the Gate, and other famous actors, including Sarah Allgood, Sybil Thorndike, Siobhan McKenna, James Mason and Cyril Cusack played with the company during its long history.

Despite constant financial worries and lean years, when Edwards worked occasionally as an independent producer, and as the drama director for Radio Éireann, and MacLiammóir toured extensively with his one-man show about Wilde, The Importance of Being Oscar, the two friends carried on their joint venture. After MacLiammóir's death, Hilton Edwards was active in Dublin Gate Theatre Productions Inc. until his own death five years later. The Gate Theatre continues today under a different organization. It occupies a unique place in Dublin and in theatre history.

Arrangement

The Dublin Gate Theatre collection is arranged by the following categories:

Productions: The 316 boxes of production materials comprise the major portion of the collection. The plays are arranged alphabetically by title and consist of annotated scripts, prompt and production copies, and the production notebooks of Hilton Edwards who produced and directed every play. The inventory lists all holdings for each play as well as dates of any known productions or revivals between 1928 and 1977.

Music: The music used by the Gate for productions form 1928-1970 is held in 17 boxes, arranged alphabetically by title of the production or composer.

Photographs: The production and publicity photographs are in 15 boxes, listed alphabetically by production title. The photographs are not all identified nor present for all productions. The dates of these run from 1928-1970 only.

Lighting Plots: The original lighting plots are arranged alphabetically in 3 boxes as held by the Gate. Though unsigned, they are nearly all by Hilton Edwards.

Design-Plan Books, Time Books: One box contains set designs, lists of scenery and ground plans for a limited number of Gate productions, largely undated, arranged alphabetically by production. The notebook numbers are those used by the Gate. Set designs and ground plans which were loose have been placed in the production boxes where possible.

Costume and Miscellaneous Sketches: This group of diverse pencil and watercolor or tempera designs, mainly done by Micheál MacLiammóir between 1928 and 1977, has been arranged and described as clearly as possible. The sketches have been identified by production, author, and title where possible, with the size and medium noted.

Correspondence: The correspondence in the papers is in 29 boxes and has been divided into “general” theatre and business correspondence of 1938-1950 (1 box), 1953-1960 (9 boxes), 1961-1970 (4 boxes); Hilton Edwards’ correspondence of 1953-1970 (5 boxes); and Micheál MacLiammóir’s correspondence of 1952-1970 (9 boxes). It should be noted that the correspondence is arranged chronologically, and that the years covered, except for one early box, are only the years 1952 to 1970.

Manuscripts: Those of Hilton Edwards, contained in two boxes, include drafts and proofs of his two published books, The Mantle of Harlequin and Elephant in Flight, and many identified articles. The second box contains his articles and scripts of others during his position with Radio Éireann, 1961-1963. The manuscripts of Micheál MacLiammóir are held in 10 boxes, and are listed alphabetically by book or play title. His shorter “writings” are listed alphabetically as such, and dated where given. Correspondence on the “writings” is included here.

Press Cuttings: The press cuttings books nos. 1, 3-10, 12-66, are those of the Gate and numbered as held by them. Books 2 and 11 are missing. The inclusive dates are 2/10/1928 to 6/2/1971. Much valuable information can be gleaned from the fragile clippings.

Miscellany: The papers include two boxes of interesting miscellany about the past and present Gate Theatre.
Title
Guide to the Dublin Gate Theatre Archive, 1928 - 1979
Author
Ellen V. Howe
Date
October 1997, December 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US
847-491-3635