The Launch

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on April 17, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

On Friday 15 April 2011, 7pm, the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr John Hegarty, launched the new digital reconstruction of the old Abbey Theatre, at a well-attended reception in the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College Dublin.

Trinity's Provost, Dr John Hegarty, speaks at the project launch

Trinity's Provost, Dr John Hegarty, speaks at the project launch

The reception was followed by S H I F T, a performance, before a capacity audience of around 180, by contemporary Irish video and sound artists, actors, and musicians all creating a live, improvisatory response to both the new digital model and the Playboy of the Western World riots of 1907.

Abbey Theatre, 1904 Project Launch at the Samuel Beckett Centre

Abbey Theatre, 1904 Project Launch at the Samuel Beckett Centre

Helping to swell numbers, an article by Marie Boran publicizing the project and its launch, “Abbey travels back in time: O’Casey era evoked in 3D”, had that morning appeared in the Irish Times Business supplement, and a 7-minute radio feature by Luke Clancy had also been broadcast on RTÉ Lyric FM’s Culture File earlier in the evening (listen; 3.28MB mp3 file). Brendan McCarthy’s stylish poster, with its distinctive “blueprint” design, had also appeared around the Trinity campus and at the National Library of Ireland.

Wireframe model of the old Abbey Theatre projected onto an external wall.

Wireframe model of the old Abbey Theatre projected onto an external wall.

New awnings had been erected for the occasion in the courtyard outside the Samuel Beckett Theatre, and a video by Niall Ó hOisín showing evocative images and animations of the project’s gradual evolution from archival documents to fully-rendered model, was projected onto an outdoor wall, becoming clearer as the evening progressed.

Along with wine and delicious finger food by Jaipur caterers, guests received a commemorative project postcard (below), as well as a colour programme for S H I F T, both designed by Noho’s Dara Smith (download S H I F T programme PDF, 6.95 MB).

Abbey Theatre, 1904 Project Commemorative Postcard

Abbey Theatre, 1904 Project Commemorative Postcard

Professor Steve Wilmer, Head of the School of Drama, Film and Music, welcomed guests to the reception, reminded them of the theatre production to follow, at 8pm, and the International Symposium on Irish Theatre history and historiography at the Samuel Beckett Centre over the following weekend, before introducing the Provost.

Prof. Steve Wilmer, Head of the School of Drama, Film and Music, introduces the Provost

Prof. Steve Wilmer, Head of the School of Drama, Film and Music, speaking at the launch.

Provost Hegarty spoke about how the Abbey Theatre, 1904 project and S H I F T both reflect the aspirations of Trinity’s Creative Arts, Technologies and Culture initiative: to encourage creativity and build relationships across disciplines, and between the College and cultural institutions such as the National Library of Ireland and the Abbey Theatre, as well as to contribute to the health of the local economy, as exemplified by the project’s partnership with Noho.

The Provost speaking at the project launch.

The Provost speaking at the project launch.

Hugh Denard spoke about how the many acts of generosity by people and organisations, very many of whom were also present at the event, had made the both the Abbey Theatre, 1904 project and S H I F T possible. He hoped that the digital reconstruction might inspire renewed efforts physically to reconstruct the old Abbey’s Vestibule, being particularly moved to see three generations of Daithi P. Hanly‘s family present at the launch. Lastly, he noted that the coming summer months will see further exciting developments, carried out through three new internships at Trinity and Noho, which will begin digitally to populate the old Abbey Theatre with performers and spectators.

Dr Hugh Denard, project director, speaks at the reception.

Dr Hugh Denard, project director, speaks at the reception.

The success of the launch and of S H I F T was the result of generous sponsorship by Trinity’s Long Room Hub, The Trinity Association and Trust, Trinity’s Creative Arts, Technologies and Culture Initiative, and The Trinity Foundation, as well as the unstinting support of Trinity’s School of Drama, Film and Music, the Samuel Beckett Theatre, the National Library of Ireland and the Abbey Theatre, the Chair of whose Board, Mr. Justice Bryan McMahon was also present at the launch.

 


The completed model

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on @ 12:56 pm

Here are images of the digital model, by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín / Noho (modelling), showing the old Abbey Theatre as it appeared on 27th December 1904.

View from Balcony of Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

View from the Balcony of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

We know that the theatre was painted, in 1904, by Marks Bros, Painting Contractors and Decorators of 13 South Anne Street, Dublin, and had carpets supplied by Millar & Beatty Ltd, Artistic House Furnishers of 14 Grafton Street and 56 Dawson Street. However, we haven’t yet been able definitively to discover the original colour-schemes used. For that reason we’ve chosen to render these images in the style of black-and-white photographs.

In the Balcony area, you can see the door through which patrons entered and, beside it, the circular copper-framed mirror from Youghal, which survived the fire of 1951 and is still in use in the Foyer of the new Abbey Theatre.

View from Pit of old Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model created by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

View from the 'Pit' of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

The theatre was refurbished to the designs of Joseph Holloway, friend of the Abbey Theatre Company, architect and diarist. Holloway used the existing structure of the auditorium and balcony, but he completely remoulded the proscenium arch, created a new entrance on Marlborough Street, introduced a substantially different seating arrangement, and changed every aspect of the décor, fixtures and fittings. The building work was carried out by R. & E. Farmer, Builders and Contractors of 22 Nottingham Street, North Strand

View of auditorium of Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

The auditorium of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

Patrons with seats in the Stalls – the most expensive seats – entered the theatre through the new Vestibule on Marlborough Street (where the entrance to the modern Abbey is situated today), and proceeded from there, down a steep staircase, to the double-doors seen to the left of the above image. The single door slightly to their right was the entrance to the ladies’ lavatory. Those seated in the Balcony – the next most costly tickets – also entered through the new Vestibule.

View of auditorium of Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

Aerial view of the auditorium of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

The programme for the opening night of the old Abbey Theatre, on 27 December 1904, records: “The Upholstering and Seating of this theatre has been done by James Hill, 10, 11 & 12 Bachelor’s Walk.” The image above shows the difference between the upholstered, tip-up seats in the ‘Stalls’ at the front of the auditorium, and the long wooden benches behind them (and separated from them by a metal railing), in the so-called ‘Pit’. Above them, audience-members in the Balcony were also seated on wooden benches, but with each seat individually demarcated by thin metal armrests.

View towards Balcony of Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

View towards the Balcony of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

After the performance, the Balcony audience exited, not through the Marlborough Street Vestibule through which they had entered, but through two double-doors to the rear of the Balcony onto Lower Abbey Street. The theatre was lit by electrical lighting, installed in 1904 by T. J. Sheehan, Electrical Engineer & Contractor of 68 Dame Street.

View from stage of Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

View from the stage of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

J. & C. McGloughlin, Ltd, Dublin, Art Metal Workers and Constructional Engineers, were responsible for the fireproof curtain, as well as the elegant external cast-iron and glass porch for the Vestibule on Marlborough Street and for the considerably plainer version, to Holloway’s design, for the ‘Pit’ entrance on Lower Abbey Street.

A Final Note
This model, which was officially launched by Trinity’s Provost, Dr John Hegarty, on 15th April 2011, could not have been produced without the generosity and imagination of numerous sponsors and supporters, to whom we are deeply indebted. As a result, we feel that the model truly ‘belongs’ to all who have supported its creation, as well as everyone who remembers or cares about the old Abbey Theatre.

For that reason, we invite everyone freely to distribute, reproduce and use these images, without fee or permission, asking only that, where possible, Hugh Denard and Noho be acknowledged as having created them. Print-quality versions are available by clicking on the above images, or you can download this PowerPoint presentation (Format: MS PowerPoint 1997-2003 (.ppt); File-size: 6.42 MB).

We would also love to hear from you if you’re using or re-publishing these images. In addition to the very considerable pleasure of seeing others enjoy the model, evidence of its value and interest to a wider audience will also help us to find support for research on other areas, and phases, of the theatre.


In the press…

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on April 15, 2011 @ 9:14 am

An article on the project appears in the Technology pages of today’s Irish Times:

Abbey travels back in time: O’Casey era evoked in 3D” by Marie Boran, Irish Times, 15th April 2011.

Together with Breffni’s post to noho’s blog yesterday, these are the first public images of the newly completed model!

Here are the articles:

Abbey travels back in time: O’Casey era evoked in 3D. Irish Times 15 April 2011

Abbey travels back in time: O’Casey era evoked in 3D. Irish Times 15 April 2011

Old Abbey Theatre gets a new life, Noho Blog, 14 April 2011

Old Abbey Theatre gets a new life, Noho Blog, 14 April 2011


Day 4 of Modelling

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on April 12, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

Niall has created a new video showing the model of the theatre growing ever closer to completion.

The completed model will be seen for the first time at the project launch on 15th April at the Samuel Beckett Theatre.


Preparing for the Project Launch

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on @ 4:35 pm

The project launch, at the Samuel Beckett Theatre on Friday 15th April 2011, at 7pm, ought to be a good event. The VIP invitations are being RSVP’d with some enthusiasm, and I’m delighted to see so many of the people who have so generously and imaginatively contributed their knowledge, skills or time to the project signing up.

Poster for the project launch and S H I F T production at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, TCD, from 7pm on 15th April 2011

The poster, by Brendan McCarthy, looks pretty snazzy: it takes a wireframe image of the model, and gives it the colour-scheme of an architectural blueprint. The fonts give it an additional modern/digital feel.

There’ll be wine and nibbles at the reception on 15th, a few words by the Provost, Dr John Hegarty, and then some more from me, before the performance, S H I F T, takes place at 8pm.

I haven’t blogged much about S H I F T here, in order to keep the focus of this site on the reconstruction of the theatre, but it’s shaping up to be a really exciting event, involving live music, performance, and video art with highly imaginative sound and lighting and set design. Director, Dan Bergin, has done fantastic work devising and scripting the performance, so that, like the Playboy riots of 1907, it combines both scripted and improvised elements, for performers and spectators alike.

A certain amount of media attention, too: Niall from NOHO and I did an interview with Lyric FM yesterday morning, and we’re hoping to have a feature in this Friday’s Technology pages in the Irish Times. Caoimhe Ní Lochlainn and Sharon Campbell in Trinity’s Communications Office have been brilliant, getting the word out to the press, and onto Trinity’s website and mailing lists.

Catering’s booked. Just some last minute “details” now remaining about technical aspects of the launch, oh yes, and programme notes to write. I look forward to seeing whoever is able to make it on Friday!




image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace