Penn Live Arts Blog

Artists lead a national conversation in the Abbey Theatre's Dear Ireland video series

Posted May 20, 2020

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The Abbey Theatre's Two Pints sold out the Blarney Stone last season.
Dublin’s historic Abbey Theatre is an Annenberg Center favorite that we have welcomed to our stages on multiple occasions. Most recently we presented the sold-out Philadelphia premiere of the Abbey’s hilarious Two Pints at our local pub, the Blarney Stone. Now, in spite of theatre closures and cancelled performances across the globe, the Abbey stands fast by its mission to tell the Irish story through art with its candid new video series, Dear Ireland.

The Abbey is widely recognized for its transformative artistry, creating works that are provocative and reflect many different facets of Irish society. Dear Ireland was created with the Irish theatre arts community in mind, employing 50 Irish playwrights to each write a monologue and then nominate an actor to video-record it at home in social isolation. According to Abbey directors Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, the project is as much for its audiences as it is for the participating artists who were impacted financially by the pandemic. The result is not just an entertainment piece, but a representation of the much-needed support for one another during such trying times.

Dear Ireland begins with the following questions: What do we want to be to one another? What do we want our society to look like? What are we not paying enough attention to? Where do we want to go next? What should Ireland write on a postcard to itself? As each monologue unfolds, we hear everything from personal frustrations and coping with loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic to heartfelt stories and feelings of hope for the future. We go on a rollercoaster of emotions that feels almost reminiscent of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). Perhaps most important, Dear Ireland reminds us that even though we are separated from our loved ones or facing new and unexpected difficulties, there are still ways to connect with one another and we are not alone in the way we feel.

Dear Ireland was first screened across four nights (April 28 to May 1) on the Abbey’s YouTube channel. All four parts, found below, can be streamed for free over the next six months. Please note that viewer discretion is advised due to strong language and content that some audiences might find challenging.