The general student population will have never heard of the Eblana Theatre, most likely due to its closure in 1995. Yet, it is a theatre which has been subtly present in Dublin life, and in many commuters’ lives ever since then. Located in the basement of Busáras, unused and derelict for over 20 years, the Eblana Theatre is set to return to life with Gavin Murphy’s ‘Double Movement’. Murphy’s exhibition will investigate and celebrate a theatre with a rich history, one that had a prominent role in the world of theatre in the 20th century.
The Eblana Theatre opened on the 17th of September 1959 for the very first Dublin Theatre Festival. The theatre was included in the Busáras building due to the original idea that it would be a multipurpose building. In fact, the theatre is small, with no wings, as it was intentionally built to be a cinema, but ended up as left luggage facility.
The person most credited with the success of this theatre is Phyllis Ryan. Phyllis, born in 1920, joined the Abbey Theatre Company at 14 years of age. After a successful career with the company, Phyllis decided to run an independent company. Along with Norman Rodway, they established the Gemini Productions. The Eblana Theatre became Gemini Production’s main house, and perhaps only for them, the Eblana Theatre became a well-known, respected theatre. Gemini productions worked with established playwrights, and debuted plays such as John B. Keane’s ‘Big Maggie’ and ‘The Field’, Eugene McCabe’s ‘King of the Castle’, and Mairead Ni Ghrada’s ‘An Trial’.
Dublin based artist and curator Gavin Murphy has researched the Eblana Theatre, and his exhibition has been created to reflect on theatre and the architectural histories in Ireland. Murphy combines his interests of assembling images, texts, and unique elements into sculptures with his interest in history and culture. His use of the theatre itself is bringing the Eblana into the present, as he puts into practice the energy of the space. This project is an exciting and immersive way to venture into the history of the theatre. Admission is free. Open until the 18th November.
Holly Lloyd – Art & Events Editor