The Dublin Gate Theatre Studio was founded by Hilton Edwards and Mícheál Mac Liammoir in 1928 with a showing of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt at the Peacock Theatre and moved to its present home, part of the Georgian era Rotunda Hospital complex, opening with Goethe’s Faust in 1930.
A common thread (pun intended) in all the work I do is the disconnect between a final, polished product that the public sees, and the work that goes into creating that illusion and the places in which that work is done. ‘Behind the scenes’ can be a pretty ramshackle place.
The Gate is no exception: While the public areas are very elegant and the new extension is swoon inducingly lovely, other parts of the theatre are exhausted. But this is where the ghosts live and everyday treasures are created or unearthed.
I once found a small mirror in the back of a cupboard in a disused convent. It was rectangular, with a thin gold coloured frame and it still had a Woolworth’s price tag on the back. I can barely remember the film I was working on, but I remember wondering who had owned and hidden the mirror. Was she pretty? Did she miss that part of her life, a time when her vanity seemed natural, not a sin?
The Gate, like most theatres, has its ghosts. Apparently there’s one called The Grey Lady who is a benevolent presence, although I’d still rather not meet her.
Other ghosts take more tangible form in the corridor that leads from Wardrobe to a fire escape that overlooks one of the Rotunda Hospital car parks.
Many of these posters haven’t been archived. These are the originals and the only copies. To try to remove them would damage them, to leave them where they are is damaging them. If you look closely you can see that they’ve been painted around or as below, have had electrical work superimposed.
There are plans to reproduce them however and hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later.
While the transience of live performance can seem terribly romantic the memory of these productions is worth preserving, however imperfectly.
Credits: Photo 1 from Scott Tallon Walker Architects
Photo 2 from DublinTown.ie
Photo 3 from Ian Grundy‘s Flickr Photostream. (Many thanks Ian)
All other photos by me.