Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

My choice for placing a new Abbey Theatre

Same site on Abbey Street
36
14%
GPO, O'Connell Street
60
23%
Carlton Cinema, O'Connell Street
94
36%
George's Dock, Docklands
16
6%
Site of Hawkins House
46
18%
Other
8
3%
 
Total votes : 260

Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Michael J. O'Brien » Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:15 am

Just reading details of the new programme for government on the RTE website and it confirms the Abbey will not be moving to the duck pond but instead now will be moving to the GPO complex.

O'Connell St is the right location for this building but I'd prefer a state of the art building on the Carlton Cinema site.

With the public finances in their current state I guess the move even to the GPO could take decades.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Global Citizen » Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:58 am

Here we go again.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby pdosullivan » Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:56 pm

On paper I think it's a great plan, the GPO has excellent access to public transport (they recently even managed to integrate the bus and Luas outside it!!!) and isn't practical in its current use anymore. I think it's the right place for the Abbey. I just hope the redevelopment is done sensibly.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby PaulC » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:34 am

While I think the GPO would be a wonderful location for the Abbey Theatre, I don't really understand how it can be accomodated there. Surely It would mean knocking down large parts of the interior. This would be a travesty for such a lovely building.
Is there anyone more familiar with the proposal who may be able to shed some light?
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby notjim » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:38 am

You know I think the GPO is a wonderful location for the GPO.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Satrastar » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:42 am

So will the building no longer be known as the GPO? How on earth will they fit it into that?

I think this is a bad idea.

Wouldn't it be great if a newly designed Abbey theatre replaced Hawkins House?

They could design it from scratch, and there would be no compromises.

We could have a new iconic building for Dublin, and It would help to bring life back to Hawkins Street.

What's going to happen the old Abbey now? And I heard in the Irish Times that the facade of the original Abbey is still extant, albeit in pieces in somebody's possession in Killiney. Surely this should be salvaged?
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby cgcsb » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:30 pm

Isn't the GPO supposed to be a museum dedicated to the rising? I much perfered that Idea, they could even have a tacky gift shop in it. Which party's program for govt.?
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Global Citizen » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:59 pm

Satrastar wrote:So will the building no longer be known as the GPO? How on earth will they fit it into that?

I think this is a bad idea.

Wouldn't it be great if a newly designed Abbey theatre replaced Hawkins House?

They could design it from scratch, and there would be no compromises.

We could have a new iconic building for Dublin, and It would help to bring life back to Hawkins Street.

What's going to happen the old Abbey now? And I heard in the Irish Times that the facade of the original Abbey is still extant, albeit in pieces in somebody's possession in Killiney. Surely this should be salvaged?


While draining life out of Abbey street.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby dc3 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:55 am

The GPO complex was designed (and often redesigned in the back office areas) as a post office, but with really extensive office accomodation, this generally unknown to the public, sweeping down Princes St and Henry Street. Some bits of this, the former savings bank processing area, are impressive in their own right and all have been maintained in good condition.

However, turning this into a theatre, or two theatres, as perhaps the Peacock would move too, is just as easy as turning the Royal Hospital into a theatre complex, - actually harder than that as that complex has some large spaces.

So this plan implies gutting an existing, well regarded and listed building, and adapting it as the facade of a new facility, for which we have no money, using for a purpose completely alien to its original purpose, for which it has no advantage whatever, except a central location. (A central location not being enought to save the Metropole Cinema next door, or the Capitol Theatre in Princes Street, both knocked down for shopping in living memory, or to bring to meaningful use the Carlton Cinema, now closed for fifteen years further up the street, intended to become shopping!)

You could not make it up.

Ironically the GPO building in Cork used to be a Theatre!
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby tommyt » Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:06 pm

The abbey relocation shenanigans will run and run. I heard a rumour that the set builders (a fine and irreplacable craft occupation) are being made redundant and their work outsourced, most likely to the UK. I would presume that would save a lot of space and allow the Abbey to move into an adapted use building. The opportunities for a bold new build still exist in D1 with the right backing and backbone. I dunno where this is coming from as a Green Party prerequisite for govt?. All a bit odd. It is better than sticking it in George's Dock though.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby aj » Mon Oct 12, 2009 3:50 pm

O'Connell Street is a great location for the Abbey however the GPO as the location is madness?. Whats the obsession with having the GPO as anything other than the GPO.

Given that its one of the few monumental buildings used for its original purpose and therefore open to the public why turn it into a building which will be locked and dead for a large part of the day???

Surely the Carlton would have been the perfect site????
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby ac1976 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 4:39 pm

Join the facebook group supporting the move to the GPO is you are for it
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=166497406960
I think it's a great idea.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby spoil_sport » Mon Oct 12, 2009 5:40 pm

The Abbey Theatre and the GPO....
Its like one of those movie trailers where they put two big name stars together to draw the crowds, but will ultimately suffers from a bad script, and poor direction, and while it looked so good on paper, you wil realise after that the only attraction was the two big names and the whole thing is a massive let down.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Satrastar » Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:10 pm

Global Citizen wrote:While draining life out of Abbey street.



Is relocation or reconstruction on Abbey Street even on the table?
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Global Citizen » Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:18 am

Satrastar wrote:Is relocation or reconstruction on Abbey Street even on the table?


It appears not. Unfortunately.

Abbey Street (the main east / west axis in the north city centre) has seen a steady decline in recent years despite the presence of the Luas. It is a particularly depressing void at night and very badly lit.

Compare this to the bustling Dame Street (e / w axis) south of the river.

Your suggestion for Hawkins Street is worthy, but not for The Abbey.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby missarchi » Tue Oct 13, 2009 1:42 am

I don't know the building well enough but you would assume they would delete the red bit if needed... how many floor levels are in the yellow area to the right? I think Dublin has more important things to think about than theatres, national conference centres that will get used once a blue moon or a theatre 4 nights a week compared to some other structures that will be used 19 hours a day 7 days a week. But you would imagine a design where by the internal court yard external wall becomes the internal wall of the lobby area...
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Global Citizen » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:32 am

Liveline (I know) with Joe Duffy will be discussing this topic in an hour.

Might be worth a listen.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Peter Fitz » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:54 am

cue hysterical / non factual 'contributions' from 'irate' listeners.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Frank Taylor » Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:45 pm

Why not set the abbey free from the leash of state funding? 8 million quid a year for a bunch of rubbish plays paid for by the plebs from their vat receipts.

We have the gate and the olympia and the gaiety and the project, the helix and soon the exciting grand canal dock theatre. That's plenty. Struggling young playwrights don't need mega theatres they need small venues. I don't know how many supposedly worthy but lifeless performances I've seen in the Abbey. Much better hit rate in the Gate up the road.

The building itself is a crime against aesthetics: mental hospital style windowless brick walls. The interior looks copied from some semi-state headquarters, with an endless budget for soft fabrics. It's horrendously corporate and somnorific.

State funded art is a fascist idea. Art is counter authoritarian, rebellious and doesn't need financing. How much money do you need to write a play? pen, paper, dole - off you go.

Converting the GPO would cost zillions and achieve nothing apart from confuse people looking to buy stamps and post letters.

What you could do is pack off all the lifers in the offices out the back to a more suitable location like Citywest.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:03 pm

I actually believe that the Abbey shouldnt have a permanent home - it should be migrating around the country with its performances - a base here is all it needs, with occassional performances in an existing Dublin venue
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Frank Taylor » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:11 pm

agree

Old Abbey theatre that I guess is now gone.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby GrahamH » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:54 pm

That’s certainly an argument, but one must also factor in the clout an established national theatre like the Abbey has in acting as a draw to Dublin on an international level. Okay, the typical audience is largely populated by greying sweet suckers, but the impact of a high profile national theatre established in the capital surely must make a significant contribution to the attractiveness of Dublin as a destination. Not that I’m arguing for more planning-by-tourist, but the perceived folly that the Abbey may be must be considered in the wider context of its role as one of a cluster of cultural attractions. An iconic theatre building – and I mean iconic in a memorable sense – expresses much more about a city than merely what goes on inside. As such, the concept of a fixed theatre - by all accounts with a travelling element - still has its purpose. The other thing to bear in mind is that any new facility could serve as an acting and performance centre on a much wider level than just trotting out Beckett every six months.

As for the GPO as the Abbey, the idea has its merits, but as we come back to time and time again, ultimately it is too flawed to warrant consideration. Fundamentally, the GPO was built as a post office, has survived as such for almost two centuries, and is the only major Georgian public building left in Dublin that retains its original function. It continues to serve citizens well, even if the status once attached to a postal service, and by association a building as significant as the GPO, has diminished to that of a chain store since its inception. It performs a useful civic duty, grants universal public access, and therefore should remain as is. The last thing we need is the postal element relegated to a minor corner, and happy clappy, oh-but-they’re-not-permanent, vulgar coloured banners suspended between the columns. Also, I personally find new uses in major public buildings distinctly off-putting when visiting other European cities: where what once was a palace is now an opera house, or a major bank or church is now a heritage centre or art gallery. Of course new uses have to be found for these buildings, but where that distortion of legibility can be avoided, especially with the most significant of structures such as the GPO, it should be. To move the Abbey to O’Connell Street undermines the civic dignity of a structure such as the GPO, while also banishing any chance of a major public building being built in the city centre for perhaps another century.

I am getting somewhat concerned, having heard of a number of other proposals sloshing around, that the GPO is now being viewed, in 1930s style, as the only game in town. Literally every public and civic project going is now looking to house itself in or leech itself onto the GPO redevelopment, desperate for a slice of the cake. I fear we risk compromising not only the GPO as a major historic site, but also each of the proposals looking to piggy back off it in their desperate hope of being realised within the next decade. It’s like the post-war restoration of Dublin Castle, Busáras, or indeed the GPO itself in the 1920s, all over again, where everything short of the kitchen sink is thrown into the mix to maximise the net gain to the State in cancelling out other projects with the stroke of a pen. We need the GPO and its courtyard to have a clearly defined clarity of function, by all accounts encompassing a number of uses, but not those that would be better served – such as the Abbey – elsewhere.

Without question the Hawkins House site is the most perfect location for the Abbey Theatre on a host of levels: across the water from the existing site, a state-owned site, right in the heart of the city, an incredible regenerative potential for this part of the city, a new ceremonial axis between the theatre and former House of Lords, a new civic plaza at this major multiple street junction, erecting a public building in the spirit and midst of the adjacent legacy of the Wide Streets Commission, the fabulous orientation and dynamics of the site... The list is endless. I wish somebody would have the vision to realise this, instead of the lazy, fawning vote-getter that the GPO proposal is.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Global Citizen » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:51 pm

Global Citizen wrote:Liveline (I know) with Joe Duffy will be discussing this topic in an hour.

Might be worth a listen.


Apologies.

During the promo for the programme nobody said Mary O' Rourke would hog it all.

And she did.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby gunter » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:25 pm

GrahamH wrote:. . . . Okay, the typical audience is largely populated by greying sweet suckers. . . . .


I can see the logistical logic of sticking the Abbey in the GPO, . . . . giving people the opportunity to attend the theatre and cash one's pension cheque in the same building, you have to say they have thought this through.

Either way, I don't agree with Paul that closing down these senior centres is the solution. What right have we to say that it is wrong, or too costly, for citizens in their autumn years to get pearled up and congregate for a few hours where it's warm and comfortable and where they can be for a time with their own kind.

I wouldn't get too worked up about the actual productions either, O'Casey, Beckett, whatever, . . . . the show, either side of the interval, has always been incidental to the theatre experience. As Graham says, the real contribution of theatre to society has always been the occassional decent building and that's what we should hold out for, wherever the theatre ends up being located. In this regard, the GPO is already a decent building so we gain nothing by sticking the Abbey into it.

Leaving the prospect of gaining a decent new building aside for the moment, and whatever is the true depth of our financial predicament, it would be wrong for the state to abandon the Abbey and wrong for the state to abandon it's senior generations of middle class lefties and hand theatre over to a class of youth that are only there because they'd get the s/*t kicked out of them on a football pitch, or to the permanently experimental, or to the just plain mental.

There are some things you just don't mess with.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby missarchi » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:03 am

What ever happens the postal function should remain in the GPO in some grand form...
Or new Kildare st? you could just walk right in...

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/1015/1224256681742.html

it seems there is wave of proposals competing for various dates!
innovate Dublin? or small houses? There should be an exhibition of all these ideas!

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2009/1015/1224256692317.html
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