The Gate Theatre has been, artistically and architecturally, a landmark building for over 250 years. The present performance space was once part of the Rotunda Hospital; because it was a charitable institution, the hospital had several public function rooms in which fundraising activities were held. The large rotunda after which the hospital is now named is in fact now a part of the Gate Theatre.
Established as a theatre company in 1928 by Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir, the Gate offered Dublin audiences an introduction to the world of European and American theatre and also to classics from the modern and Irish repertoire. The Theatre has a capacity of 371 people.
Edwards/McLiammoir Productions presented European plays in sharp contrast to the country kitchen fare available at the Abbey Theatre bringing the Irish Premieres of Ibsen and other such dramatists to the Irish public. This mission statement is still in effect today.
Today, in its 84th year, the Gate has become unique in that it has had only two artistic directorates. In 1983, the directorship passed to Michael Colgan under whose guidance the theatre continues to represent Ireland at the very highest level of artistic endeavour, receiving numerous invitations each year to major festivals on every continent.
In 1991, the Gate became the first theatre in the world to present a full retrospective of the nineteen stage plays of Samuel Beckett. This festival was repeated at New York’s Lincoln Center Festival and at the Barbican Centre in London. The Gate also played a major role in the Beckett Centenary Festival, in partnership with Dublin’s leading cultural and academic institutions under the auspices of the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. In 2007, the Gate toured a critically acclaimed season, entitled GATE | BECKETT, to the Sydney Festival and, the following year, toured it to Lincoln Center Festival in New York, starring Ralph Fiennes, Barry McGovern and Liam Neeson. In 2008, the Gate completed an historic tour with its landmark production of Waiting for Godot which sold out 40 venues throughout the country in the first ever all-Ireland 32 county tour.
The Gate had a close association with Harold Pinter, having presented four major festivals of his work. The first two festivals were at the Gate in 1994 and 1997, and featured the involvement of the author as both actor and director. In 2001, as a 70th birthday celebration, Michael Colgan curated a festival at Lincoln Center, New York, featuring productions by the Gate, the Almeida and the Royal Court. Then, in 2005, the Gate celebrated Pinter’s 75th birthday by producing Old Times and Betrayal and, in 2008, produced an acclaimed production of No Man’s Land, starring Michael Gambon and Nick Dunning which transferred to London’s West End receiving three Olivier Award nominations.
The Gate has a long and rich association with Brian Friel, premiering many of his plays over the past forty-five years, most recently his version of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and The Home Place, which subsequently toured to the West End. In 2006, Faith Healer, starring Ralph Fiennes, played to capacity houses at the Gate and later transferred to Broadway, where the production received four Tony Award nominations and the award for Best Featured Performance. In 2009, the Gate celebrated the playwright’s 80th birthday with a critically acclaimed season of his works, entitled GATE | FRIEL, at the Sydney Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival, where it received the prestigious Herald Angel Award, and in Dublin.
In addition to its artistic programme, the theatre has undergone a continuous process of renovation and upgrading to ensure the preservation of the eighteenth-century building. In recent years a major fundraising campaign was undertaken for the provision of a new wing, which is now home to the Gate Lab. Used primarily for workshops, research and the general promotion of theatrical talent, the Gate Lab offers theatre practitioners a private space to develop and nurture creativity.
- Gate Theatre Web site
- Richard Pine: The Dublin Gate Theatre 1928-1978 (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1984)