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Abbeyonehundred exhibition at IMMA

DUBLIN, IRELAND.- A new exhibition focusing on set and costume design at the Abbey Theatre opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Thursday 9 December. Scene Change: One Hundred Years of Theatre Design at the Abbey Theatre, which is being shown as part of Abbeyonehundred, explores the creative role of the designer. The exhibition has been selected from the National Theatre Archives by Mairead Delaney, Archivist with the National Theatre Archives, and the leading stage designer Joe Vanĕk, who is also co-curator of the show with Helen O’Donoghue, Head of Education and Community Programmes at IMMA. The exhibition will be officially opened at 6.00pm on Wednesday 8 December by the distinguished Irish artist and theatre designer Robert Ballagh.

Scene Change presents key visual material of signature work by designers for recent productions, alongside earlier Abbey and Peacock designs. These include model boxes from several Abbeyonehundred productions, such as Francis O’Connor’s design for The Shaughraun and Guido Tondino’s for The Playboy of the Western World. Earlier work by prominent designers, including Carl Fillion (The Burial at Thebes), Joe Vaněk (Dancing at Lughnasa) and Monica Frawley (By the Bog of Cats), is also being shown. The work of such noted costume designers as Joan O’Clery, Wendy Shea and Browen Casson is being presented alongside early designs by Dorothy Travers-Smith, Norah McGuinness and Charles Ricketts.

The exhibition offers visitors an opportunity to see designs by artists engaged by W B Yeats, shortly after the foundation of the Abbey, through the transitions in style and fashion throughout the century to the innovative and individual style of contemporary designers. Many designers have lent drawings, production notebooks and sketches to the show, providing a fascinating glimpse of the processes behind what we see on stage.

Scene Change is part of a strand of programming at IMMA that explores contemporary visual culture, revealing the interplay between the fine and applied arts. Previous exhibitions have looked at designs for flexible living in Living in Motion (2003), illustration and graphic design in Brian Cronin (1998) and the work of the celebrated Irish milliner in Philip Tracey (2001). This is the first time the Museum has focused on stage design.

The exhibition also marks the very productive relations which have existed over several years between the Abbey’s Outreach/Education Department and IMMA’s Education and Community Department. Commenting on this Helen O’ Donoghue, Head of Education and Community Programmes, IMMA said, “Scene Change offers a new and very welcome opportunity to explore with second and third level students the intersections between our two institutions and the theatre and visual arts”.

On Wednesday 8 December at 5.00pm Joe Vanĕk and Mairead Delaney will give a talk in the exhibition space on the evolution of theatre design in relation to the Abbey’s 100-year history.

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