First Female Artistic Director at the Abbey Theatre

To celebrate their 110th anniversary, the Abbey Theatre have launched an interactive website marking 110 moments in their history, both on and off-stage. Alongside this project, RTÉ Archives is taking its own look back at Ireland's national theatre.

Lelia Doolan was the first woman to become artistic director of the Abbey. She had previously worked in RTÉ as a producer, director and head of light entertainment. Doolan took up her Abbey position in December 1971 and announced her artistic policy the following year, at a press conference in the Peacock Theatre on 30 August 1972. 

In this RTÉ News report from the night, Doolan explains the "creative fusion" she hopes to create between actor, audience and author. Her three-year plan envisages a first year of classics and revivals, with a new field of endeavour in the second year. She also hopes to bring the national theatre to the people of Ireland. Theatre manager John Slemon outlines the challenges of taking the theatre on the road to reporter Paddy Smith.

Lelia Doolan

Lelia Doolan in 1963. The photographer was Roy Bedell

  • CONTACT
  • TERMS OF USE
  • PRIVACY
  • DISCLAIMER
  • COPYRIGHT