Recalling a production of Peer Gynt the first play for the newly founded Gate Theatre in Dublin.
Madame Desiree 'Toto' Bannard-Cogley recalls the creation of the Gate Theatre and the lead-up to its inaugural production of 'Peer Gynt' at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin.
The boys as we still called them, they were then looking for somewhere to start their theatre.
It was believed Toto could help in this matter, as she was a like-minded individual trying to do something similar with her cabaret held at a premises on South William Street.
We talked and talked or rather Hilton talked, Micheál punctuated and I glowed with enthusiasm, before the night was out I knew that my dreams and hopes were realised.
They decided to use the Peacock Theatre for their first production and as the Studio Cabaret had a membership of 400, they managed to raise 350 guineas in two week period.
The Peacock was secured and soon we were casting our first production ‘Peer Gynt’.
Toto was appointed business director, a role not best suited to her skills, however, assisted by her son Mitchel, she did her best to cope until Ida Hughes took charge. Backstage Dom Bowe executed Micheál Liammóir's set designs and Hilton Edwards advised on the intricacies of lighting effects.
And so, on 14 October 1928,
In a theatre with a capacity of only 102 and on a stage whose absurdly small measurements were no more than 16 feet wide by eight feet high, the Dublin Gate Theatre Studio gave its first performance, Henrik Ibsen’s five act immense ‘Peer Gynt’ with Hilton in the title role and with miraculous settings by Micheál, who didn’t play in the show because most of his time was still taken up with the Taibhdhearc in Galway.
‘Hilton and Micheál’ was first broadcast on 23 February 1958. It was produced and narrated by HL Morrow.