Discussing theatre in Ireland. Has it lost a sense of purpose? Should it reflect Irish society?

Theatre Critic Martin Esslin identifies that one of the biggest problems with the theatre is that

It is a terribly bourgeois institution.

For Lynda Henderson of Theatre Ireland, Irish theatre is dying at the heart but livening up at the periphery. She believes Belfast, Galway and Cork are showing signs of development and reinvigoration but Dublin has lost its way. A large institution like the Abbey Theatre is suffering from an identity crisis in terms of exactly who it relates to as an institution.

Fintan O’Toole of the Sunday Tribune is critical of the work and motivations of the main Dublin theatres. He believes that their work no longer reflects the original motivation for their establishment.

The Abbey Theatre was established as part of an overall sense of Irish nationhood which Fintan O’Toole believes is no longer directly relevant. The Gate was established as a radical alternative to conventional theatre showing the most radical work of that era. This is no longer the case and in the last year, it has been presenting rather a safe theatre.

The Project, which came from the fringe artists of the 1960s who wanted a space to work collectively. Again Fintan O’Toole believes that this is no longer the case and it lacks direction and purpose. While commending the work of Joe Dowling at The Abbey there are questions as to what exactly the role is for a national theatre and what should it reflect.

This episode of 'Exhibit A’ was broadcast on 28 February 1985.