As the Dublin Theatre Festival celebrates its 60th anniversary, Artistic Director Willie White has said it is "pretty amazing" for a cultural organisation or festival to reach such a milestone.

The 60th Dublin Theatre Festival kicks off on Thursday, September 28 and runs until October 15.

White, the festival's Artistic Director and Chief Executive, said that while they are proud of their past, they are already looking to the future.

"I think it is pretty amazing for a cultural organisation, for a festival to reach 60. We've an amazing past behind us but what we're really thinking about is the next 60 years," he told RTÉ Entertainment.

"We have over 30 productions, in the city centre and also all around the suburbs. We have work from Ireland, of course, and also international projects from Belgium, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, Norway and the United States, and the work is aimed at everybody from 2 years upwards."

"We've already started planning next year's festival, we started planning it earlier in the year, and we're even planning 2019," he added.


Opening the festival is a production of The Suppliant Woman, which is based on the Ancient Greek play by Aeschylus, with a new version penned by David Greig.

The play tells the story of fifty women leaving everything behind to board a boat in North Africa and flee across the Mediterranean, hoping to escape forced marriage in their homeland and seek asylum in Greece.

On choosing The Suppliant Woman to open the festival this year, White said he wanted to "engage people, but also show people that theatre is still a very good medium to discuss what is going on in the world."

"When I heard about this show, it opened in Edinburgh last October, I thought it would be a really great way to open the festival; first of all because you're involving a local chorus, a volunteer chorus with professional actors who come over towards the end of the process, but also because of the topic.

"It's a play, it's entertaining, it's moving, it's inspiring, but it also talks about something that's going on in the world now, and in fact was going on in the world two and a half thousand years ago, when the play was written by Aeschylus in Ancient Greece," he said.

With a number of professional actors making up the cast, many of the local chorus actors have never performed on public theatre before.

Aisling Doherty-Madrigal is one who will be making her theatre debut in the Gaiety on Thursday night and she was drawn to attend the open-call audition due to the play's subject matter.

"Someone told me about it and I thought it looked interesting because the play is so relevant to today, so I went in to the auditions and there were so many girls there. They got us to do a bit of dancing and improve and stuff and it was a really nice atmosphere there and everybody was in such a good mood. Then a few days later I got the call back and it was amazing, I was so excited," she said.

Professional actress Gemma May Rees heaped praise on the standard of talent in the Dublin chorus saying, "They're incredibly confident, so solid in Dublin, so solid, just slotted right in."

For more information on the Dublin Theatre Festival click here.