Druid Theatre Company was established in 1975 as a direct response to a lack of professional theatre companies outside of Dublin. Founding members include Garry Hynes, Marie Mullen, Mick Lally and others. Druid Theatre Company was formed from relationships built in University College Galway Drama Society. This college group counted Garry Hynes, born in Ballaghadereen, Co. Roscommon, and Marie Mullen, from Drumfin, Co. Sligo, among its members and this group gained much notoriety during the years 1971 – 1975.
The group participated in the prestigious All-Ireland Amateur Drama competition in Athlone in Co. Westmeath, presenting Paul Foster’s play Elizabeth One in 1975. While not claiming first prize, cast members and director Garry Hynes did receive much praise and the wheels were set in motion for a continuing life in theatre for all involved.
As the time approached for the group of actors of University College Galway Drama Society to complete their studies, the decision was taken in the summer of 1975 not to let this group disband. A full time professional group would be the desired goal and a production of J.M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World, with Mullen and Mick Lally in the leading roles. Also in this summer season of theatre would be Brian Friel’s The Loves of Cass Maguire and Kevin Laffan’s It’s a Two Foot Six Inch Above the Ground World. Playboy opened at the Jesuit Hall, Galway. An official name was needed so that this group could apply for funding. “Clan Lurgain” (the ancient name for Galway Bay was Lough Lurgain) was suggested by “Druid” was decided upon after a crossword clue in a newspaper referred to the character of ‘Druid’ from the cartoon strip, Asterix. Druid Theatre Company was now up and running.
Within two months, Druid had decided to introduce Lunchtime Theatre to Galway. Druid produced at different venues over its first months and years. These venues include the Jesuit Hall in Salthill, Galway and also at the Fo’Castle Street theatre on Denmark Street in Galway city centre. An increased grant from the Arts Council in 1976 would follow and also Paul O’Neill joined the ranks of Druid. It was agreed a new and bigger premises would be needed to accommodate Druid. A site was earmarked in Pump Lane in Galway city and a contract signed for the premises but unforeseen circumstances saw this plan fail to come to fruition. Instead, an empty warehouse on Chapel Lane in Galway city centre was up for negotiation with its owners McDonagh Milling and eventually a lease was agreed for use by Druid Theatre Company. The official opening of the new home for Druid was officiated by Minister for Defence, Robert Molloy. A production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera was the opening play for the new Druid theatre, on 19 May 1979.
International success would soon follow for Druid in 1980 and 1981 when Druid received recognition and high praise for their touring productions. In 1981 Druid toured Island Protected by a Bridge of Glass and won the coveted Scotsman Fringe First Award. Also on this tour were productions of The Pursuit of Pleasure and Bar and Ger. Over the coming years Druid produced works from renowned Irish and international playwrights such as Sam Shepherd, Dion Boucicault and Samuel Beckett. J.M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World would tour Ireland and tour to Edinburgh in 1982, one of the first of what would become regular and eagerly anticipated tours by Druid.
By 1984 Druid Theatre Company had made several important appointments. Frank Conway, formally head of design at Abbey Theatre, Dublin became Associate Designer; John Ashton from Scotland became production manager; Padraic O’Neill already of Druid, took up the post of Stage Manager, Maureen Hughes became Administrative Assistant and Moya McHugh became Assistant Stage Manager.
The following years of 1985 onwards saw Druid tour and present The Playboy at the Donmar Warehouse in London, (February 1985) and also saw the new Tom Murphy play Conversations on a Homecoming which Druid toured nationwide around Ireland in the latter half of 1985 and also toured to Sydney, Australia in January 1987 as part of the Sydney Festival. Druid were now truly international.
Through the early 1990’s Druid established a very successful relationship with some of Ireland’s greatest playwrights. Tom Murphy, Frank McGuinness, Geraldine Aron and Brian Friel saw their works produced and received with great success and positivity from an ever increasing audience. One of Druid’s biggest plays of this time was At the Black Pig’s Dyke written by Vincent Woods. It opened in September 1992 and toured nationally within Ireland. The play would tour to London as part of the LIFT Festival in Jul 1993 and also to Australia as part of the Sydney Festival in January 1995. Druid established their relationship with playwright Martin McDonagh with a production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane in October 1996 and also produced new works by Marina Carr. The DruidSynge season in 2004 is a highlight of the work and legacy of Druid Theatre Company and also features in the production and press series of the Druid archive.
Druid Theatre Company continues to produce and tour nationally and internationally.
Archival History ↴
The collection was held by Druid Theatre Company, Galway. The collection was acquired directly from Druid Theatre Company, Galway.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Druid Theatre company ↴
The archive of Druid Theatre Company includes a detailed record of productions produced since the establishment of Druid in 1975. The collection also includes records such as playbills and images of works produced by the University College Galway Drama Society which counted Garry Hynes and Marie Mullen among its members. The series of press files also includes a scrap book of press cuttings documenting the productions of University College Galway Drama Society, awards won by Garry Hynes and others and also documents the establishment of Druid Theatre Company, the first professional English speaking theatre company outside of Dublin. There is a near complete record of all productions by Druid Theatre Company from 1975 to 2008. The early development and establishment of Druid Theatre Company is documented as are members including Maeliosa Stafford, Mick Lally, Mairead Noone, Ray McBride, Marie Mullen, Garry Hynes and others. Documents from this early period include a printed pamphlet entitled “Druid – the Reparatory Theatre Company of Galway: The Need”, (Feb 1976) which outlines the mission and prescribed goals of the fledgling theatre company. The document details previous attempts to establish theatre companies in Galway and how Druid plan to connect with the community. The production files include a high volume of excellent quality photographs from rehearsals and full productions by Druid Theatre Company. These images are printed on good quality photographic paper and are in majority of size 203mm X 254mm. The photographs are taken by Amelia Stein and others such as Angus McMahon and Ivan Kyncl. The Druid Theatre Company collection also boasts a large volume of posters and other promotional ephemeral material. This outsize material relates to full productions by Druid and document how promotion of theatre has evolved over the life-time of the company. Other records include feasibility studies for redevelopment of the Druid theatre in Galway city centre, a selection of scripts submitted to Druid for consideration and also records regarding the establishment of the Druid Theatre Archive with University College Galway, (National University of Ireland, Galway) The series of press files contain records of press cuttings of interviews with and features on members of Druid Theatre Company, reviews of productions by Druid and commentary and news on Arts, theatre and culture in general nationwide around Ireland. These press files are taken from regional, local and national Irish newspapers and magazines, international newspapers and magazines as well as print-outs from Irish and international websites.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
The Druid Theatre Company Archive is arranged into various series of records. Original order and arrangement of the records as they were received was respected as much as possible. The main series of records refer to productions and press files. The series of files relating to productions by Druid Theatre Company contain records of productions including playbills, posters, photographs, invitations, flyers, tour booklets and other related documents. This series is further broken down into sub-series. Each year is represented by a sub-series and records of each production within a single year are listed chronologically and described to item level. The series of records for Press Files are arranged in a similar manner. Each year is represented by a sub-series. Within these sub-series, press files are arranged in monthly files and described and listed to item level. Following these primary series, the remaining records are arranged into relevant series, and include season programmes, scripts, University College Galway Drama Society, Druid Theatre Building, Druid Theatre Company – History, Druid Theatre Company – “The First Ten Years”, Handover of Druid Theatre Company Archive, “Druid in Review”, Other Photographs, Non-Druid Productions and Magazines and Playbills. All material is arranged chronologically within these individual series.
Conditions of Access & Use
This collection is available to all bone fide researchers, and subject to the conditions of access governing consultation of archival material at the James Hardiman Library. For a full statement of these conditions see: http://www.library.nuigalway.ie/collections/archives/conditionsofaccess/ Any application for access must be made through the archivist. All reproductions are subject to conditions of access. The Druid Theatre Archive is in very good condition with no immediate conservation issues arising. For further information contact Barry Houlihan: barry.houlihan[at]nuigalway.ie
Conditions Governing Reproduction
All reproduction requests must be made to the Archivist.
33 boxes + 150 posters
Descriptive list http://archives.library.nuigalway.ie/cgi-bin/FramedList.cgi?T2
Archive Web Link →
See Galway Arts Festival Archive, James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway. T5. http://archives.library.nuigalway.ie/cgi-bin/FramedList.cgi?T5
Descriptive Control Area
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.