Players Society of Trinity College Dublin Archives

Repository: Trinity College Dublin

Identity Statement

TitlePlayers Society of Trinity College Dublin Archives
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1939-1996
Extent Medium21 archives boxes


Creator(s): Players Society of Trinity College Dublin

  • Administrative History ↴

    Dublin University Players emerged within Trinity College Dublin in 1932. Two dramatic societies which existed in Trinity College at the end of the 1920's were the Dublin University Dramatic Society (exclusively male) and the Dublin University Elizabethan Dramatic Society (exclusively female). On October 27th 1932 an open meeting was called to introduce Dublin University Players, which was under the Patronage of the Provost, and had no connection with either the late Dublin University Dramatic Society or the Elizabethan Society. Both males and females were equally eligible for membership, and only plays 'possessing definite dramatic merit' would be produced. Initially the DU Players had a small theatre space at the top of House 6. The first public performance was given by the society in February 1933 in the Abbey Theatre. In the early years the D.U. Players suffered restrictions from lack of funding and cramped quarters. Some of the more notable early talents in the D.U. Players included Ginette Waddell, R.B.D. French and Barry Roach. French succeeded in maintaining the society from his active participation in the late 1930's right through to retirement as president in 1974. Performances by the Players often reflected the issues of the day, such as, the attachment of Trinity College to the United Kingdom during the Emergency, and the position of the College as predominantly Protestant at a time when the Roman Catholic Church was given a special position in Ireland by the 1937 Constitution. 1952 saw the arrival of a new Provost, Dr. Mc Connell who was a great supporter of Players and was no time in allocating the group a theatre in House 4, Trinity College. In the 1950's the society provided members with an opportunity to build a career for themselves in the television, theatrical and film world. In the 1960's Players came under attack for being too exclusive. As the students population expanded in Trinity College during the 1960's, the membership of the society grew and this impacted on the quality of performances. The 1970's saw the birth of a new Irish generation in Players, with talents such as Michael Colgan who had a very clear purpose for the group, with the aims of projecting a professional image, maintaining a high standard of production and putting on the sorts of shows that could not be seen outside of the College, and also providing a springboard for those who wanted to enter professional theatre. Although there was much violence and unrest in Northern Ireland during the early 70's, the Players tended not to touch on politics. Due to the results of a Fire Survey Report, the Players were moved from House 4 to the Centre for Drama Studies in Pearse Street, despite much opposition. The Players feared that they would lose audiences if they were no longer located in Front Square, and they also feared a loss of autonomy if they were to share a building with the Drama Faculty. The role of student drama was questioned in the 80's as Charles Hunter highlighted at the time that training courses at Gaiety or Abbey provided a more direct route into a theatre career. Another blow came in 1991 when Paddy Wordworth decided to stop reviewing student drama in the National Press. The lack of reviews however, influenced the policy of Players, allowing for more original and risk-taking productions. 1992 saw a further move to the Black Box Theatre and '92 was also the year that the Samuel Beckett Centre was established.
  • Archival History ↴

    This collection combines material collected by RBD French (deposited in the Library with his own Society papers by JD Pheifer in 1993) and also the archives of the Society itself. Deposited in Trinity Library by JD Pheifer and by DU Players in 1993, 1994 and 1996.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Permanent Loan

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Players Society of Trinity College Dublin ↴

    The archives of D.U. Players contain various items and documents pertaining to: correspondence; programmes; scripts; business papers; historical material; photographs; posters; minutes; reports; membership; costume design; publicity; advertising; theatre hire; performance rights; financial details; and festivals.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    The collection is arranged as follows:
    1. RBD French Correspondence
    2. RBD French Programmes
    3. RBD French Miscellaneous
    4. RBD French Scripts
    5. Joseph D. Pheifer Correspondence
    6. General Correspondence
    7. Business papers
    8. Historical material
    9. Programmes
    10. Photographs
    11. Posters
    12. Scripts (and production notes)
    13. Minutes, Reports, Membership, Costume
    14. Publicity
    15. Advertising
    16-17. Theatre Hire
    18. Performance Rights
    19-22. Finance
    23. Festivals
    24. Miscellaneous

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Please contact in advance of your visit
Conditions Governing ReproductionPlease contact for guidance
Creation Dates1939-1996
Extent Medium21 archives boxes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A full descriptive list with index can be consulted online. Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteAdapted by N Milne
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000. National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names. Chippenham: National Council on Archives, 1997.
Date of Descriptions42005