‘An Unlikely Institution’, Rough Magic Theatre Company – a Living Archive

The Library’s latest exhibition showcases highlights from the Rough Magic Theatre Company archive which was donated to the Library in 2017. Over the next few weeks we will be featuring a series of blog posts focusing on the archive and start with an introduction by Lynne Parker, Artistic Director of Rough Magic;

Photograph by Alan Byrne

The collective that was formed as Rough Magic in Players’ Theatre in 1984 was a creative ensemble of seven. Over three decades the people have changed but the personality of the company has stayed constant – an eclectic collusion, with unity of purpose, generosity of spirit and an inclusive sense of ambition. 

This exhibition charts the evolution of the company in the context of that original vision; celebrating the people and the productions that formed it, and presenting an overview of a unique piece of Irish theatre history. As an independent, and highly individual company, Rough Magic is an assertion of the maverick spirit in Irish theatre.

Photograph by Alan Byrne

Within these cases, iconic plays, such as Declan Hughes’ Digging For Fire and Arthur Riordan’s Improbable Frequency, are represented by artefacts; publicity material, a stage manager’s prompt copy, the mechanics of production. Each of the objects in the exhibition relates to a milestone in the company’s thirty-five year trajectory, and some of the many shows – over a hundred, more than sixty of which have been Irish or world premieres.

Also cause for celebration is the enduring connection with Trinity, Rough Magic’s birthplace and now guardian of its materials and legacy, in a living archive that will continue to expand, consolidate and enrich our joint history.

Rough Magic exhibition in the Long Room. Back Row L-R: Margaret McAuliffe, Peter Hanley, Helene Montague, Conor O’Riordan, Arthur Riordan, Frank Blake, Stanley Townsend. Front Row L-R: Owen Roe, Gillian Buckle, Venetia Bowe,
Gina Moxley, Anne Byrne, Lynne Parker. Picture by Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX

 

We are currently enjoying a wonderful residency in the Long Room Hub as Artists in Residence to develop a new piece around choral singing across Ireland;  and along with our productions for next year we will be launching a new Methuen anthology of Rough Magic plays, edited by Patrick Lonergan, which in due course will become a part of our archive collection.

By holding, housing and offering access to our Archive, the Library provides a secure repository for Rough Magic’s past that can inform and underpin the implementation of its future.

Lynne Parker

Artistic Director, Rough Magic Theatre Company