If the stage of the Abbey Theatre is seen as the heart of the National theatre, then its Literary Department is very much the pulse. Tucked away on the upper floors of the Abbey Street theatre, the Literary Department is very much a haven for new writers, for new stories and for new voices. Aideen Howard, Literary Director, talks to Barry Houlihan and Writing.ie about the work of the Literary Department, about supporting new plays and new playwrights and about finding that new voice in Irish theatre. In an average year, some three hundred unsolicited scripts find their way to the Literary Department of the Abbey, each hoping to be lifted from obscurity and to see their work produced. If anyone thinks that a play is submitted, read and then magically appears on the stage in the following season, they are sorely wrong. Aideen Howard explains the mammoth task of sifting through these plays, reading, assessing and responding to each and every one and working with those few chosen for further development. She is quick to point out her work as Literary Director is a long-term investment in the Abbey’s and Irish theatre’s future. The fruits of this work may not be fully seen for a number of years to come….
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