herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Two new heads for Abbey - but for the price of one?

Newly appointed directors of the Abbey Theatre from L ot R: Graham McLaren and Neil Murray.
Newly appointed directors of the Abbey Theatre from L ot R: Graham McLaren and Neil Murray.

It seems two heads are better than one at the Abbey.

The National Theatre has appointed not one, but two men to succeed Fiach MacConghail as director.

Neil Murray and Graham McLaren from the National Theatre of Scotland will begin working at the theatre on July 1, 2016.

The joint directors will be in receipt of two separate salaries but The Abbey refused to disclose if they would be paying both Murray and McLaren the same salary as MacConghail - or whether we would be getting two for the price of one. The position of Director of the National Theatre is one of the most prestigious roles in Ireland's arts scene.

There were over 30 applications for the post, of which eight were international.

Murray has worked at the National Theatre of Scotland since its inception in 2005, while McLaren has spent over 20 years working in Canadian and Scottish theatres.

Many consider the appointment a "bold" move from the Abbey's board of directors, and the newcomers will be under a great deal of critical scrutiny from the start.

"Both Neil and Graham come from a dynamic and reputable background," the director of the Dublin Theatre Festival Willie White said.

"This is a very bold move for the Abbey, and an extremely exciting time.

"Murray has established a renowned national theatre in Scotland despite not having an actual building to house it. I think they will both bring a huge amount to the role."

The board of the Abbey Theatre launched a search for a new director in April 2015.

Speaking to the Herald last night, McLaren said it was a "dream come true".

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