THE brand new state of the art Lime Tree theatre, situated in Mary Immaculate College, launched its first season programme, which includes a first appearance in Limerick for the Abbey Theatre in more than 30 years.
Launching the extensive programme - which includes Tom Barry’s Guerilla Days and Hollywood actress Mischa Barton in Steel Magnolias - new theatre manager Louise Donlon said it was “opening a great new chapter in arts in Limerick”.
“The venue is amazing,” said Ms Donlon, formerly of Druid Theatre Company and once of Island Theatre Company, “and it will be an amazing addition to the cultural infrastructure of Limerick.”
“We see it also as a community resource for the people of Limerick city and county and we hope that they utilise it. It will have a significant impact on the cultural, social and economic life of the city,” she added.
Ms Donlon was joined by box office manager Gillian Fenton, chairman of the board Brendan Lane and board members Mike Finneran and Deirdre Kenelly in launching the programme and taking the media on a tour of the new venue.
The Longford native, who left her position as director of Dunamaise Arts Centre in Laois for the new role in the Lime Tree, drew particular attention to the dimensions of the stage - 12m in depth, 20m wide - and the presence of the ‘proscenium arch’ on the stage, which essentially shields the wings of the stage.
Its presence is crucial to touring companies who would be required to construct an arch themselves and is something other venues in Limerick do not have.
“The city is now capable of taking theatre and performances of the scale that were not possible in the past,” she explained.
“Having that arch here in situ makes an enormous difference to the arts in the city, which will now be able to host events by companies of the calibre of the Abbey and Druid and we are thrilled that the Abbey will be here to officially open the venue in October,” she added.
She explained that local schools and stage schools were welcome in the theatre and pointed to the Cecilians and Limerick Panto Society electing to stage their annual productions in the Lime Tree as an example of its potential as a community resource.
The season begins in mid-September with Guerilla Days and will officially open on October 30 with the Abbey’s touring production of The Plough and The Stars by Sean O’Casey.
See www.limetreetheatre.ie for more.