University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Bernard McKenna
Collection Related to
Irish Theater and Writers

1983 - 1995


Manuscript Collection Number: 433
Accessioned: Gift of Bernard McKenna, June 2000
Extent: .3 linear ft.
Content: Playbills, letters
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: December 2001, by Kevin Burke

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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

The Bernard McKenna collection related to Irish theater and writers comprises playbills and other material from four Irish theater companies, and letters (1994-1995) from Robert Hogan, Irish literary scholar and professor emeritus of English literature at the University of Delaware. McKenna, an associate editor of the Dictionary of Irish Lirterature, assembled the collection of playbills in the course of his own study of Irish theater. Hogan’s letters to McKenna, written in his capacity as editor-in-chief of the Dictionary, regard McKenna’s contributions to the Dictionary.

In 1994-1995, Bernard McKenna conducted research on Irish theater productions “since October 1968.” October 5, 1968 was the date of a violent protest march by Catholics in Derry, Northern Ireland. It is generally considered to mark the start of “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland. The collection includes playbills and other material McKenna received from five Irish theater companies: Charabanc Theatre Company of Belfast, The Lyric Theatre of Belfast, Field Day Theatre Company of Derry, The National Theatre Society Limited (Abbey and Peacock Theatres) of Dublin, and The Passion Machine of Dublin.

Charabanc Theatre Company was founded in 1983 by five Belfast actresses. Its focus is on new Irish plays. Included in the collection are a selection of programs from Charabanc productions between 1984 and 1992, correspondence between McKenna and Charabanc, and a list of Charabanc productions (1983 – 1993).

The Lyric Theatre, also in Belfast, specializes in repertory productions. Included in the collection are programs from the twenty-fifth anniversary season (1993 – 1994), correspondence, a list of productions (1983 – 1995), and commemorative postcards from the twenty-fifth anniversary season.

Field Day Theatre Company in Derry produces plays by Irish and other contemporary playwrights. The collection contains programs from a number of productions (1983 – 1995), including the 1990 world premiere of Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy; correspondence; a list of company activities; and a review of the company’s production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya from the Dublin Sunday Independent (March 1995).

The National Theatre Society Limited manages the Abbey and Peacock Theatres in Dublin, Ireland. The collection contains a list of Abbey Theatre productions between December 1993 and December 1994.

The Passion Machine was formed in Dublin in 1984 and produces original Irish plays. The collection contains the program from the 1994 production of Paul Mercier’s Home. Included in the program are pictures and information on plays produced between 1984 and 1994.

Robert Hogan was a University of Delaware English professor, a writer, and editor of the Dictionary of Irish Literature. His correspondence with Bernard McKenna during 1994 – 1995 largely concerned McKenna’s contributions to the “revised and expanded” 1996 edition of the Dictionary, most of which were biographical entries for Irish authors.


Dictionary of Irish Literature. Robert Hogan, editor. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. 1996.

CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the Internet, University of Ulster).

Other information derived from the collection.

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

F1   Charabanc Theatre Company
     Belfast, Northern Ireland; founded in 1983.
     Includes correspondence, programs, brochures and publicity,
     and touring history (1983 –1993).

F2   The Lyric Theatre
     Belfast, Northern Ireland; founded 1968.
     Includes correspondence, programs, production history, and

F3   Field Day Theatre Company
     Derry, Northern Ireland; founded 1980.
     Includes correspondence, programs, production history, and a
     review of the company’s production of Uncle Vanya.

F4   The National Theatre Society Limited, Abbey Theatre and the
     Peacock Theatre
     Dublin, Ireland.
     Includes list of productions at the Abbey Theatre between
     December 1993 and December 1994.

F5   The Passion Machine
     Dublin, Ireland; founded 1984.
     Includes a program with information on the company’s
     production history.

F6   Robert Hogan letters to Bernard McKenna, 1994 – 1995.
     Typed and autograph letters, signed (25 items).

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