Tom Murphy’s 8th play at the Abbey Theatre, The Sanctuary Lamp was controversial in 1975 when the notion of waifs and strays convening in a church was at odds with the principles of 1970s Catholic Ireland. Three lost souls, Harry, Francisco and Maudie, take refuge in a city church at night where they rage against God. Harry is tasked with keeping the sanctuary lamp alight for the spirit of Christ. The play went on to be performed again three times, in 1976, 1985 and 2001 proving the enduring resonance of Tom Murphy’s work.
The Abbey Theatre posters chart a journey through Irish theatre and vary in style over the decades. This is a poster from the second production. The use of three colours is very effective and as is the case still today, the type-face and play title is strong and distinctive.
The Abbey Theatre has a long association with Tom Murphy. His first play Famine premiered on the Peacock stage in 1968. A six play season celebrating Tom Murphy was presented at the Abbey Theatre in 2001.