The Plough and the Stars was first performed at the Abbey Theatre in 1926, less than ten years after the Easter Rising of 1916. On the night of the fourth performance, the Abbey Company was met by an unruly audience who protested against what they believed was a grotesque distortion of historical events slandering those who had died for Ireland. The riot featured a coordinated appearance by the widows and bereaved women of 1916.
During the disruption W.B. Yeats rose to praise the new play and addressed the audience saying, “You have disgraced yourselves again. Is this to be an ever recurring celebration of the arrival of Irish genius?”
This inspirational play has been presented 56 times by the Abbey Theatre, most recently in 2012.
Image Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland, Holloway Collection