Well established now in its studio premises in North Great Georges’ Street, the 1970s saw another surge in activity by the DSS and over 25 major productions are recorded.
There was also a noticeable widening of the repertoire of the Society, with productions of plays by Beckett, Pinter, Stoppard, Arrabal, Strindberg, and even Neil Simon. That is in addition to the staple works of The Bard, with a total of 13 full productions of Shakespeare plays presented.
The 1974 production of Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead featured Gabriel Byrne and Myles Dungan as the eponymous leads. Gabriel continued to star for the Society in a number of productions before setting out on the distinguished professional career that he continues to enjoy, at an international level.
Myles Dungan remained an active member of the Society well into the 1980s. He played the lead (Leontes) in the 75th anniversary production of The Winter’s Tale (see below) and contributed an invaluable service to the Society with the publication of his No Great Shakes? 1907- 1982 [link to Myles Dungan’s website]. The work is indispensable reading for anyone interested in the first 75 years of the Society’s history.
Another feature of the 1970s was the large input from female directors working with the Society. The late Eilis Mullen made her directorial debut in 1970 and would go on to direct a further 17 productions (at least) up to the late 1980s. She was also a distinguished President of the Society and subsequently made her mark at national level in the world of youth theatre. Her love of Joyce’s work was the impetus for a number of adaptations of that great writer’s work staged by the Society, such as ‘Dear Dirty Dublin’ – which was first presented in Sept. 1977 and is still in the Society’s repertoire.
Other women directors from this time were Celia Harte (now a distinguished bilingual poet writing under the name Celia de Freine), Phyl Herbert and Anne O’Reilly.
The late William Byrne also made his directorial debut with the Society in 1976 and would be a distinguished actor, director and President of the Society, before moving on to the professional theatre in the early 1990s. Willie played most of the great Shakespeare leads including Lear, Macbeth and Othello and gave many other memorable performances in leading roles. His Juno and the Paycock (O’Casey) in 1983 was one of his most celebrated achievements as a director and was revived in 1984.