Dublin’s Focus Theatre closes

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Dublin’s Focus Theatre has gone dark on the eve of its 50th anniversary in May 2013.

The 200-seat, city-centre “actors-based” venue – which has staged nearly 400 productions since opening in 1963 despite receiving no support from the Irish Arts Council – closed on April 29 with a performance of Aidan Harney’s Hollywood Valhalla, and a reception attended by Irish president Michael D. Higgins, who said “the Irish people owe a deep debt of gratitude” to the venue.

Artistic director Joe Devlin said the closure was inevitable given the lack of government funding and the venue’s scale.

“Due to the small size of the building, the theatre cannot generate sufficient income from productions to make it self-sustaining. We can’t pay bills; we can’t pay overheads; we can’t pay the rent. We can’t afford to run a building in the current climate. It’s a sad moment for many people. It’s the last of the pocket theatres in Dublin.”

But Devlin, who celebrates his tenth anniversary as artistic director this year, has said the company will continue to produce new work and classic texts on a peripatetic basis. Plans for co-productions with Dublin’s Project Theatre and the New Theatre, as well as revivals of plays by Brian Friel and Tom McIntyre, are to go ahead, with performances in a number of other venues.